Tacita Dean is the third British Artist chosen to take part in the Unilever Series in Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall; she is one of the Young British Artists generation. Following in the footsteps of Anish Kapoor in 2002 – with his vast trumpet-like Marsyas – and then Rachel Whiteread in 2005, when she filled the space with 14,000 casts of cardboard boxes.
Nominated for the Turner Prize in 1998 but pipped at the post by Chris Ofili. Dean is best known for her film work and recently completed a film portrait of the late choreographer Merce Cunningham – Dean also uses found objects, drawing, sound and photography in her work.
Over the years she has created some fascinating and elegiac works responding to light, space and history, with a keen sense of the cinematic and the sublime. Dean’s best-known films have included Banewl, which charted the effect of a solar eclipse on a farm in Cornwall, and Disappearance at Sea. During the 1990s, the sea was a persistent theme in Dean’s work. Perhaps most famously, she explored the tragic maritime misadventures of Donald Crowhurst, an amateur English sailor whose ambition to enter a race to solo circumnavigate the globe ended in deception, existential crisis and, eventually, tragedy. Dean has made a number of films and blackboard drawings relating to the Crowhurst story, exploiting the metaphorical richness of such motifs as the ocean, lighthouses and shipwrecks.
Tacita Dean is best known for her work in 16mm film, her films often employ long takes and steady camera angles to create a contemplative atmosphere. Her anamorphic films are shot by cinematographers John Adderley and Jamie Cairney. She has also published several pieces of her own writing, which she refers to as ‘asides,’ which complement her visual work. Since the mid-1990s her films have not included commentary, but are instead accompanied by often understated optical sound tracks.
Her work and ideas are being kept under wraps for the 2011 commission for the Turbine Hall. Could it be that she will make a new film that enables visitors to linger longer as in previous commissions? For example in Doris Salcedo’s crack in the floor, visitors wandered alongside it; didn’t mid queuing to hurtle down Carsten Holler’s spiraling slides; or nervously walk into Miroslaw Balka’s intimidating dark chamber. Or maybe Dean will come up with something more like Olafur Eliasson’s 2003 The Weather Project when visitors came to Tate Modern and simply basked in the giant sun.