20/10/2018 — 06/01/2019 Kunsthaus Bregenz
The work of the renowned British European artist Tacita Dean has already been seen at Kunsthaus Bregenz in 2003/2004 as part of the group exhibition Remind… with Eija-Liisa Ahtila, Anri Sala, and Jane and Louise Wilson. She is regarded as one of today’s most outstanding artists. Her subject matter is often historical, touching on memory and empathy, the forces of nature and the traces left behind by humanity. Her works, from her early chalk on blackboard drawings to her four or more leaf clover collection, round stones, and found postcard interventions become ardent witnesses to a lost past, and the desire to capture, in imagery, the incomprehensible. Dean’s works in film also demonstrate her insistence on a medium’s materiality reinforcing her stance against a work’s arbitrary and careless exhibition. When the last laboratory printing 16mm film was suddenly closed in London in 2011, she began her campaign to preserve the medium of photochemical film by writing an article published in The Guardian newspaper.
Tacita Dean’s graphic work interrelates the medium of film, photography, drawing, and books. Her works on blackboards appear like excerpts from a film storyboard. Her photogravures of fictional landscapes display a richness of forms and diversity of line. Small-scale notation is embedded within large-scale imagery; they are miniscule and personal, her handwriting almost indecipherable. And yet it becomes clear that every scene, every vista, each image is permeated by a directing, scripting, and planning hand.
The extensive exhibition at Kunsthaus Bregenz will include three of her most significant film works – FILM, 2011 made for Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall, her six film installation Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS… (2008), as well as her most recent and most elaborate film project Antigone (2018). It premiered in the spring of 2018 in the new Burlington Garden spaces at the Royal Academy of Arts in London, the third in an unprecedented collaboration of simultaneous exhibitions across three venerable London institutions that also included The National Gallery and the National Portrait Gallery. Antigone is an hour-long dual synchronized 35 mm film projection. Based on the mythical figure Antigone, which is also the name of the artist’s sister, the film addresses time, transience and the mythological, as well as the materiality of film itself.
One of her most important works at Kunsthaus Bregenz will be the large-format chalkboard drawing The Montafon Letter (2017) which depicts a mountain landscape, drawn with white chalk on a blackboard surface. The story that gave the work its title is as sublime and impressive as the drawing itself: In the 17th century, an avalanche fell in the mountain valley of Montafon, south of Vorarlberg. Legend has it that a priest, while blessing the dead was himself then buried by a second avalanche only to be miraculously uncovered by a third. Dean has just completed a second, similarly monumental drawing called Chalk Fall, 2018, which depicts the collapse of a chalk cliff, deliberately matching her subject matter with the medium she has used to make it, while at the same time mirroring the fall of white on white in The Montafon Letter.