Tacita Dean, Tate Modern, Turbine Hall
A moving tribute to the beauty of a dying art
Cahal Milmo is the chief reporter of The Independent and has been with the paper since 2000. He was born in London and previously worked at the Press Association news agency. He has reported on assignment at home and abroad, including Rwanda, Sudan and Burkina Faso, the phone hacking scandal and the London Olympics. In his spare time he is a keen runner and cyclist, and keeps an allotment.
Tuesday 11 October 2011
For her installation in the Tate Modern's Turbine Hall, the 12th Unilever Commission, the artist Tacita Dean has revealed a film which is a paean to a dying, or at least endangered, medium: film itself.
There are now only a handful of film labs left in the world that can process analogue film, due to the onslaught of a far cheaper digital format. In recent years, Dean has become well-known for her intimate 16mm film portraits of artists in their old age: Merce Cunningham, Mario Merz, and, most recently, Cy Twombly, who died just after Dean's portrait of him was shown for the first time at Dulwich Picture Gallery.
Here is a portrait of film itself; not only does she reveal the holes at the side of the reels, this work is filmed in portrait format: a huge projection in CinemaScope format (think of those panoramic views from Westerns) turned on to its side.
Dean's film is a tremendously moving exhortation to the medium and to the space of the Turbine Hall – and has been made totally within the camera.
Through blocking out spaces of film and running them back through the camera, Dean can make snails and waterfalls appear in the windows of the old power station. She can bring back Olafur Eliasson's sun for a moment; she can make a small rock in her studio into a huge mountain, recalling the Paramount Pictures logo.
Tate's publication accompanying the show features contributions from everyone from Jean-Luc Godard to Neil Young, who write about the importance of analogue in the digital age. In Dean's film, one senses the last chance gasps of creativity, the glorious, hopeful, cinematic swan dive, as the artist experiments with film – running it through the camera 10 times, masking out sections, cutting and pasting like a moving collage – for what could be the last time.
She pushes and experiments with the constraints that have defined a glorious cinematic history – look what can still be done here. The space is lit by blocks of colour like cathedral windows. The Tate escalators ascend like film reels in a projector. A child's eye peers through a circular hole in the film into the dark. A public clock ticks past a minute. We're not done yet, there's so much more that we can still do together.
musicReview: Culture Club performs live for first time in 12 years
Children's bookseller wins The Independent's new author search
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
- 2 McKamey Manor: This 'extreme' haunted house is the stuff of nightmares
- 3 Russell Brand says he will 'probably' give up acting to focus on his revolution
- 4 Watch what happened when food critics were unknowingly served McDonald's
- 5 David Beckham's Haig Club whisky is exactly what’s wrong with the Highlands
This is what a film sex scene actually looks like on set (mostly awkward)
Revolutionary lost Caravaggio painting 'Mary Magdalen in Ecstasy' identified
After Sam Smith’s Mobo success, is the help of a pushy parent the surest route to stardom?
Pottermore: JK Rowling writes new Harry Potter story featuring 'greying' 33-year-old wizard
JK Rowling to publish new Harry Potter story online for Halloween
Of course, teenage girls need role models – but not like beauty vlogger Zoella
Cameron is warned 'no possibility' of UK reducing immigration and that bid to bring in quota on migrant workers would be illegal
Support for EU membership 'at highest level since 1991' with most Brits wanting to stay 'in'
Thousands with degenerative conditions classified as 'fit to work in future' – despite no possibility of improvement
Attacks on 'Ukip Calypso' show how skewed people’s priorities are
Poppy Appeal 2014: This is why I won't be wearing a red poppy this year