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.
BBC Trust agrees to axe channel from TV in favour of digital moveTV
Final Top Gear reviewTV
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Autistic teenager beaten up by bullies makes them watch 20-minute video about autism
- 2 Nick Kyrgios calls former Olympian Dawn Fraser a 'blatant racist' after she tells Wimbledon star to 'go back where their parents came from'
- 3 World learns of app that shows you who unfriended you on Facebook, app promptly crashes
- 4 Chris Moyles reportedly set to make radio comeback with new breakfast show on XFM
- 5 The Greece debt crisis explained in less than 100 words
Game of Thrones season 6: Daenerys actress Emilia Clarke says '50/50 chance' Jon Snow is alive
Chronixx interview: Reggae sensation on taking the opening spot at Glastonbury and calling Barack Obama a 'waste man'
Game of Thrones season 6: Director Jack Bender says showrunners 'communicate closely' with George RR Martin
Top Gear: Jeremy Clarkson 'can't front ITV motoring show' due to BBC contract clause
Amy Winehouse film: Mark Ronson praises 'respectful' movie as it scores highest ever UK opening for British documentary
More Britons believe that multiculturalism makes the country worse - not better, says poll
Osborne to cap family benefits at £23,000 – announced ahead of his post-election Budget
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture
Sickness and disability benefits could be reduced by £30 a week as part of £12bn welfare cuts