Recent Acquisition: Tacita Dean

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Tacita Dean

Using the increasingly anachronistic medium of film, Tacita Dean (b. 1965, Canterbury, England) cultivates a visual discourse of obsolete technologies and the fictional remains of cultural memory. For Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS (in three movements) to John Cage's composition 4'33" with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films) (2007), Dean constructs a whispered meditation on impermanence and nostalgia, casting the celebrated choreographer as performer of his 50-year partner and collaborator John Cage’s avant-garde composition, 4'33" (first performed 1952). Projected life-size on six screens, the six 16mm films record a nearly motionless Cunningham. Timed by a stopwatch, the choreographer assumes silent poses marking each of the score’s three intentionally silent movements. The completion of Cage’s work hinges on the sounds of the environment as the work’s duration becomes a stage for chance. In Dean’s conception of the piece, the absence of sound and Cunningham’s stillness magnify the subtle flourishes of the choreographer’s twitching eyelid and the ambient noises of the studio. Caught in a moment of hypnotic stasis, the films intimate an elegiac portrait of an aging artist and his deceased partner, articulating the melancholia of passing time.

Lauren Hinkson, Assistant Curator for Collections


Purchased with funds contributed by International Director’s Council and Executive Committee and Sustaining Members

Tacita Dean, Merce Cunningham performs STILLNESS (in three movements) to John Cage’s composition 4'33" with Trevor Carlson, New York City, 28 April 2007 (six performances; six films), 2007. Six 16mm color films with optical sound, approximately 5 min. each, edition 2/4. Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York 2008. Installation view at Dia:Beacon, Beacon, NY. Courtesy the artist, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York and Paris, and Frith Street Gallery, London. Photo: Ken Goebel