British artist Tacita Dean is widely recognized for her work in a quickly disappearing medium: 16mm film. Her first wide-scale exposure came in 1995 when she was presented as a Young British Artist at the 46th Venice Biennale. She then rose to prominence alongside luminaries such as Damien Hirst and Tracey Emin, and was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1998. She has not faded into the background since. Instead, her emphasis on transience, celluloid, and light has enabled her to carve out a niche for herself apart from her British contemporaries.
The New Museum’s Tacita Dean: Five Americans, the artist’s largest New York production to date, demonstrates Dean’s interest in what could be described as "process.” Three films and two sets of images communicate the importance of creation and of capturing fleeting moments in time.
In a short film, Manhattan Mouse Museum, a scene of sculptor Claes Oldenburg sifting through various miscellanea is played on a constant loop. It is a concentrated, intense study of the act of searching and effectively captures a small movement that might easily be overlooked.
The Line of Fate, Dean’s visual record of the late art critic Leo Steinberg is also striking. Dean had captured a scene of Steinberg writing with desk, pen, and paper in five separate shots. All are monochrome, with the exception of the second from the top, which is in color. The five photographs of Steinberg writing are hung in a vertical, rather than horizontal, formation, which produces an eerie cascading effect, as if all the stills have morphed into one.
The works are on view at The New Museum through July 1.