Tuesday, 22 November 2011

The Unilever Series:Tacita Dean review

Where: Tate Modern, Waterloo
Verdict: Go see it

What is it? The latest exhibit to take up the vast space that is the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern. Previous turbine hall exhibits have been large interactive installations but this is different as it's a giant 13 metre screen displaying an 11 minute video. The video is a series of short shots of nature and civilisation, often interspersed with coloured dots. Coloured and monochrome filters are also used freely. In each shot the video camera always remains still and so it almost seems like a cross between video and photo.

Verdict: Mesmeric sums it up in one word, but this wouldn't be a very good review if I didn't expand on it. It's got a tough act to follow, as the previous turbine hall exhibit was the porcelain sunflower seeds by Ai Weiwei. I was lucky enough to walk on the sunflower seeds before future visitors were only allowed to look but not touch – due to health concerns. It was a truly great feeling, almost like walking on crunchy snow (not the easiest thing to imagine).

I have to admit, I walked into this exhibit expecting to be disappointed. “A film, what's the point. You could just put that on the side of a building – a complete waste of space”. I didn't doubt the ability of film to convey art, but I just didn't think this was the best venue for it – how wrong I was. As there is no sound accompanying the video, the darkness of the turbine hall allows you to become fully absorbed into what you're seeing. I never would have imagined that I could almost be hypnotised by a close up of an escalator going past the screen. The use of coloured filters sometimes gives the images an otherworldly feel and only adds to the captivation. The film is brilliantly edited, moving from one beautiful scene to another, which all draw you in – and the environs only adds to the experience. A must see.

Dates: 11 October 2011 – 11 March 2012.

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