Tacita Dean

Tacita Dean

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia

December 20, 2023
Tacita Dean
Sydney International Art Series 2023/24
December 8, 2023–March 3, 2024
Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Circular Quay West
140 George Street
Sydney NSW 2000
Hours: Saturday–Monday and Wednesday–Thursday 10am–5pm

T +61 2 9245 2400

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA Australia) presents the largest survey of work by acclaimed artist Tacita Dean.

Based between Berlin and Los Amgeles, Tacita Dean (b. 1965, Canterbury, UK) is renowned for her compelling works in mediums including film, photography, sound, installation, drawing, printmaking and collage. Engaging with themes of landscape, history, mortality, entropy and the passage of time, Dean’s art reflects her sensitivity to and wonder at natural phenomena, her sustained exploration of processes of making, and the lived empathy for a world in flux.

Curated by MCA Australia Director Suzanne Cotter, Senior Curator Exhibitions Jane Devery, and Curator Megan Robson, the exhibition Tacita Dean brings together works created by the artist in the past decade and is composed of inter-related bodies of work made around the world, from Berlin to Los Angeles, Japan and Australia.

This exhibition includes new and recent 16mm and 35mm film works, monumental chalkboard drawings, photographic and print series, and works that have resulted from the artist’s set design for the highly acclaimed The Dante Project, a collaboration with choreographer Wayne McGregor and composer Thomas Adès for The Royal Ballet.  

Exhibited together for the first time are Dean’s monumental chalk on blackboard drawings, The Wreck of Hope (2022) and Chalk Fall (2018). Dean’s use of chalk—an unfixed medium—mirrors the fragility of the landscapes she portrays, which are increasingly threatened by our climate emergency. Depicting a glacier melting, The Wreck of Hope, takes its title from a famous painting of the same name by the German Romantic landscape painter Caspar David Friedrich (b. 1774–d. 1840). The majestic cliff subsiding in Chalk Fall was motivated by Dean’s desire to use chalk to depict chalk collapse in relation to medium extinction and her ongoing struggle to keep photochemical film viable. For the artist, it also resonates with the iconic chalk White Cliffs of Dover and the impact of Brexit.

Direct from its presentation at the Bourse de Commerce Pinault Collection in Paris, MCA Australia presents Dean’s most biographical work to date, Geography Biography (2023). The 35mm diptych reflects the artist’s relationship to the world through her ‘cutting room floor’, incorporating outtakes from her 16mm films and her early super and standard 8mm films, to form what she calls an ‘accidental self-portrait’.

Premiering for the first time is Dean’s latest film, Claes Oldenburg draws Blueberry Pie (2023), depicting the late American Pop artist Claes Oldenburg (b. 1929–d. 2022) drawing in his Manhattan studio. Originally filmed in 2010, at the same time Dean filmed her earlier portrait of Oldenburg, Manhattan Mouse Museum (2011), Dean revisited the unused footage after an invitation to write on the artist for October art journal following his death. This in turn led Dean to use other film outtakes in Geography Biography (2023).

Artist book available 
Tacita Dean: Geography Biography is an artist book published on the occasion of Tacita Dean at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia. Dean has described Geography Biography (2023), the 35mm film diptych included in the exhibition, as ‘an accidental self-portrait’. This accompanying publication, made by the artist and designer Martyn Ridgewell, is a compelling record of her life and art practice. Told in the artist’s voice and ‘through the traces that fill my life’ it presents Dean’s journey from art school to becoming one of the most important living artists of our time.

Also on show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia
Tarek Atoui: Waters’ Witness,
until February 4, 2024, an immersive sonic landscape of hidden sounds of port cities by the celebrated Lebanese artist and composer. MCA Collection: Artists in Focus highlighting work by Australian artists: Joan Brassil, Kevin Gilbert, Simryn Gill, Jumaadi, Tracey Moffatt, Sancintya Mohini Simpson, John Nixon, Leyla Stevens, Alick Tipoti and over 60 bark paintings from the Arnott’s Biscuits Collection showcases the work of Aboriginal artists from the communities of Groote Eylandt, Yirrkala, Galiwin’ku, Milingimbi, Maningrida, Ramingining, Gunbalanya, Wadeye and the Tiwi Islands. Primavera 2023: Young Australian Artistsuntil February 4, 2024, featuring the next generation of Australian contemporary artists, aged 35 years and under.

Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA Australia)
The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA Australia) presents, collects and engages with the art of our time. Guided by the principles of belonging, connection and influence, we aim to be the defining platform for contemporary art and ideas in Australia and beyond. Located on Sydney Harbour at Tallawoladah, a home to stories, art and culture for over 65,000 years, we connect the widest possible public to contemporary art through exhibitions, events, creative learning and access programs. Our evolving Collection of over 4,500 artworks is the only public collection in Australia dedicated to the work of living artists, with over a third represented by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists. As an independent, not-for-profit organisation, MCA Australia raises over 80% of its revenue each year through donations and commercial activities to deliver its artistic and engagement programs. www.mca.com.au

The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia acknowledges the Gadigal people of the Eora Nation, the traditional owners of the land and waters upon which the MCA stands.

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December 20, 2023

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