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Tacita Dean’s Film Follows Ai Weiwei Flower Seeds at Tate

"FILM" by Tacita Dean is viewed by an onlooker at the Tate Modern in London. The work is part of the Unilever Series running through March 11, 2012. Photographer: Lucy Dawkins/Frith Street Gallery via Bloomberg

London’s Tate Modern today presented a new work in its lobby: a looping 11-minute silent movie by the British artist Tacita Dean.

Part of a series sponsored by Unilever, the vertical “FILM” is a tribute to the dying medium of pre-digital cinema. It comes with a catalog containing a bookmark-sized strip of celluloid.

“I love film,” the Berlin-based Dean told reporters in Tate Modern’s auditorium. “I don’t want to lose my ability to make film, and it looks like I probably will.”

She said that her work was “not only a campaign” but “also an artwork.” Today, she said, there are only three or four print labs left. “They are all closing, and they are all closing extremely fast.”

Dean’s installation comes after China’s Ai Weiwei, who paved the Turbine Hall with 100 million porcelain sunflower seeds. The commissions are part of a series that Unilever is sponsoring for five years ending in 2012 to the tune of 2.16 million pounds ($3.43 million).

Her Turbine Hall artwork, a cinematic collage, was shot by tilting a Cinemascope lens 90 degrees to capture vertical views. It is projected on a vertical 13-meter (42 feet) screen. The backdrop within the film itself is the hall’s grid-like rear wall, layered with images of a mountain peak (representing the Paramount logo), a waterfall, a down escalator, mushrooms and a single egg.

Turner Nomination

Dean -- born in 1965 in Canterbury -- was shortlisted in 1998 for the Turner Prize, the U.K.’s top contemporary-art award. Three years later, she got her own show at Tate Britain.

Her body of work frequently incorporates the sea, and links contemporary episodes with past tales and myths. The 1996 “Disappearance at Sea” was inspired by the life of the U.K. sailor Donald Crowhurst, who set off in 1968 on a solo voyage around the world and never came back.

Of the 11 artists preceding Dean in the Turbine Hall, Olafur Eliasson is among the most popular. His “The Weather Project” (2003-4) was a glowing representation of the sun.

Other participants in the Unilever series include Doris Salcedo, who, through April 2008, showed “Shibboleth,” a 167-meter crack in the concrete floor of the hall; and Carsten Hoeller, who installed slides between October 2006 and April 2007 that visitors could zip down.

The two other British artists who have shown work in the Turbine Hall so far are Rachel Whiteread (2005-6) and Anish Kapoor (2002-3).

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