a/ tacita dean

I have been invited by JH to explore Tacita Dean. I have been reading the following two books: Obrist, H. U., (2012). Tacita Dean. Koln: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther Konig and Royoux, J-C et al., (2013). Tacita Dean. London: Phaidon Press.

Contemporary of mine and European at heart, as I am.

I have been fascinated by her idea of archiving postcards and cigarettes; hers is a chaos archive based on her disorganization, and even her archive is not organized. She needs an abundance of info in order to get through and keeps things interesting, as an amateur detective. She easily gets off a tangent, in different directions, making bizarre connections and that made me think about my idea of convergence, of making connections. I have been left wondering when I am archiving, what am I archiving, in reality? She does it on hope, luck, faith. And what about me? She relies on chance. And me?! She collects random stuff while instead, I am thinking about archiving of memories, happenings, sensations, facts in my life. How is archive connected with stories? I am, again, think about legacy and the importance of my life as “me seen by others” and hence it confirms to me that I have lived, I have been here. I have existed.

How does the research reflect in the final piece? in Tacita’s it doesn’t: the research is not seen. I would tend towards the opposite, where the research IS the final piece. And what about archiving SILENCE? Archiving seen as a means to “take care of”. Can I archive silence? My silence? Tacita collects 4-leaf clovers, round stones, postcards, found-photographs, albumen photographs of trees. I don’t. I don’t see the need. But then, if I think about my house: all my journals, papers, bits of scrap paper, mementoes…

In both cases, though, there’s an idea, an embryo but you don’t know if it’s going to become an exhibition, a book, a photo, a piece of journal. It stems from “somewhere” and it is allowed to come to consciousness, arise from the deep. Does it ever become anything? Maybe not, maybe I have a collection of 100 little projects at different stages and they might turn into something or into nothing. Or they coalesce or separate, I don’t know. I used to get very frustrated if i didn’t see the end of all the projects while now I am not really bothered. I collect the ideas and projects at the stage where they are and just wait.

She has been questioning the same thing as I did: I wonder if anyone knows exactly why they are doing what they do. If I know, am I too self-conscious? If I am too self-conscious, am I directing the exploration?

I have been also intrigued by some of her interests: Marguerite Yourcenar and Cy Twombly, who are two people I am following, too. I am thinking about Marguerite Yurcenar especially and her “Memoirs of Hadrian”: such an amazing book which I have read and reread; and reread again!

Cy Twombly said that it is his role as an artist to valorise poetry. Tacita brings the same concept to light and explores it when thinking about silence. I am wondering about my notebooks and scrapbooks with quotes from my favourite poets…

*** I know that all of the words above feel just like random thoughts dropped on some paper, but I am still mesmerised by some of the questions she poses, and how her life has gone in a similar intellectual direction compared to mine. Is it generational? Is it cultural? Does this idea validates my journey and my work or will make me think that “it has been done before and hence what’s the point of me making my own art?”

I have been left with questions. I have been left with a state of inquiry I find now constructive and not anxiety-inducing. Knowing that I don’t know, is now good.

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Udine, I

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