Friday, January 12, 2007


Essay by TJ Demos @ TATE, ETC.

Tacita Dean’s moving film Presentation Sisters (2005), which portrays the quiet daily rituals of elderly nuns living in the South Presentation Convent in Cork, Ireland, unfolds gradually, tracing a gentle slowness. Their routine comprises communal meals, domestic labour, recreation and devotional prayer, each of which Dean spent months observing. One shot shows a nun ironing sheets, pressing out wrinkles with a determined focus and concentrated thoroughness unknown in the frenetic modern world outside. Used to our culture of light-speed pace and miniscule attention spans, multi-tasked distraction and attention-deficit disorders, one discovers an oasis of clarity in the darkened environment where Dean’s film plays. Capturing the unhurried cyclical time of Catholic spirituality, the piece emphasises the sense of prolonged duration through its anamorphic widescreen format, which widens the 16mm colour film’s image. Time stretches out.


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