Skip to main content
Lux OnlineHomeThemesArtistsWorkEducationEducationToursHelpSearch
Artists Artist's home pageArtists essay index page
CaoimhĂ­n Mac Giolla Léith.Click here to Print this Page
Anne Tallentire
Anne Tallentire's perception of the simultaneous importance and vulnerability of a sense of community in an era of rapid globalization is complemented by her enthusiasm for close artistic collaboration.

Formed in 1997 work-seth/tallentire officially registered a previously informal collaborative practice that had begun in early 1993 as a result of John Seth's and Tallentire's shared interest in exploring questions of history, colonialism, and identity within the particular context of contemporary fine art practice. Tallentire had previously made a collaborative work - Forbidden Heroine (1986) with fellow performance artist Alanna O'Kelly, and River (with Joanna Szarfarz) at The Utska Art Centre in Poland, 1994. However, it was with John Seth that she developed what she describes as 'joint actions'.

Seth and Tallentire developed between them, over a number of years, in works such as trailer (1998), Dispersal (2000), Manifesto (2001) and Spool (2002), an improvisational working process designed to explore what they describe as 'the relationship between live action and the mediated image' through the suggestive juxtaposing and interweaving of actions, objects and imagery.

The self-consciously gapped and fragmentary nature of Tallentire's practice, and the view of the world it offers incrementally to the patient and attentive viewer, highlights the extremely partial ,nature of experience and of vision in general. The forms of attention required of the ideal spectator by most of her films, performances and installations differ considerably from those we generally bring to bear on the more mundane aspects and details of everyday life. This is despite the fact that it is often precisely such generally unconsidered aspects and details that are singled out by her work as worthy of our attention.

Instances (1999), Tallentire's installation at the Nuova Icona Gallery in Venice as Ireland's representative at the 1999 Biennale, comprised a series of films in each of which she performed a particular action. These actions included the artist manipulating a small wooden table made by her grandfather, putting on and taking off a pair of old dress-gloves, or prising open a section of wooden flooring in order to examine what lies beneath. In one film she could be seen carefully laying out an array of burnt sections of wood, while in another she deposited heaps of broken glass on the floor and then spread it out with her black-booted feet.

The film projection Instances/dawn, was shot from a fixed position offering a view of a section of gritty London landscape dominated by a lone tower block. Filmed as dawn breaks over the city, it presents us with just over a half an hour of epic mundanity during which nothing much happens: a nearby fence swims slowly into focus; an apartment light blinks on half-way through; the sound of bird-song is heard, as well as the occasional thrum of early-morning traffic in the distance.

A certain fascination with that indeterminate, liminal time when night shades into day is also evident in Company (2004), a film in which the camera strains to focus on two indistinct figures at the sea's edge, somewhere along the Suffolk coast. Their movements, which oscillate between the inexplicable and the commonplace, are punctuated by the flaring of one figure's hand-held tilly-lamp and what may or may not be the flash of a cigarette-lighter. While the work's title is, tellingly, borrowed from Samuel Beckett, the scene depicted also dimly recalls W.B.Yeats's idealized icon of traditional labour in 'The Fisherman': 'a man who does not exist/A man who is but a dream'. Company both extends the investigation of seemingly purposeless labour of Instances and anticipates a more recent series of films featuring the figure of the inner-city worker.

Still from Instances by Anne Tallentire, 1999
Go to top of                             page