Critics’ Picks

Section Cinema, 2002 (still from a color film).

New York

Tacita Dean

Marian Goodman Gallery | New York
24 West 57th Street
January 10–February 8

Tacita Dean’s work has always seemed haunted by the ghost of Marcel Broodthaers. Here she confronts the anxiety of influence directly, treating Broodthaers’s ouevre as a kind of found object to be examined with the same mixture of judiciousness and imaginative speculation that she has previously brought to other evidence and ephemera—and that Broodthaers himself brought to les aigles. Her thirteen-minute film Section Cinema, 2002, tours Broodthaers’s Düsseldorf studio, the original site of his famous fictional museum. Now lit by bare bulbs and piled high with antique chairs, the studio is a forlorn place; Broodthaers’s iconic stenciled FIG. 1s and FIG. 2s are still visible on the cinderblock walls. With its long static shots and grainy 16 mm stock, the film feels like the documentation of some grim fact-finding mission. It’s as if Dean is enfolding Broodthaers’s postmedium explorations into the mournful narrative of obsolescence that runs through her own body of work.

The show also includes Dean’s 16 mm color film Fernsehturm, 2001, a sort of day in the life of a revolving restaurant perched atop Berlin’s eponymous television tower. To a soundtrack of muffled Muzak, murmured conversation, and clinking china, tourists eat parfaits as they revolve, absurdly, past the artist’s camera, which lovingly registers the light as sunset fades slowly into night. Completed in 1969, the Fernsehturm is a Communist-moderne folly that now seems as apt a gravestone as any for the GDR; Dean’s stately, Kubrickian camerawork invites us to appreciate its gone-to-seed ambience as a series of painterly tableaux. At forty-four minutes, the film is both boring and beautiful, like Warhol’s Empire turned inside out.