Found Moment: Tacita Dean on Leonard Cohen
Serendipity. At the end of an indefatigable exhibition featuring our late songster, the moving image of a bird is projected quietly, high up on the short wall of a narrow room. Here we start and pause, taking a moment to contemplate its lyrical significance. What is it that makes an artist? We crane our necks to gaze up at the red-breasted songbird that is perched on a wire at the centre of the frame against a deep cyan sky, chirping merrily, captured in elegant three-quarter view. It turns once, maybe twice, poking its beak forward, ruffling its feathers. You try to grapple with meaning, focusing on the confines of the frame, noting the specks of dust on the film, the tangible grit of the medium itself. The lack of sharpness brings out the soft features of the tiny animal, whose bold chest and unrelenting song make it seem proud. Your patience falters as the bird keeps chirping, continuing to balance acrobatically on the wire. Just as you turn your gaze to fidget with your phone, the bird prepares for flight, bends over and dives out of the frame. In the blink of an eye, the found moment has prompted an interruption of emotion, leaving the frame abandoned and stirring longing within you.
Ear on a Worm (2017) by Tacita Dean, commissioned by the Musée d'art contemporain for Une Brèche en toute chose / A Crack In Everything, is on view in Montreal through April 9th, 2018.
Image Tacita Dean, Ear on a Worm, 2017 (still). Courtesy of the artist and Marian Goodman Gallery, New York