Area, 2020, comprises numerous rectangular MDF panels scattered across the gallery walls and builds on an installation of the same title staged at Grazer Kunstverein in 2018. The dimensions and colours of the panels are taken directly from items of furniture found in the common area of a social housing complex in Graz, brought there by the residents for communal use. Animating the dynamic between the specific and the generic, the work considers, according to Tallentire, ‘how the performance of such collective placement, especially around everyday objects, can be determined by economic, practical, aesthetic and cultural factors.’
This series of collages from 2020 employ floor plans of buildings that hold personal resonance for Tallentire, among them the social housing development in Graz and her own home. The plans are partially obscured by blank rectangles of card paper, shapes that correspond on a one-to-one scale to paragraphs from books that Tallentire selected from her shelf while working from home during lockdown.
Although the titles of the collages derive from the first words of the chosen paragraphs, they are otherwise emptied of textual content, retaining only the physical structure. Juxtaposing diagrammatic representations of building spaces with the physical shapes embedded in the act of reading, this series plays with the perception of two very different kinds of spatial systems that suffuse ordinary life. Through such a manoeuvre, the series illuminate the ubiquitous—and often seemingly natural—physical norms of the everyday that are in fact dictated and constrained by cultural and social determinants.
From, in and with, 2015, is a series of twenty-four photographs commissioned for an exhibition curated by Val Connor for The Women’s Council of Ireland. The work developed from the descriptions (provided by six women architects in Dublin) of buildings photographed by Tallentire on a walk through the city.
The objects (at hand) depicted in the photographs were selected and arranged in relation to prompts the texts provided, which in turn were used as a template for drawings that became plans for new buildings. The photographs, and titular namesakes of the buildings’ architects, precipitate semiotic interplays between text and image—suggesting that the production of our lived world is contingent upon dialogue.
In Practices of Everyday Life, Michel de Certeau held a magnifier to the tactical and resistant aspects of ordinary daily practices. He dedicated an entire chapter to walking, in which he opposed the walker to the voyeur. Walkers are the ‘ordinary practitioners of the city’, he wrote, whose ‘bodies follow the thicks and thins of an urban “text” they write without being able to read it’; the voyeur’s urban space is geometrical and panoptic, while the walker’s is ‘anthropological, poetic, and mythic.’1
While walking through London, Tallentire began taking photographs of things piled up on the pavement. Some of these photographs, cropped and paired, later formed the basis of the Photositings series. These images from everyday urban encounters are part of a tactical peripatetic practice that finds and makes meaning through mobility, transience and chance. They operate, in de Certeau’s words, ‘down below’.
Much of Tallentire’s work is borne of mundane things encountered on the street. Photositings is filled with prosaic and rough-hewn objects, which have been moved out onto the street and placed or thrown down, stacked, balanced, piled, leaned, draped, weighed down, or grouped and bounded. It is a series of ordinary life’s overlooked material manoeuvres.
When asked why he made assemblages from ‘junk’, Alan Kaprow replied, ‘It was very liberating to think of oneself as part of an endlessly transforming real world.’2
Tallentire’s images freeze but also inhabit the perpetual flux of material configurations. They mark brief moments of acknowledgement within a continual flow.
Photographic images rarely operate singularly in Tallentire’s work. Here, each structure is doubled, articulated through two possible views. When exhibited, they come in multiples; pairs are stitched together, one followed by another, side by side, unfolding as a rhythmic progression. Each presentation makes possible a novel constellation, while new encounters on the street continue to expand the collection of pairs. The work is composed as an unbounded inventory, configured to be reconfigured.
— Amy Luo
1. Michel de Certeau, The Practice of Everyday Life, trans. Steven Rendall (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 93.
2. Susan Hapgood, Neo-Dada: Redefining Art, 1958–1960 (New York: American Federation of the Arts, 1994), 116.
In Tallentire’s assemblage GF3-3, 2018 she juxtaposes two elements, a photograph taken during the building of a youth centre in Calais in January 2016 and materials corresponding to those used in its construction.
The apparently informal arrangement of the installation in which sheets of OSB (orientated strand board) are leant against the wall or lie on the floor evokes the precarious condition of the situation (in this instance the plight of refugees and migrants in the Calais Migrant camp).The title of the work is taken from a mark, handwritten on the board in the production factory, indicating that three panels are designated for a ground floor storey. The photograph of similar OSB boards lies in the assemblage making an interesting association within the canon of Conceptual art with Victor Burgin’s work from 1967, Photopath.1 Like this, it produces a tension between image and object, material and depiction, as it extends the spatial, temporal and political dialogue that underpins Tallentire’s work. Accompanying GF3-3 in the exhibition is Shelter Notes, 2016 a publication that Tallentire produced as part of her project Shelter, 2016, in which the construction of the Nissen hut, the archetypal form of basic shelter for the displaced since WW1, was explored in the context of a new humanitarian crisis.2 Shelter is devised to be shown, ideally, in outside and internal spaces, the materials used for a contemporary equivalent of a Nissen hut’s fabrication are assembled, disassembled, re-assembled and the process filmed. Shelter Notes is a record of the thinking behind the process of the work.
1. Victor Burgin, Photopath, 1967, was installed in the exhibition When Attitudes Become Form, Institute of Contemporary Arts, London, 1969.
2. A 14-18 NOW / Nerve Centre Derry commission
Walk, 2016, has emerged through a set of relationships and observations, starting with 5th Avenue in New York. Thin strips of MDF were seen taped to pavement seams—the sort of low-fi solution observed as part of the maintenance of the city. The performed diagram here goes through another act of translation—the floor plan revealing the smallest sized bedrooms legislated as part of the 1985 UK housing act.
Lag 1, 2016, is a stack of grid insulation board, angled and positioned to create a volume. Referring to Lag 1 not only in sculptural terms, but as an act of drawing, Tallentire is interested in the hyper-modernity of the material and its delineation as part of our time. Oscillating between a sense of usefulness and uselessness—the object proposes itself as a work of art, stripped of function and refusing its potential to be moulded into shape, becoming instead its own image.
Probing the politics and spatial logic of architecture, Setting Out 2, 2020 employs neon builders line, nylon string that is designed to mark long straight lines and used in construction to transfer architectural drawings onto the ground. Transporting what is conventionally on a horizontal plane to the vertical plane of the wall, the strings form a line drawing whose composition is determined by the floor plan of Tallentire’s home. Paper markers on the string demarcate lengths that correspond to the circumference of different rooms in the home, such as the kitchen and bedrooms, indexing the spatial logic of the house.
Conceived as a compendium of video works varying between 24 seconds and 6.16 minutes, each segment of Drift is titled in relation to the time of day or night when filmed. When installed, Drift is constructed as a unique modification of the whole, created according to the scope and context of each space.
The installation arranged for Hollybush Gardens in 2012 takes inspiration from the collaboration with architect Dominic Stevens in Drift: diagram xii at The Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2010 (as part of This and other things)—where moving through a scaffolding structure formed the viewing experience. In the new configuration, scaffolding is constructed to reference the temporary in relation to architecture and location. Drift: diagram xiii engages the skills and knowledge of the workers depicted in the video material whilst simultaneously exploring a process of construction and the constructed. Two new video sequences have been shot specifically for this presentation to further reference both the location and the build of the installation.
Since 2002, Tallentire has filmed workers within the financial district of the City of London, such as cleaners, painters and construction workers. The footage has been decelerated to draw attention to the minutiae of different labour activities transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. The beginnings of Drift came as Tallentire began to recalibrate her relationship to live performance—looking at the actions of others instead of her own. In Drift, she considers the potential of gesture as an embodiment of agency, specifically in relation to the figure of the worker in public space. Tallentire examines the physicality of labour at the centre of England’s fiscal capital, where the products of human toil register simultaneously as visible and invisible, additionally abstracted into numerical expressions of ownership represented by the machinations of the financial sector. The agency of those portrayed is thrown into relief by the modernity of what geographers would call a time-space locale within the city. A site is constructed that reveals bodily comportment and gait, highlighting how we might occupy space differently depending on our subject position. Also embedded are references to seminal works such as Bruce Nauman’s Walking in an Exaggerated Manner Around the Perimeter of a Square (1967-1968) that explored space in general by the occupation and delineation of space through performance.
In Zero 58, 2007, a handheld camera records an abandoned vehicle with red fabric woven through its wrecked structure. The image appears both ambiguous and telling, signifying a cityscape wrought with struggle. Filmed in London, the image incorporates ambivalence as well as testifying to a chance encounter between site, artist and object—resonating with Tallentire’s itinerant methodology and her immersion in the materiality of things.
Anne Tallentire: Material Distance
John Hansard Gallery, Southampton
8 October 2022 – 14 January 2023
EXHIBITIONS at Hollybush Gardens
An Insular Rococo
Julie Becker, K.R.M. Mooney, Jack O'Brien, Charlotte Prodger, Anne Tallentire
8 July – 24 September 2022
Every Object is a Thing but not every thing is an object
Eva Fabrégas, Jaimini Patel, Ruth Proctor, Reto Pulfer, Alex Reynolds, Anne Tallentire, Aaron Tan
13 April – 19 May 2018
Present: work-seth/tallentire, Manifesto 3 (... instead of partial object), 2004 - 2017
8 – 10 March 2017
Sarah Jones [feat. Sanja Todorović], David Panos, Ruth Proctor and work-seth/tallentire
28 July – 1 August 2015
A Tall Order! Rochdale Art Gallery in the 1980s
Review by Eddie Chambers, Art Monthly, No. 464, March 2023
Review by Declan Long, Artforum, Vol. 60 No. 5, January 2022
Anne Tallentire: But this material…, The MAC, Belfast
Review by Francis Halsall, Paper Visual Art, No. 13, December 2021
Review: Anne Tallentire at Hollybush Gardens, London
Review by Tom Denman, Art Monthly, No. 443, February 2021
Interview by Rachel Spence, Financial Times, 13 June 2020
Hmn: The Space of Hesitation
Anne Tallentire and Chris Fite-Wassilak interviewed by Beth Bramich, Afterall, 20 November 2019
Anne Tallentire’s Life in Art
Interview by Isobel Harbison, Frieze, 21 November 2018
Review: Anne Tallentire’s ‘Shelter’
Review by Marianne O’Kane Boal, Perspective Vol. 25, September – October 2016
Trailer Time: Cinematic Expectations and Contemporary Art
Essay by Maeve Connolly, in Exhibiting the Moving Image, edited by François Bovier and Adeena Mey (JRP Ringier, Zürich, 2015)
Walking and Thinking
Essay by Charles Esche, in This and Other Things, 1999 – 2010 (exhibition catalogue; Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, 2010)
Essay by Caoimhín Mac Giolla Léith, in Drift – Anne Tallentire (exhibition catalogue; Void Gallery, Derry, 2005)
Dancing on a Tightrope (For Anne Tallentire)
Essay by Jean Fisher, in Anne Tallentire (Project Press Dublin, 1999)
The Art of Trailing: work-seth/tallentire’s Dublin
Essay by Gavin Butt and Jon Cairns, Third Text, Vol. 13 No. 48, Autumn 1999
Essay by John Seth, in Anne Tallentire (Project Press Dublin, 1999)
Anne Tallentire (b. 1949, County Armagh, Northern Ireland) lives and works in London, UK. Her practice encompasses moving image, sculpture, installation, performance, and photography. Through visual and textual interrogation of everyday materials and structures, Tallentire’s work seeks to reveal systems that shape the built environment and the economics of labour. Her recent work has examined geographical dislocation and demarcation in relation to infrastructure. From 1993, Tallentire has also made work as part of the artist duo work-seth/tallentire with artist John Seth. She is also the co-organiser, with Chris Fite-Wassilak, of the peripatetic event series ‘hmn’.
Recent solo exhibitions include Material Distance, John Hansard Gallery, Southampton (2022); But this material…, The MAC, Belfast, Ireland (2021); As happens, Hollybush Gardens, London (2020); Plan (…), Grazer Kunstverein, Graz, Austria (2019); Shelter, Nerve Centre and Eighty81, both Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Ulster Museum, Belfast, Northern Ireland, and FabLab Limerick, Ireland (all 2016); This and Other Things, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2010); and Irish Pavilion, 48th Venice Biennale (1999), among others. Group exhibitions include Found Cities, Lost Objects: Women in the City, curated by Lubaina Himid, Southampton City Art Gallery (2023); An Insular Rococo, Hollybush Gardens, London (2022); IMMA 30 Setting Out, Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, Ireland (2021); REFUGE, Green on Red Gallery, Dublin, Ireland (2021); Extrospection, Pi Artworks, London (2020); Truth: 24 Frames Per Second, Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas, USA (2017); Keywords: Art, Culture and Society in 1980’s Britain, Tate Liverpool, UK (2014); Publish and be Damned, ICA, London (2013); and Anthology – for Lucy Reynolds, Film in Space, Camden Art Centre, London (2012), among others.
Her work is held in significant public collections, including Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; Government Art Collection, UK; British Council Collection; and Arts Council Ireland Collection. In 2018 Tallentire was the recipient of a Paul Hamlyn Award for Artists; in 2022, Tallentire was the recipient of a Henry Moore Foundation Artist Award. She is Professor Emerita at Central Saint Martins, where she taught from the early 1990s to 2014.