Tacita Dean

Canterbury England 1965, lives and works in Berlin

The Russian Ending
2001
photogravure
54 x 79,4 cm (20 parts), ed. 35
2001.TD.03.01

The Russian Ending, by the British artist Tacita Dean, is a series of twenty photogravure etchings. Depicted in each print is a disaster or a dramatic moment: from shipwrecks and battlefields to devastations and funerals. The sober hues of black, white and grey heighten the dramatics of each image. With this series Tacita Dean has made use of her collection of old postcards—cards dating from the World War I period which once served as a type of disaster tourism.

On these images, which the artist has developed into new photogravure etchings, she has written fragments of text in different languages. The words—zoom in, camera angle, final scene—suggest instructions for directing a film. These fragmented stories of the individual images consequently seem to become one long tale of disaster. As a whole the series brings to mind the notion of a 'storyboard' used in filmmaking. Each of the prints has its own title which designates the dramatic moment. The title of the entire series also relates to film. In contrast to the 'happy ending' of most films made for the American market, during the early decades of the twentieth century there were also versions made specially for Russia. These had a tragic end: The Russian Ending.