Artist biography

English draughtsman, photographer and filmmaker. Although trained as a painter, in her early work she showed a predilection for expressive formats more often found in the cinema. Her practice of drawing took on the form of storyboards, a narrative format used in the planning of movies. Her taste for storytelling triggered many of her works, often based on the possibilities raised by chance encounter. Dean gave equal weight to fictional and historical narratives, emphasising their power of evocation: notions of time, memory or nautical elements are part of her personal themes.

Dean's works play poetically on the theme of searching, as well as on the blurred identities of mysterious people or things. Dean's stories embraced the notion of struggle over elements, which explain the recurrence of the sea as a major protagonist in her work. Dean's minimal narratives are imbued with a sense of human failure and never-ending expectation resulting from actions that are curiously both heroic and modest. Some of Dean's later works are reminiscent of the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher in their focus on derelict places endowed with powerful history, as in Sound Mirrors (60 mm black-and-white film, 1999; London, Frith St. Gal.). The quaint and obsolete buildings are the remains of some prototype air-raid warning structures built in 1920; by accompanying the images with ambient sound recorded in 1999, she doubles the act of preservation of those buildings, already saved from destruction in 1988. She was shortlisted for the 1998 Turner Prize.

Mise en scène, (exh. cat., London, ICA, 1994)
V. Button: The Turner Prize (London, 1999)

10 December 2000

Article provided by Grove Art Online