Christmas Tree 2009: Tacita Dean
Tate Britain: Exhibition
11 December 23 December 2009

Each year Tate Britain asks an artist to create a Christmas tree for the gallery.

This year, Tacita Dean has decorated a Nordmann fir with specially-made beeswax candles. Each afternoon at 16:00, as the sun sets and light fades from the gallery, the candles will be lit. They are designed to burn out as the gallery closes at 18:00.

This work chimes with traditional ideas of what a Christmas tree should look like. The candle-light evokes a sense of magic and wonder, and the act of lighting the tree is at once simple and theatrical, echoing the rituals of Christmas celebrations.

Dean says ‘I was struck when I arrived in Berlin by the simplicity of Christmas there. I felt the Germans had managed to hold onto something of its purity and magic despite commercial pressures. As many of my films encompass twilight and the transition from day to night, it seems appropriate to light the candles at this moment of each day.’

A leading artist of her generation, Dean currently lives in Berlin. Best known for her 16 mm films, her subtle explorations of time and place conjure up a sense of history, memory and longing.