press release

One of Britain’s most exciting and successful artists, Tacita Dean, will present a two-part commission - a new film and a site-specific installation at South Presentation Convent, Cork from December 8 to December 31, 2005.

One of the major events of the Cork 2005 visual arts programme, Presentation Sisters is an hour long film shot at South Presentation Convent in Cork City during the summer of 2005. Curated by Sarah Glennie.

Invited by Cork 2005 to undertake a major new commission in response to the city of Cork, Tacita Dean chose to make two major new works in response to the South Presentation Convent. She spent a period of time with the sisters during the summer of 2005 and was struck in particular by the ‘communal rituals of eating and praying that highlight their day with a genuine camaraderie’. She was particularly drawn to the continued presence of these five woman in the original building built by the order’s foundress, Nano Nagle, a local to Cork. The film, PRESENTATION SISTERS, made in full collaboration with the sisters, is a gentle and evocative series of images that captures the daily life of these sisters and their convent – a life that is facing an inevitable end in the absence of a younger generation.

As Tacita Dean wrote about the work, ‘Vocation, it seems, is lost to the younger generation and those daily rituals, orientated around meal times, female domestic labour and devotional prayer are all the more precious because they are finite.’

For the second element of the commission, THE PRESENTATION WINDOWS, Tacita Dean has replaced the four windows in the chapel sacristy with white alabaster on which she has created a series of drawings relating to her experience of the convent and the sisters. The windows are made from a particular alabaster mined in North Italy, which historically was used in churches in place of stained glass. The alabaster is soft enough to allow drawings to be etched onto the surface and is translucent enough so that light filters through it to create a soft muted light.

Mary McCarthy, Cork 2005 Director of Programmes, speaking about the work said, “Tacita Dean’s incredible work is an extraordinary contribution to Cork 2005’s series of commissioned works. This work, Presentation Sisters, captures in a powerful way a moment in Cork’s life which is both particular and universal, the changing city landscape and the changing lives of its citizens. This work was a unique collaboration between the sisters and the artist, and it has resulted in a powerful and evocative new work. Cork 2005 is very grateful to both the artist, and the Presentation Sisters of the South Presentation Covent for making this happen.

Tacita Dean, one of Britain’s most successful artists, is best known for her compelling 16mm films, many in response to specific locations and situations. She uses a variety of media; photography, drawing, sound and film to explore her chosen subject matter, which has included abandoned architectural relics, fleeting natural phenomena and the stories and memories of extraordinary characters. While grounded in reality, her work is far from a conventional narrative and looks beyond the material to imagined histories and the shifting nature of time.

“Unlike other film artists, Dean is the genius of Nothing. Nothing needs a capital letter, because it is a Sartre Nothing, or a Beckett Nothing. The vividness of her images and the vibrancy of her soundscapes are a challenge to the desensitised, coarse world of normal experience, where bright lights, movement and noise cheat us into believing that something is happening. Tacita Dean’s slow nothingness is far more rich and strange”. Jeanette Winterson, The Guardian, September 2005

The public screening of this important new film work is accompanied by the installation of a site-specific work of alabaster windows in the sacristy of the South Presentation Convent, also on public exhibition during this time.


Cork 2005 presents
Tacita Dean
Ort: South Presentation Convent Sports Hall, Cork