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Tacita Dean | Telomere 1-4

Telomere 1, 2023, photogravure and screen print

Tacita Dean describes Telomere 1–4 as a ‘found mark project’, where she traced, copied, and accumulated the scratches over the four prints.

The images of the four pieces that make up Tacita Dean’s Telomere 1–4 have their origin in the impressions created by the wear and tear on a square enamelled metal plate used as a ramp by the artist’s gallery in Paris. Dean describes Telomere 1­–4 as a ‘found mark project’, where she traced, copied, and accumulated the scratches over the four prints. She found the word ‘telomere’, which are the sections at the end of a chromosome, when she searched “attrition through accumulation” on the internet. As cells divide in the ageing process, the telomeres get shorter. 

Working with BORCH Editions, the artist has been adding to the prints for over a year, seeing in the marks the potential for other narratives. Using collaged paper cut-outs, screen-printed motifs and colour directly applied onto the plate, Telomere 1–4 have continued to collect history in a way not dissimilar to the enamelled sheet that was their origin. 

Each of the four Telomere prints consists of three layers: the first layer is printed in black from a photogravure plate combining a very high-resolution photographic image of the marks and scratches on the metal ramp, combined with Tacita Dean’s hand-made tracings and drawings. The second layer consists only of hand-made marks transferred to a photogravure plate (direct gravure), printed in a range of colours. In the final layer, a selection of hand-made marks was screen-printed onto the surface of the prints with glossy ink.

Tacitas Dean made Telomere 1-4 for her 2023 exhibition Geography Biography at the Pinault Collection at Bourse de Commerce in Paris.

Installation image of Telomere 1-4, 2023, Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia. Photo: Zan Wimberley
Tacita Dean reviewing test prints
Telomere 2, test print, detail

Learn more about Tacita Dean