Featuring seventeen international artists from different generations, An Aside was an exhibition of work selected by artist Tacita Dean.
It comprised of an eclectic and surprising range of works connected by an internal narrative which builds on the idea of ‘objective chance’. The method of selection, vividly recorded in an essay that Dean had written for the accompanying exhibition catalogue, strongly related to the way she approaches making her own work.
An Aside was Dean’s first curatorial project. As in her own work, Dean approached the selection process as a journey, in which the end result was arrived at largely through chance encounters and unconscious associations. Her intuitive and personal selection juxtaposed old and new and offers an open-ended journey in which numerous routes are possible.
The exhibition’s point of departure is a seminal slide projection with sound by the German artist Lothar Baumgarten (Da gefällt’s mir besser als in Westfalen, El Dorado, 1968-76 / There I like it better than in Westphalia, El Dorado), of which Dean said: ‘It feels to me that when he began this work, he has no idea where it would take him.’
As the exhibition evolved, certain links and correspondences between artists and artworks – many of them unexpected – emerged. Landscape and still-life were recurring themes in the exhibition, from the Surrealist juxtaposition of objects in Paul Nash’s painting Event on the Downs (1934) and Eileen Agar’s fantastical photo-portraits of rock formations, to Sharon Lockhart’s film installation NÖ (2003). A number of heads and portrait busts also populated the show, among them a little-known self portrait in bronze of Joseph Beuys, in which he appeared to depict himself as a woman, shown alongside a bust of Beuys by his contemporary Walther Brüx. These were joined by Gerhard Richter’s tentative study for a portrait bust of the artist Isa Genzken (1990) and two examples of French Situationist Raymond Hains’ multi-layered, lacerated posters.
An Aside was the third in a series of exhibitions curated by well-known British artists, shown at Camden Art Centre. It is organised in collaboration with the Hayward Gallery and follows on from Richard Wentworth’s Thinking Aloud in 1999 and Susan Hiller’s Dream Machines in 2000. The exhibition toured to The Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh and Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea.
The exhibition was accompanied by a fully-illustrated artist’s book, with texts by Tacita Dean and Roger Malbert. Published by Hayward Gallery Publishing.