Reframing disaster: word and image in Tacita Dean's The Russian Ending

2016-07-21T15:13:29Z (GMT) by Kathryn Brown
This article examines the relationship between word and image in a suite of photogravures produced by Tacita Dean in 2001 entitled The Russian Ending. It is argued that this intermedial encounter expands the signifying content of documentary photographs beyond that which is visible on their surface. This thesis is supported by an analysis of the different uses to which handwriting is put in the work. This includes the creation of fictions derived from the original photographs, the placement of images within different historical frameworks, the superimposition of cinematic directions, and the signaling of chance features that have impinged on each photographed scene. In her transformation of ‘found photographs’ of early twentieth-century disasters into a series of hand manipulated photogravures, Dean liberates photographic images from indexicality and broadens the nature and extent of information that they communicate about the world.