Derry – Anne Tallentire, Drift: Diagram VII – Void – October, November 2005.



Circa 115: Review














Anne Tallentire, Drift: Diagram VII , 2005 DVD stills courtesy Void

Anne Tallentire’ Drift: Diagram VII prompted a very particular, yet informal association of ideas – centred initially around consideration of the historic place and function of the Gastarbeiter , [1] that most invisible of workers in the capitals of the West. Drift: Diagram VII , in its representation of the intangible workers (office cleaners, street-sweepers, etc) in London’s financial district, makes legible the relation, the surreptitious chain of cause and effect, that exists between work and visibility in the world’s financial centres. The sequences in the piece’s seven projected DVDs each feature short instances of workers ‘making a living’: the sequences feature only basic actions: workers sitting, wiping a cloth, moving, sweeping. With the work’s absence of noteworthy events, or visual evidence of any importance, it is a continuation of Tallentire’s persistent imperative to lessness. Drift: Diagram VII features instances that are the least marked, the least evident: small anonymous actions, markedly devoid of any significance. The nondescript functions as the over-arching sign within Drift: Diagram VII , acting as an allpervasive aura uniting the seven projections of instances of ‘making a living’.


Strangely, we now live in a world where the Gastarbeiter is officially deemed not to exist. In the official words of German national policy, outlined on the websites of its embassies, “the term (‘ Gastarbeiter ’) is now considered outdated. Many foreign workers remain in Germany for years, even generations; they are no longer ‘guests’ but long-term residents.” [2] One could imagine that this new official depiction of cultural and economic realities would be indicative of an improved presence for the place of the migrant worker in Western capitals such as Berlin, Paris, or London. But one need only to move one’s thoughts away from the 1970s situation of the young Moroccan Gastarbeiter Ali in Fassbinder’s Fear eats the soul , to the contemporary works of documentarist Sorious Samura, [3] to learn that the function and position of migrant workers is as highly wrought as ever. The real-world effacement of these intangible workers (office cleaners, streetsweepers, etc) in London’s financial district is aimed at occluding the highly politicised revelations (of issues of history, colonialism, and identity that have been implicit in previous work by Tallentire) that consideration of their personal histories would raise. The installation of Drift: Diagram VII at Void, with three relatively low projected sequences butted at corners of one gallery space, and three projected sequences partially occluded by gallery pillars in the other gallery space, prompted considerations of relations within urban space, of issues of visibility and recognition. London’s financial district is a spectacular site, in Debord’s sense of the term: a site where capital has become a spectacle of architecture and authority, where finance enacts absolute control over production and perception: choosing and designating elements within it as visible or invisible. Drift: Diagram VII is, amongst many other things, a resonant examination of that process.


1 The German term for foreign workers


2 From: www.germanyinfo. org/relaunch/ info/facts/facts/questions_en /economicsystem/working8. html What are “Gastarbeiter”? “Gastarbeiter” are guest workers or foreign workers. The term is now considered outdated. Many foreign workers remain in Germany for years, even generations; they are no longer “guests” but long-term residents. Foreign workers, mostly from Mediterranean countries, were actively recruited by the Federal Republic during the 1960s and 70s in response to labor shortages. At the end of 1994, about 2.1 million foreigners were employed in western Germany. Turks, citizens of the republics of former Yugoslavia, Greeks and Italians make up the largest individual groups in the foreign work force. There are far fewer foreign workers in eastern Germany, about 12,000 in 1992. Most foreign workers in the east are Vietnamese.


3 See works such as Exodus, 2000.



Declan Sheehan is Director of Context Galleries, Derry.


Derry - Anne Tallentire, Drift: Diagram VII - Void -



Reprinted from Circa 1xx, Season 20xx, pp. xx - xx