Dean was invited by Judith Palmer, director of the Poetry Society, London, to become artist-in-residence throughout the Society’s centenary year 2009. Dean’s art installation/performance OperationRome, drawing on her ongoing research into the spaces and discourses of power and occupation, was devised as an unadvertised, evolving ‘invasion’ by the visual arts of a cultural space dedicated to poetry, but also a public social and refreshment area. The invitation to exhibit became an opportunity to ‘occupy’ that space covertly through the deployment, withdrawal and redeployment of a wide range of found and made elements.
The installation and performance events drew on Dean’s other works inspired by Ancient Rome, such as the series Rome wasn’t built in a day (2007-2010). Rome served as a model of imperial power, a city fallen yet still in existence, as prevalent in poetry as in the visual arts, in a dystopian attempt at faux unification. This ‘occupation’ also developed Dean’s other themes of the juxtaposition of the epic and the everyday, and notions of temporality and farce.
The installation/ performance concluded with Final Onslaught, a three hour event at the Poetry Society to which individuals from the art world were invited. OperationRome staged a symbolic withdrawal by its invited appearance at a two day collaborative event by Rob Pruitt, Holiday Flea Market, at the Tate Modern, London, alongside the work of other participating artists such as Tracy Emin and Gavin Turk.
A research paper about OperationRome was delivered at The Eagle Document - The New Collection: A Performance/Events Symposium at the Stephen Lawrence Gallery, University of Greenwich in November 2009, some of which was later included in an online analysis of the project freely available at www.judithdean.co.uk Elements of the installation were also included in a group exhibition The Snowball Effect, at Mains d’Oeuvres, Sant-Ouen, France in 2010.