Simon Starling In Speculum

English artist Simon Starling is celebrated for his elaborate, erudite projects. His works explore the legacies of modernism and globalisation by addressing the peculiar histories surrounding specific objects and sites of art, design, and science. While they mine real histories, there is always something unexpected, excessive, witty, perverse, serendipitous, convoluted, or crafty about them.

Art Exhibition previously on at IMA - Institute of Modern Art in Queensland, Australia.
From Saturday 05 October 2013 to Saturday 30 November 2013

Starling in Speculum image

Published by Institute of Modern Art on Sunday 02 June 2013.
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Starling’s research-based work can be obscure but fascinating. It can be hard to get to the bottom of the work until you have untangled the complex backstories knotted up within it. Take his Project for a Masquerade (Hiroshima) (2010)—a proposition for the performance of a Noh play collapsing Eboshi-ori (the ancient Japanese tale of a young noble boy disguising himself to escape his troubled past) onto the Cold War saga that evolved around Henry Moore’s 1965 sculpture Nuclear Energy. Installed at the University of Chicago, Nuclear Energy marks the birthplace of both the nuclear age and the Manhattan Project, with Enrico Fermi’s first self-sustained nuclear reaction, Pile No. 1. However, somewhat bizarrely, a smaller version of the Chicago monument ended up in the collection of the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art under a different name, Atom Piece. Each role in the original Japanese play is taken by a new cast member, including James Bond, Anthony Blunt, Colonel Sanders, and Joseph Hirshhorn. Starling’s film shows us the crafting of the Noh masks to be used in the play, while a voiceover tells the story. In an antechamber, two masks based on Moore’s sculpture confront one another.

In addition to Project for a Masquerade (Hiroshima), In Speculum includes Le Jardin Suspendu (1998), which was made for Starling’s first Australian show, at the Museum of Modern Art at Heide; Wilhelm Noack oHG (2006), an elaborate, towering, helical steel structure which carries a 35mm film loop documenting the German engineering workshop in which it was fabricated; and Black Drop (2012), a film interweaving tales of Captain James Cook (who observed and recorded the transit of Venus across the sun from the island of Tahiti in 1769) and the French astronomer Pierre-Jules-César Janssen (who developed a chronophotographic device to monitor the 1874 transit that is recognised as a precursor to modern cinematography). Starling has also developed a new photographic work for the show, based on the massive Great Melbourne Telescope, currently being restored at Museum Victoria.

In Speculum is a joint project with Monash University Museum of Art, Melbourne, and City Gallery Wellington. Simon Starling—who won the Turner Prize in 2005—is represented by the Modern Institute, Glasgow, and Casey Kaplan, New York.