Taking its title from a essay by the Japanese photographer Hiroshi Sugimoto that investigates the relationship between photography, time and the tradition of masked Japanese Noh theatre, this talk will be based around two of Simon Starling’s recent exhibitions that redeploy the work of other artists. The first, Never the Same River (Possible Futures, Probable Pasts) realised at Camden Art Centre existed somewhere between an artist selected group show and a gesamtkunstwerk and involved reinstalling works shown at Camden over the last 50 years. All these works, that themselves “worry at the borders of our understanding of time”, were repositioned in the exact same spot they had occupied the first time they were shown, creating an unsettling polyphonic or at times cacophonic temporal experience temporal. The second exhibition, Project for a Masquerade (Hiroshima), uses the temporally complex space of Noh theatre, a space in which the ghosts assume human form, the old become young and the young old, as a structure to investigate the complex history of Henry Moore’s sculpture Atom Piece (1964-65). This simple domed form on a rough-hewn tripod has a bizarre double life both as a monument to the beginnings of the atom bomb project in Chicago, Enrico Fermi’s Pile No. 1, and simultaneously as an autonomous work within the context of the collection of the Hiroshima City Museum of Contemporary Art.
SIMON STARLING is born in 1967 in Epsom, UK. In 1977 he buys one second of one minute of one hour in a raffle and wins his first camera. In 1980 he builds his first home-darkroom and in 1992 he is awarded a Master of Fine Arts at Glasgow School of Art. Between 1993 and 1996 he serves as committee member at Transmission Gallery, Glasgow. In 1995 he makes his first solo exhibition at the Showroom Gallery, London for which he reconstructs part of the London exhibition space in Glasgow to use as a studio [An Eichbaum Pils Beer Can…]. In1997 he builds a small fishing boat in Marseille from a museum display case from the National Museum of Scotland, Edinburgh [Blue Boat Black] and makes a chair out of a bicycle and a bicycle out of a chair [Work, Made-ready, Kunsthalle Bern]. In 1998, following a trip to Ecuador to find a balsa tree, he flies a radio-controlled airplane over the Museum of Modern Art at Heidi, Melbourne [Le Jardin Suspendu]. In August 2002 he digs up a large Cereus cactus on the set of the ‘Texas Hollywood Film Studio’ and transports it 2,145 km to Frankfurt am Main, Germany in a red Volvo 240 Estate [Kakteenhaus]. In 2003 he displays an unwanted public artwork in the Palazzo Levi on the Grand Canal as part of Zenomap, Scotland’s contribution to the Venice Biennale [Island for Weeds, Prototype] and starts work as Professor of Fine Arts at the Staedelschule, Frankfurt. In 2004 he is shortlisted for the Hugo Boss Prize and in the following year wins the Turner Prize. In 2008 he makes exhibitions in among other places, a derelict bathhouse in Glasgow, Scotland [Project for a Public Sculpture (After Thomas Annan)], a semi-derelict factory in Dornbirn, Austria [Plant Room] and a fantastically narrow, seven story house in Turin, Italy known as the ‘Fetta di Polenta’ (Slice of Polenta)[Three Birds, Seven Stories, Interpolations and Bifurcations]. In 2011 Starling reinstalls over 30 works from Camden Art Centre’s exhibition history in the exact same place they were originally shown [Never the Same River (Possible Futures, Probable Pasts)] and collapses a 16th century Japanese Noh play onto the complex story surrounding the double life of Henry Moore’s sculpture ‘Atom Piece’ [Project for a Masquerade (Hiroshima)].