MALAGA.- The Contemporary Art Center of Málaga
is presenting Recent History, a selection of works by the British artist, Simon Starling. His characteristic focus on preliminary research, his interest in architecture and art institutions and the recurring concept of changes of scale are all manifested in the central work in the exhibition. This site-specific creation is a reduced-scale model of the former Wholesale Market in Malaga (now home of the CAC Málaga), conceived in the manner of a set of Russian dolls. The result is a conceptual representation of the thinking that underlies Starlings working procedures, in which one idea or discovery leads on to another and eventually brings about unexpected connections of a temporal or historical nature. The exhibition has been organised by the CAC Málaga and will travel to the Tate St Ives next February through a collaborative agreement between the two institutions. This is the first time that Simon Starlings work has been exhibited in Spain since he was awarded the Turner Prize in 2005.
The internationally renowned British artist Simon Starling belongs to a new generation of conceptual artists. His works reflect his interest in the formal possibilities of everyday objects and craftwork. They are the result of lengthy, detailed processes of research and of solitary trips almost in the manner of pilgrimages that give rise to connections between different times and places. Starling conceives of his creations as performative projects, located midway between a utopian vision and a critique of mass production as opposed to craft processes. The artists creative spirit seems to be summed up in Antoine-Laurent Lavoisiers chemical law: Nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, everything is transformed.
This is evident in Recent History, the exhibition of Simon Starlings work at the CAC Málaga, which clearly reflects his interest in the history of art institutions. An evident example is the central work in the exhibition, a site-specific creation consisting of a 9-metre long model of the Centres own building, the previous function of which as the citys Wholesale Market fascinates the artist. Made with material extracted from the CAC Málagas own walls, the work, entitled 1:1, 1:10, 1:100 (2010), seems to correspond to the concept of a set of Russian dolls, with one idea or discovery following another. The Centres building, originally designed by the Rationalist architect Luis Gutiérrez Soto and opened in 1942, is now reinterpreted by Simon Starling almost 70 years later.
For Fernando Francés, Director of the CAC Málaga: Starling re-codifies present-day reality in what appears to be an ongoing quest for the natural origins of elements. His creations represent a constant desire to relocate the past in the present, in an almost obsessive manner. In addition, this process allows him to formulate questions on cultural values, the environment and the global economy. The quest for origins explains his interest in the process of production of his works and in conveying to the viewer the issue of how mass production is inevitably overwhelming craft techniques, as a consequence of which our imaginative powers and our identity as natural creative beings are becoming increasingly limited.
The origins of Particle Projection (Loop) (2007) also lie in the works context. It was created for the opening of the Wiels Art Centre in Brussels, which is located in a former distillery. In this work Starling once again links up two historical references, in this case relating to Belgian culture: the famous Atomium building in Brussels, built in the 1950s, and the celebrated artist Marcel Broodthaers, who worked on the construction of the Atomium, now the symbol of Brussels.
Another demonstration of the importance that Starling attaches to the past in order to explain the present is Archaeopteryx Lithographica (2008), which comprises a set of six lithographs based on a bird fossil known as the Archaeopteryx that was discovered in Germany in 1860 and which demonstrates the evolutionary relationship between animals and dinosaurs.
Starlings interest in the environment and mass production are again expressed in One Ton II (2005), through which he draws attention to the excessive consumption of the modern era, offering an overt critique based on the idea of the energy needed to produce a small amount of platinum.
Starlings creative motivation also finds its expression in the other works that constitute the present exhibition, namely Project for a Meeting (Chicago) (2010), 300:1 (after Wilhelm Wagenfeld) (2010), and D1-Z1 (22,686,575:1) (2009).
Like the conceptual artist Lawrence Weiner, Starling does not seem to be satisfied with the relationship that individuals establish with things and this may explain why he considers art a free space to explore. His exhibitions are the result of a painstakingly planned process in which the viewer not only sees a re-codified object but one that encourages him or her to delve into the history behind its construction and the transformation of material involved. In 2005 Starling was awarded the Turner Prize for Shedboatshed, a wooden hut that turned into a boat, in which he travelled down the Rhine in Germany, and which was subsequently reconverted into a shed for canoes.
Simon Starling (born Epsom, UK, 1967) studied at the Maidstone and Glasgow Schools of Art, and at Nottingham Polytechnic. He now lives and works in Copenhagen and has exhibited in some of the worlds leading museums, art centres and galleries, including the Museum of Contemporary Art (Sidney, Australia), Camden Arts Centre (London, UK), the Museum of Contemporary Art (Budapest, Hungary), and with Casey Kaplan (New York, USA).