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Simon Starling

(b. 1967)


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(1967– )

British artist. He was born in Epsom, Surrey, and lives in Germany. In his art, it is the process of making which is as significant as the final object. Indeed much of his work derives its power from the sense that the artist's intervention in the material is in itself part of a much larger historical and material process. In a work of 1996 he cut in half a silver ladle, converting half of it into fake twenty pence pieces. The ladle itself was a survival from a lost tradition of craftsmanship. The ‘fake’ pieces of money were paradoxically of higher value than ‘real’ ones. Starling has looked critically at the legacy of the Modern Movement, especially in the area of design and architecture in which it made such emancipatory claims. Pleçnik Union (2000) had its origins when Starling discovered a smashed lamp in Ljubljana, alongside the beer bottle which had broken it. The lamp was a classic modern design from around 1900. Both lamp and bottle were put together again from the fragments by Starling. Home-made Eames (2002, Guggenheim Museum, New York) is a reconstruction by hand of another classic modern design, a chair by Charles Eames which was the first to be mass produced in plastic. As such it was a landmark in the supposed ‘democratization’ of modern design, but the originals are now precious collectors' items. Starling comments on this transformation by returning the chair to individual craft production. Although Starling's work can be related to the ready-made in a changed world where mass production is the norm, he concentrates not on the commonplaceness of the object but on its singularity. This is made clear in his best-known work Shedboatshed (Mobile Architecture no. 2) (2005) in which he dismantled a shed on the banks of the Rhine, converted it into a boat, and carried it downstream to Basle, where he reconstituted it in the museum. He was awarded the Turner Prize in 2005.

Further Reading

G. Mann, ‘Simon Starling’, Frieze, issue no. 94 (October 2005)

Subjects: Art.


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