Simon Starling's cryptic critiques

Amid the protests of some, artist Simon Starling won the prestigious Turner Prize this week for his project Shedboatshed, in which he dismantled a wooden shed he found along the Rhine, tranformed it into a boat which he then navigated downstream to Basel where he reconstructed it once again as a shed. His work is compelling to me because it often frames the political in less obvious, often unexpected, and sometimes confounding ways. Take his project planned for next fall, which involves chucking a sculpture from the Art Gallery of Ontario's collection into Lake Ontario: "There is a big problem with zebra mussels in the lake which have invaded and taken over, and there is a Henry Moore in Toronto called Warrior with Shield. I thought it would be nice to grow some mussels on the Henry Moore for six months, then take it out and exhibit it in a museum." Or his Tabernas Desert Run, a hydrogen-fuelled bicycle on which he crossed the Spanish desert. While his work can be puzzling, it often seems socially engaged without being so overt and angry as to guarantee its eventual irrelevance: while some art that addresses current issues can (and must, at times) be direct in protesting or informing, which means it's visceral power is tied to one time and place, Starling's art remains cryptic enough to contain new meanings for different times.

More on Starling, including audio interviews, here. Via Treehugger.

Earlier: "A Shaman's Call: Joseph Beuys and America."

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