Simon Starling interview: Invoking the Ghosts



“I hope what I manage to do is to create an immediate experience that can initially engage the viewer who can then decide whether to go deeper into the work. The works tend to be kind of layered in that way. There are these kinds of attention-grabbing objects or images sometimes. But then you start to read the title, maybe a text or a catalog, and the full breadth of the work starts to emerge from that engagement.”

Simon Starling is a conceptual artist, whose body of work stretches from installations and sculptures to films and photographic pieces. Starling often highlights universal issues, by means of exploiting specific places, items, or sets of circumstances.

Such is the case with his work Autoxylopyrocycloboros, a self-defeating journey. For this artwork, Starling made a four-hour voyage across Loch Long in Scotland in a small wooden steamboat.

By slowly chipping away at the wooden material of the boat and feeding it to the engine, ultimately causing the boat to sink, Starling points to the controversial presence of the UK’s nuclear submarines at the lake, while also creating a powerful comment about sustainability and climate change.

Born in Epsom, Surrey, Starling went on to study photography as well as art Maidstone College of Art, Trent Polytechnic Nottingham, and Glasgow School of Art, respectively in the 1980s and early 90s. His works are featured in the permanent collections of some of the world’s most renowned art museums, including Tate Modern, the Guggenheim Museum, and Moderna Museet in Stockholm.

Starling has also received numerous awards, including the prestigious Turner Prize, for his work Shedboatshed, involving a wooden shed, being turned into a boat, sailing it down the river Rhine and then turning it back into a shed again.

Simon Starling was interviewed by Marc-Christoph Wagner at his studio in Copenhagen, Denmark, in February 2021.

Camera: David Schweiger
Edited by David Schweiger and Marc-Christoph Wagner
Produced by David Schweiger
Copyright: Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2021
Supported by Den A.P. Møllerske Støttefond.

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