Artist:
Simon Starling (born 1967 in Epsom, England; lives and works in Copenhagen, Denmark).

Description:
“The centerpiece of Simon Starling’s new exhibition at The Power Plant, Infestation Piece (Musselled Moore), demands some explanation to be fully understood. The story of the project starts in the late 1940s at the Art Gallery of Toronto (now the Art Gallery of Ontario) with negotiations to purchase a major work by the seminal British sculptor Henry Moore. In 1954, the gallery acquired Moore’s Warrior with Shield under a controversy that raised serious questions about the institutional art world’s disconnection from the work of practicing Canadian artists. Nonetheless, this initial acquisition established a relationship with the sculptor that would lead to substantial further purchases and eventually the artist’s 1974 donation of more than 900 works to the gallery’s collection. (An historical note: Moore’s donation came after the Tate’s refusal to take on the same collection.)

“Fast forward to the mid-1980s and the accidental introduction of zebra mussels into the Great Lakes via the bilge water of trading ships from the Black Sea. Zebra mussels proved to be a highly adaptable and prolific foreign species that quickly colonized in the Great Lakes system with dramatic impact that has affected not only the natural balance of indigenous lake species but also, for instance, blocking the water intake pipes for industrial and municipal power plants. A solution to this ongoing environmental invasion remains uncertain.

“Enter Infestation Piece (Musselled Moore). In 2006, Starling created a full-scale steel replica of Moore’s Warrior with Shield that was subsequently submerged in Lake Ontario with the intention of attracting and supporting the growth of zebra mussels. Despite some early resistance by the otherwise tenacious mollusk, the work was pulled from the lake early in 2008, time-worn and mussel-encrusted.”
—Bryne McLaughlin, “Simon Starling in Review: 21st-century Colonialism,” Canadian Art, March 27, 2008.

“Working almost like a novelist, Starling’s approach embodies active narration. This tendency emerges strongly in the new commission, Infestation Piece (Musselled Moore). Evoking the heated reception to Henry Moore’s work in 1960s Toronto, the sculpture also evokes the impact of the zebra mussel, native to the Black Sea, on the Great Lakes’ ecosystem. It also reflects upon the art object at its most elemental. As in this work, Starling often melds two or more stories. The exhibition’s title plays on both the botanical practice of grafting and the idea of recovering sections that have been omitted from a story. Throughout Starling’s practice, narratives multiply, inform and are grafted onto subsequent works. ‘Cuttings (Supplement)’ explores these overlapping concerns, taking Infestation Piece (Musselled Moore) as its starting point.”
—The Power Plant, “Simon Starling and Sadie Benning,” press release, February 29, 2008.

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