Simon Starling / SUPERFLEX – Reprototypes, Triangulations and Road Tests | May 30–October 14, 2012 | TBA21, Vienna

Simon Starling – Prouvé (Road Test), 2012
Truck, Jean Prouvé ‘Shed’ roof section c. 1950
Installation view: Simon Starling in collaboration with Superflex – Reprototypes, Triangualtions and Road Tests, TBA21, Vienna 2012
Photo: Jens Ziehe | TBA21

The inaugural exhibition at TBA21’s new premises at Augarten—Simon Starling in collaboration with SUPERFLEX: Reprototypes, Triangulations and Road Tests—showcases seminal works by the artists from the foundation’s renowned collection as well as new works produced for the Augarten.
Turner Prize winner Simon Starling (*1967) has been invited to work in collaboration with the Danish artists’ group SUPERFLEX to open and unfold the new spaces at Augarten. The exhibition showcases works by the artists from TBA21´s collection as well as delves into astronomical and historical explorations presented for the first time in and developed specifically for Vienna. Described as “possessed by a storyteller’s knack, a researcher’s zeal and a traveler’s nose for lucky finds,” Starling has produced a body of work that centers on excavated or personally established relations and resonances among objects, histories, narratives, and topographies. Endowed with a prodigiously associative imagination and an explorer’s frame of mind, he creates or reasserts connections between different places, cultural practices, and historical circumstances, in the process creating labyrinthine stories in which his exquisite and often humorous objects play a part. The Danish artists’ group SUPERFLEX, known for their forays into the copyright jungle and the world of reverse engineering, will present the results of a vertiginous investigation cum detective story regarding the history of the Augarten studio’s former occupant Gustinus Ambrosi. 
Based on intensive research and (self-)experimentation, Simon Starling's works take the form of multipart installations that incorporate technological trappings, films, photography, objects, performance, and publications. With a sharp interest in and a decisive concern for the historical and especially the history of science and technology, Starling implicates history’s untimely workings in the present.

Prouvé (Road Test) reactivates a piece of mid 20th century modernist design in a new way and in so doing kicks against the mummification of Jean Prouvé’s work within contemporary museum culture. Prouvé (Road Test) takes the aspirational nature of Prouvé’s 1950’s roof structure, Shed—a wing-like design that owes as much to aviation and automobile engineering as it does to functionalism in architecture—and puts it to the test under somewhat absurd but never the less fitting circumstances.

The multi-part installation Exposition, 2004 even proposes the juxtaposition of various historical events. The work collapses contemporary technology onte the developments of the Modernist era, specifically referencing the exhibition design by Lilly Reich made for the International Exposition in Barcelona in 1929. In addition, Exposition focuses on the precious platinum-group metals, which are present in the work in two very different manifestations. The first being in the form of three Platinium/Palladium prints, which are illuminated by three spotlights, which are in turn powered by electricity generated by a portable fuel cell. It is at the heart of this potentially revolutionary power source that we also find platinum metals.

For D1 - Z1 (22,686,575:1), 2009, Starling reconstructs what is considered to be the first freely programmable computer in the world, the Z1. Designed in 1936 by the engineer and artist Konrad Zuse (1910–95) with 172 bytes of memory and the ability to add, subtract, multiply and divide, the Z1 was completed in 1938 and ‘programmed’ using punched tape feed into a reader. The footage for D1 - Z1 (22,686,575:1) was generated using state-of-the-art computer animation technology including surface-rendering programs developed in Berlin. This computer-generated, ‘virtual’ reconstruction was then transferred onto traditional 35 mm film stock and exhibited on another piece of mid-century German technology—a Dresden D1 projector.

The work Three Birds, Seven Stories, Interpolation and Bifurcations, 2007 reveals that Starling is an artist of utmost ingenuity and humor and a fantastic storyteller, whose artistic work orbits around the excavated or personally established relations and resonances between objects, histories, narratives and topographies. draws on a number of different versions, both real and fictitious, of the same story—the story of a European architect being employed by a Maharajah to realize an ambitious building project in India. Endowed with a prodigiously associative imagination and an explorer’s frame of mind Starling creates or reasserts connections between different places, cultural practices and historical circumstances.

For Venus Mirrors (05/06/12, Hawaii & Tahiti (Inverted)), 2012, a new work by Simon Starling presented for the first time at Augarten, consists of two parabolic mirrors on which an hourly inscription of the transit of the planet venus across the sun is made. This event, that only occurs every 243 years, is recorded from two different geographical locations—every point representing an hour in the coordinate system of that place.

The collaborative project with the artists’ group SUPERFLEX (Rasmus Nielsen, Jakob Fenger and Bjørnstjerne Christiansen), Black Out, spans the entire exhibition space at Augarten and readdresses a nearly forgotten design by Poul Henningsen for the Tivoli amusement park in Copenhagen for a blackout lamp from 1942, thereby challenging the culture of copyright, which at times petrifies the circulation of ideas and inventions.
Kuh is a new work by SUPERFLEX developed for the Augarten studio. It focuses on the history of the premises and therefore of its initial inhabitant, Gustinus Ambrosi.
These projects and works—which combine the history of technology and labor with art history and practical aesthetics with philosophical aesthetics—present an alternative retelling and restaging of modernity, in which, to draw on Fredric Jameson, modernity becomes a “narrative category” of resonating events within the space of the contemporary.
May 30–October 14, 2012
Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary, 
TBA21–Augarten, Scherzergasse 1A, 1020 Vienna, Austria
Curated by
Daniela Zyman and Eva Wilson
Simon Starling / Superflex:
Reprototypes, Triangulations and Road Tests

Edited by Daniela Zyman and Eva Wilson
Thyssen-Bornemisza Art Contemporary 

With essays by Esther da Costa Meyer, Robin Mackay, Venugopal Maddipati, Mirjam Schaub, Birgit Schneider

144 pages, English
Graphic design: Sara Hartman, John McCusker
Sternberg Press

ISBN: 978-3-943365-23-8
Price: €29.00