"Historical Collapse": Simon Starling's Phantom Ride At Tate Britain

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Simon Starling’s Phantom Ride is the new star of the show at London’s Tate Britain. Starling has shifted his gaze onto the Tate’s Duveen galleries and his new work explores the artistic displays that have been hung, or taken place within those walls, throughout the Tate’s history. Some works have been recreated, reinstalled, some footage has been shot by Starling and some images have been digitally, virtually created.

A story is told, in the sense that Starling presents the history of the space, but there is little room, in his eight minute film, for the works themselves to be developed and at times, Starling’s work feels “perilously close to being a promo movie for the gallery,” the Guardian report. Starling himself describes his work as a “historical collapse,” with an aim “to tell the story of this space in eight minutes of film… to take art works that have been shown here over a very long period and to force them to coexist for a moment.” He adds “It’s like a haunting, in a way. Like a sort of ghost story, I suppose.”

Included in the exhibition are Picasso’s 1944-5 The Charnel House, with bodies “cowering under a table,” Chris Burden’s ‘two minute airplane factory’ and Warhol’s gun-slinging Elvis triptych. Starling even recreates a “desolate field of rubble and broken glass,” to represent the devastation caused to the gallery in 1940 after a German bomb exploded nearby.


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