Simon Starling

Warrior With Shells


Right here on blogTO we recently asked what's happening with all those zebra mussels in Lake Ontario?

Well, one thing that's happening with them is art.

The Power Plant's new (and first) commissioned art work is Simon Starling's Infestation Piece (Musselled Moore), a piece that combines those pesky zebra mussels with that pesky British artist, Henry Moore.

In a project that took almost two years, Starling made a steel replica of Moore's famous Warrior With Shield sculpture, and then submerged it in Lake Ontario so it would get covered with -- yes -- zebra mussels. When it came out of the water, the mollusks died, but their craggy shells still stick there.

It's a piece for Toronto, through and through. We've always had a bit of a thing for Henry Moore -- it's probably common knowledge that the AGO's collection of his sculptures is one of the largest in the world, and The Archer still sits outside City Hall. But in the beginning, Moore was considered an outsider, and was unwelcome by some. Much like the mollusks, which are thought to have only started showing up here about twenty years ago, on trade vessels. (Of course, the mollusks have taken over an entire body of water and threaten almost everything living in it and, to my knowledge, Henry Moore never did anything quite that bad.) Still, the pairing raises questions about the city's ecologies, about outsiders, about what we choose and what we don't get to choose.

And even without all of that, it's still something to see -- if you stand in the right spot, you can look at the sculpture and see Lake Ontario sparkling innocently behind it, but if you get in really close, you can actually smell the lake, swampy and alive.

Infestation Piece (Musselled Moore) is at The Power Plant as part of Simon Starling's larger show "Cuttings (Supplement)" The show will be there until May 11, 2008. Infestation Piece will later be relocated to the AGO.

Image: Simon Starling, Infestation Piece (Musselled Moore), 2007/08. Photo courtesy of Tony Hewer.


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