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Simon Starling - Tabernas Desert Run

This artwork consists of a hydrogen-powered bicycle and a watercolour painting contained within a Perspex case. The bicycle was made in Glasgow and then used by Starling to travel across the Tabernas Desert in Spain. During the journey, as a result of the unusual powering method, water was collected in a plastic bottle
attached to the bike. At the end of the journey, this water was used by Starling to paint the large watercolour of a ‘prickly pear’ cactus that hangs behind the bicycle in the vitrine.

For Simon Starling, the processes and research around his artworks are as important as the works themselves. In an artist’s statement that accompanies this work he explains some of the art historical references he has made:

The whole project is exhibited within a sealed Perspex vitrine, as a kind of closed, symbiotic system, referring in part to Hans Haacke’s ‘Condensation Cube’. The work of course makes a direct reference to Chris Burden’s 1977 ‘Death Valley Run’, a desert crossing made on a bike powered with a tiny petrol engine.

Starling studied at the Glasgow School of Art and lived and worked in Glasgow for many years before moving to Denmark. He won the Turner Prize in 2005

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