For the current exhibition in this series, the British artist and Turner Prize recipient Simon Starling (b. 1967) created a new work based on his exploration of the documentary photography in the photographic archive as well as the hitherto unwritten history of the photographic studio of the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart.
Although a »photographic service« was already being carried out at the museum as early as 1921, only very little photographic material has survived from the pre-World-War-Two era. In 1950 the photographic studio was re-established for the purpose of documenting the museum’s collection and its presentations. The associated photographic archive today holds about twenty thousand black and white negatives, slides and small, medium and large-scale prints showing not only individual works of art but also views of installations of the collection, of exhibitions and of exhibition openings.
Having worked for a brief period as a photographer for museums and galleries in Scotland in the early 1990s, in his selection from the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart photographic archive Starling concentrated primarily on views of installations of the permanent collection and major individual works. The latter themselves bear a strong relationship to photography, reproduction and repetition – for example Giorgio de Chirico’s Metaphysical »Interior with Large Factory« (1916) as a picture within a picture, Franz Gertsch’s photorealist painting »Patti Smith V« (1979) or Wolfgang Tillmans’s photographic works from the Staatsgalerie holdings.
To reproduce the photographs he chose of artworks in the collection, Starling reactivated an old analogue copy camera belonging to the museum’s photographic studio but today no longer in use.
With the large-scale inkjet prints thus produced – more than forty in number – he creates an installation uniting photographs of various works from a range of different presentation contexts within the museum over the past sixty years, placing them in relation to one another and showing new interlinks and interconnections between them. With digital reproductions of analogue reproductions of artworks, new artworks thus emerge, full of mutual analogies. By reconstructing the former darkroom of the Staatsgalerie’s photographic studio in the exhibition room, he moreover makes the production means visible for the viewer.