Manifesta purposely strives to keep its distance from what are often seen as the dominant centres of artistic production, instead seeking fresh and fertile terrain for the mapping of a new cultural topography.

Simon J. Starling, GB

Simon J. Starling, Rescued Rhododendrons (Production Stills), 2000; Sonnenschein, Ljubljana, 2000; Plečnik Union, 2000 © Manifesta 3/xxx

Five C-type prints on aluminium

Rescued Rhododendrons (Production Stills) consists of five colour photographs which document a journey made by the artist Simon Starling from the north of Scotland to the southernmost tip of Spain. The journey inverted one made in 1763 by a Swedish botanist, Claes Alestroemer, who discovered Rhododendron Ponticum growing in the hills between Gibraltar and Cadiz and was the first to introduce it into cultivation in Britain. Discovering that a number of Ponticum plants were to be destroyed in order to protect the Scottish ecosystem, the artist set out to return these plants to their ancestors.

Starling’s work Sonnenschein, Ljubljana 2000 was similarly concerned with geographical shifts. It had as its starting point a small man-made hill used by the pioneering aviator Otto Lilienthal to launch his experimental gliders in the 1890s. Starling made regular pilgrimages to this site where he would harness solar power in a battery, then transport the battery by plane to various locations around the globe and use it to illuminate a lightbulb, thus creating a web of connections to the birthplace of aviation.