Kuh is a work by SUPERFLEX developed for the Augarten studio. It focuses on the history of the premises and therefore of its initial inhabitant, Gustinus Ambrosi.
In 1942 the sculptor Gustinus Ambrosi was commissioned by Albert Speer, then minister of armaments and war production for the Third Reich, to model the sculpture Jungfrau mit Kuh (Maiden with Cow) for the park of the New Reich Chancellery in Berlin to pair with Louis Tuaillon’s already existing Youth with Bull. Ambrosi identified the perfect Fleckvieh cow in Kitzbühel, Tirol, to pose as a model for this prestigious artwork. In 1945 he wrote to his formidable patrons, pleading with them to provide the means to secure the upkeep for the cow - named “Königin” (“Queen”) - even in the final throes of World War II.
Ritta and Hektor, the female heifer and male yearling who have been transported from Kitzbühel to Vienna, are descendants of Königin from the original Tirolean herd. SUPERFLEX have brought them to Ambrosi's last studio to serve as a living portal to the past and as tokens of the sculptor’s affection for the cow.
Extract from TBA21 pressrelease:
Simon Starling in collaboration with SUPERFLEX
Reprototypes, Triangulations and Road Tests
Turner Prize winner Simon Starling (*1967) has been invited to work in collaboration with the Danish artists’ group SUPERFLEX to open and unfold the new spaces at Augarten. The inaugural exhibition Simon Starling in collaboration with SUPERFLEX – Reprototypes, Triangulations and Road Tests showcases seminal works by the artists from TBA21´s renowned collection as well as delves into astronomical and historical explorations presented for the first time in and developed specifically for Vienna. Described as “possessed by a storyteller’s knack, a researcher’s zeal and a traveller’s nose for lucky finds,” Starling has produced a body of work that centers on excavated or personally established relations and resonances among objects, histories, narratives, and topographies. Endowed with a prodigiously associative imagination and an explorer’s frame of mind, he creates or reasserts connections between different places, cultural practices, and historical circumstances, in the process creating labyrinthine stories in which his exquisite and often humorous objects play a part. The Danish artists’ group SUPERFLEX, known for their forays into the copyright jungle and the world of reverse engineering, will present the results of a vertiginous investigation cum detective story regarding the history of the Augarten studio’s former occupant Gustinus Ambrosi.
SUPERFLEX / Kuh, 2012
"It is difficult to gauge, especially as an outsider, how much of Ambrosi's ghost is left in the building and whether or not it makes sense to evoke these ghosts. Perhaps any attempt of not talking about it in the context would be too much of a negation, almost as a Freudian Verneinung. 'I had a dream but can't remember who was in it but surely it was not my mother...' And suddenly it is all about the mother. Or the other way around when laying all the possible available cards on the table ends up banalizing the past, evens it out. But perhaps the story of Ambrosi's cow transcends this dilemma by going beyond the immediate historical limitations. This is a cow that in the mayhem of the war caught the gaze of Ambrosi, possibly Speer and maybe even Hitler and caused them to feel compassion and worry on behalf of it."