Karl Grimes: Still Life
Still Life is a series of large color images of natal congenital abnormalities drawn from international medical collections. Such collections of specimens, classified as ‘monsters’, were used for research in universities and teaching hospitals from the mid-nineteenth century onwards. Stored in sealed jars and preserved in formaldehyde, these babies have long outlived their makers. Today, their very existence is often considered problematic in a politically correct milieu.
In his work, Karl Grimes is interested in the cultural and scientific definitions of ‘normality’. This new exhibition explores the ways in which our troubled fascination with the prodigious body is fundamental to our definition of self.
As spectators, the sight of strange corporeal figurations inspires contradictory responses: recognition and denial, fascination and fear, identification and rejection. When a form departs from our preferences and desired fantasies, we gaze with unrest and suspicion. Comforting distinctions between what is human, and what is not, become confused.
Grimes’ large photographs confront us with a directness rare in contemporary image making. His use of color gives these beings a tender life within their glass containers, elevating each image out of the realm of simple scientific documentation. Laboratory equals gallery. These works are powerful, without apology: they are an observation of nature’s other side.
A public discussion with Karl Grimes and Medb Ruane will take place in the Gallery on Saturday April 4th at 2:00pm.