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Vial Memory - Reliquiae
SPACER
Mutter Instruments
 

Karl Grimes. Specula. 2005. C print on archival rag paper.
24 x 36in (89 x61cm). Edition of 3. Mütter Museum.
Collection of the artist & Ruden Collection, New York.


Vial Memory explicitly invokes scientific process and human consciousness. On one level functioning as a form of memento mori with their intimations of mortality, yet the vivid spectacularity of the images also imply a very live and vi(t)al memory. Harnessing photography’s trompe l’oeil, Grimes’s work rescues these histories from the dust of the museum’s cabinets in the Mütter Museum, Philadelphia, relaying their memories through light, gel and colour. The heart, itself structured into the rhetoric of medical Illustration, is here re-presented in a highly-charged theatre of blood-red hues. The familiar motif of the vanitas is reconfigured in a gleeful dance macabre.

The fragile boundaries between life, death and decay are suggested in these high-energy images - opening up portals into another world of past pathologies and lost medical processes. While the taxonomy of the museum and scientific order were intended as a bulwark against amorphous emotional excess, in a curious way, in spite of (or, perhaps, because of it) the excess of spectacle in this series of images arrest and unsettle the viewer - conjuring up both the past and the ever-presence of death and disease.

The collection of candy-coloured images invite and involve us in a reflection on the body in medical history, in different knowledge systems and on diverse artistic modes of response. Echoing the concerns of artists such as Bill Viola and Marc Quinn, Grimes engages with the museum’s rhetoric and culture of display so that his work becomes an act of critical curation - drawing to the surface spectacle the weight of the past in the present.


Stephanie McBribe. The Laboratory of the Imagination: the photographic practice of Karl Grimes


30 Chromogenic prints & light boxe
s. 36 x 24in (92 x 66cm) & 72 x 48in (183 x 122cm).
Mr Browne's Facial Slice. Video/Sound. 4mins.
Die-cast Opthalmophantome. Triptch. Prints on rag paper. 36 x 72 in (92 x 183cm).
Image dimensions variable for gallery spaces.

Mütter
/Wood Institute Grant 2005.

Vial Memory is the final part in the Collected trilogy. Following Still Life and Future Nature, the work marks a return to the medical archive as shrine and the body on display. The project is an art/science collaboration with the Mütter Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, U.S.A.


Head
mutter 2 facialslice
human skeleton storage instrument collection (detail) Glass Eye Boy
Eye Model wax models Skull Slice
Skull Cabinet Skull Instruments
Vial 1 Vial 2 Vial 3
Vagina Facial Slice Penis
wet face
Baby 1 Hair Baby 2
Ink Baby
Slice 1 Eye Face Slice 2
Model Detail 1 Radient Baby Model Detail 2
Pessary 2
Pessary
Specimen Section
Twins
Model Skeleton Heart
Karl Grimes. From the Vial Memory series, Mütter Museum. 2005. C prints on archival rag paper.
36 x 24 in & 24 x 36in (89 x61cm). Editions of 3. Mütter Museum.
Collection of the artist & Ruden Collection, New York.
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STIGMATISED
DEAD ZOO
VIAL MEMORY
MR B
KILLED STRIKING
AMIRA
FUTURE NATURE
STILL LIFE
R BLOCK
DIGNIFIED KINGS
GRIDS SOAP STUFFED HISTORIES

 

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