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, 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
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
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
Stephanie McBribe. The Laboratory of the Imagination: the photographic practice of
30 Chromogenic prints & light boxes. 36x26in (92x66cm) & 72x48in (183x122cm)
Mr Browne's Facial Slice. Video/Sound. 4mins.
Die-cast Opthalmophantome. Triptch. Prints on rag paper. 36 x 72in (92 x 183cm)
Image dimensions variable for gallery spaces.
Mütter Fellowship Award 2005. Touring 2011 - 2013
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.
All Rights Reserved © Karl Grimes 2017