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still life
Gallery of Photography, Dublin
MacLaurin Gallery, Scotland
ICP, New York
Art Exchange, New York

The unexpected presence of the anomalous human body is at once familiar and alien. 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 is not become confused.

The images in Still Life document congenital malformations 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 glass jars and preserved in formaldehyde, these tender beings became rationalised within the laboratory and the textbook. What was once the prodigious monster, the curiosity of nature, the ominous marvel or the divine foreboding, became the pathologised other, the abnormal.

In the discourse of Teratology, the science of monsters, we each occupy our own solitary site of discrimination. We rely on acquired vocabularies from science and superstition and inconsistent definitions of an elusive ideal. We enter a realm of troubled fascination. Our disquiet lies in the recognition that nature's fearful asymmetry is at the heart of our own identity. Images of what we have denied turn towards us.


35 Ektacolor prints 24 x 20 in (51 X 61cm) and 6 x 4ft (183 x 122cm). Edition of 2.
Triptych and wall text, 2 x 15ft (51 x 458cm) - variable dimensions. Edition of 1.
Video/Sound. The Case of Miss Pozetti. 6.15mins. Basement. 4.30mins. 2010.

Still Life is the first work in the Collected Body trilogy. Followed by Future Nature and Vial Memory, the works explore the medical and zoological archive as shrine and the human and animal body on display.

Collection of the artist
& Morris Collection, Detroit, MI
.


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