Name Calling Chinchilla, Beggars Bush. Dublin. 2007. Top: Natural History Museum Interior. 2007.
C print and silicon, 40 x 60 in (100 x 150cm). Editions of 1. Collection of the artist & Morris Detroit.
The National Museum of Ireland (Natural History) and the Gallery of Photography, Dublin, jointly presented Dignified Kings Play Chess on Fine Green Silk, a body of work by Karl Grimes based on his artist-in-residency at the Natural History Museum. The title, Dignified Kings Play Chess on Fine Green Silk, is a mnemonic - a phrase used to remember the Linnean taxonomic order of: Domain, Kingdom, Phylum, Class, Order, Family, Genus and Species.
In photographs, drawings, lightboxes, text and sound, Grimes’s re-interpretation of the Natural History Museum’s collections in Dublin and Victorian museum practice in Ireland becomes a re-collection, a transformation activating memory and re-awakening the ‘Dead Zoo’. The museum as a repository of knowledge, historical regimes of representation and ways of seeing are here addressed as Grimes applies his practice to the archives and hidden narratives of the Museum.
" The 19th century saw the first generation of professional naturalists who set curatorial standards in the burgeoning national and regional collections across the British Isles, Europe and North America. The museums, with their taxonomic and geographic displays, paraded the naturalists’ order on an unprecedented scale. The skills of the taxidermists brought the dead to anthropomorphized life, with bristling fur, sparkling eye, gleaming teeth, fluttering feather, squawking beak and pointed claw.
Karl Grimes perfectly captures the spirit of the Barringtonian enterprise, and draws fresh delights from it. His camera stares from lighthouses over the seas, awaiting migrant birds. Flight feathers protrude from their neatly stored envelopes. Exotic beasts lurk incongruously in backstairs repositories. Long-deceased furry creatures stimulate physiognomic responses that we somehow can’t resist. The filmic jaws of plastic sharks await the eager gasp of young shoppers. And, not least in this context, the professional skills of the museum employees are duly if ironically recorded."
Taxum Totem. 50Chromogenic prints & light boxes.36x26in (92x66cm), 72x48in (183x122cm),
Installation: Sound work, Hoodwink (4.7mins), display cases,wall text. Killed Striking. 70 Archival pigment prints in grid.
36x26in (92x66cm) & 72x48in (183x122cm). From the Lighthouse. 25 Archival pigment prints. 23.5x 48in (56x122cm) each. Bird Wall. 20 Chromogenic prints in grid. 24x20in (61x51cm) each. Irish Lights. Archival map and sound synchronised LED light work.
Installation: Sound work, Killed Striking (7.6mins). Grimes & Lawrence. Home Trophies for Natural Living. Series of 8. Drawings on archival rag paper. 26 x 21cm each.
Travel Tips for Gentlemen. Series of 8. Archival pigment prints. 36 x 28cm each. Archival letters,
wall text, display case.
Image dimensions variable for gallery spaces.
A full-colour publication accompanies the exhibition, with texts by Martin Kemp, Karl Grimes, Nigel Monaghan, David Norrisand Stephanie McBride. Available from bookshops at the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin, Deyrolle, Rue du Bac, Paris and Amazon.com. ISBN 978-0-9552388-3-3
Supported by the Arts Council of Ireland, National Museum of Ireland, Gallery of Photography, Dublin, and the Morris Foundation, U.S.A.