- Hardcover: 48 pages
- Publisher: Karl Grimes & National Museum of Ireland; 1 edition (September 20, 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0955238838
- ISBN-13: 978-0955238833
- Package Dimensions: 8.4 x 6.7 x 0.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #17,147,765 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Dignified Kings Play Chess On Fine Green Silk Hardcover – September 20, 2007
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Hardcover, September 20, 2007
The book and exhibition are based around the collection of stuffed and modelled animals in Dublin's Natural History Museum (The Dead Zoo, as it's known), a collection begun in the eighteenth century, shaped into a specific museum in the nineteenth century, and preserved today in its own building as a museum of a museum, retaining its Victorian architecture and its sense of the scientific order which could be given to nature's multiplicity.
The Natural History Museum is a testament to the brutal tenderness of Victorian collectors and the ways in which their imperial times animated a quest both for universal knowledge and for a culturally specific natural history of Ireland. Grimes' photographs circulate around these obsessions and histories, allowing for the interplay of stasis and motion, human and animal, which taxidermy in particular invokes to the contemporary eye. --SOURCE - WINTER 2007/ISSUE 53 Colin Graham
Taxonomies are philosophically risky propositions. Their systemic specificities must, by dint of task, impose an order that can only seem stultifying by comparison to the rude, unruly profusion of the natural world. Tension between the classifying grid of natural history and its irrepressibly prolific subject is the exploratory domain of photographer Karl Grimes's most recent work, installed simultaneously at the Gallery of Photography, Temple Bar, and the National Museum, Kildare Street. In Dignified Kings Play Chess On Fine Green Silk, Grimes trains his compassionate and thoughtful eye on the idiosyncrasies of Dublin's Natural History Museum, where he spent a year as artist-in-residence.
Privileging the image (as opposed to Foucault's textual focus) in his reading of natural history, he demonstrates that the 'descriptive exactitude' of the photograph, rather than underpinning the taxonomic system, may well undermine it. Invoking the careful observation beloved of Victorian science, Grimes intimates that its subjects stubbornly resist the neat categorisations required by the Linnaean system.
Grids recur regularly in Grimes's work, here shaping a framework entirely consistent with the subject matter. Killed Striking I is an engagement with the Barrington bird collection, a compulsive assembly of Ireland's aves, laid out in white boxes across the Museum's walls. In his quest to discover information about migratory patterns, R.M Barrington developed a network of light keepers, who posted him the wings and legs of birds which had died flying into lighthouses, blinded by the beams, often during storms.
The Museum still holds this collection of migratory fragments and their accompanying documents; Grimes depicts it in a grid of 39 photographs, each one comprising a square black-bordered envelope, divulging or obscuring its contents. The rhythms of wings and legs emerging from some of the regularised black and sepia squares counterpoint the paperwork and identification tags peeping from others, or the blank, refusing emptiness of still others. The trompe l'oeil quality of the pigment prints suggests sepia photographs, watercolours and gravures simultaneously, implying an eerie sense that one could pick up and handle the notes, invoices and disembodied limbs, such is their inferred physicality. The specificity of gesture, colour and texture in the animal remains sets them at organic odds with the rigid sameness of Barrington's civilised envelopes; they flutter, arc, struggle to escape the language and geometry binding them. The avian fragments resist their placement in the 'arrangement of the whole', pointing back to their origins, piercing the grid's order. Composed within a phalanx of white frames, their animation defies the intent of the collector to still and classify; they refuse to take their places in the 'boxed set'. --Sherra Murphy. Circa Magazine 122. Winter 2007
About the Author
Born in Dublin, Ireland. Studied Photography and Media at New York University and the International Center Of Photography, New York. His work is exhibited and published in the United States and Europe and is represented in a number of leading international public and private collections. He lectures in the School of Communications at Dublin City University and also collaborates on sculpture and media programmes in a number of New York institutions. His recent art & science projects include imaging, text and video collaborations with: American Museum of Natural History, New York; Mütter Museum, Philadelphia; La Specola Museum & Caregi Hospital, Florence, Italy; Hubrecht Laboratory, Netherlands; Tornblad Institute, Sweden and the National Museum of Ireland (Natural History). The artist lives and works in Dublin and New York.
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