DIGNIFIED KINGS PLAY CHESS ON FINE
New work by KARL GRIMES
National Museum of Ireland, Kildare Street, Dublin: September 27 to November 4
Gallery of Photography, Temple Bar, Dublin: September 27 to November 4
The National Museum of Ireland (Natural History) and the Gallery of Photography, Dublin, jointly present Dignified Kings Play Chess on Fine Green Silk, a body of new work by artist Karl Grimes. The work, in two installations at the Gallery of Photography, and the National Museum, Kildare Street, is based on Grimes’s year-long term as artist-in-residence at the Natural History Museum, now celebrating its 150th anniversary.
The title, Dignified Kings Play Chess on Fine Green Silk, is a mnemonic - a phrase used to remember the Linnean taxonomic order made manifest in the Victorian museum - 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 and Victorian museum practice in Ireland becomes a re-collection, a poetic 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.
In the upper balcony of the National Museum, Grimes installs a series of large-scale animal portraits, the Taxum Totem series. These larger than life and richly hued images represent an act of re-curation and resurrection - a contemporary homage to 19th century observational science, the taxonomic collection, and a reminder of the key role played by both taxidermy and photography in the presentation of knowledge in natural history museums.
The exhibition at the Gallery of Photography goes behind the scenes of the Museum, presenting images and drawings from off-site storage areas, research archives, imaginary do-it-yourself taxidermy guides, and ways of telling the good from the bad curator. In a key work here, Killed Striking 1 & 2, Grimes also pays tribute to the Irish naturalist R.M.Barrington. His pioneering study of migratory birds around the Irish coastline in the late 19th century is here realised in sound and image. Grimes 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, transformed into a series of ‘strange and charmed’ billets-doux.
A full-colour publication accompanies the exhibition, with texts by Martin Kemp, Nigel Monaghan, David Norris and Stephanie McBride. Available from bookshops at the Gallery of Photography and the National Museum. ISBN 978-0-9552388-3-3
For further information, press scans or to arrange an interview with the artist, please contact Tanya Kiang, Gallery of Photography
T. (353-1) 6714654 F. (353-1) 6709293