Future Nature

Karl Grimes: Reedbuck, c-print / diasec., 183 x 122 cm, 2003, Morris Collection

Through large scale photographs, light boxes and video, Future Nature, engages with the themes of retrieval and resurrection – bringing to light and into the light the objects and specimens previously hidden in dispersed spirit archives and research databanks. The work, begun in 2002, takes as its content the unique animal embryos and foetuses housed in the collections of the Hubrecht Laboratory, Utrecht, Netherlands, and the Tornblad Institute, University of Lund, Sweden.

These collections are among the largest and most scientifically valuable non-human embryo depositories in the world. They were largely assembled in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by Ambrosius Arnold Willem Hubrecht (1853–1915) in Utrecht and by Ivar Broman (1868–1946) in Lund. The Hubrecht Collection is now housed in the Museum für Naturkunde in Berlin.

Future Nature stands as both requiem and genesis. The mode of display and artifice transform these collections of pre- and postnatal animals, collapsing their past into a timeless, liminal, ambivalent space – where they are constantly on the verge of becoming… yet frozen in time. This is the paradox throughout: a fantasy future of vibrant Disney-world displays, of long-extinct creatures, or perhaps of those which never came into being. Captured in a state of grace, the images invite us to view and enter a contemplative mode – where colour and large scale render them both close-up yet distant, creating an allegorical world where death and immortality are present(ed) in living colour.

 

All images © Karl Grimes

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... a fantasy future of vibrant Disney-world displays, of long-extinct creatures, or perhaps of those which never came into being.