Born in Dublin, Ireland. Studied at University College Dublin, graduating with a B.Soc.Sc and an M.A in Urban Planning. He later studied Photography and Media at New York University and the International Center Of Photography, New York, graduating with an M.F.A. 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.
His practice is primarily concerned with the politics and hidden narratives implicit in science, medical, religious and natural history archives, museums and shrines. To this end, his projects address the binaries pertaining to nature/culture, living/dead, beautiful/grotesque, desire/disgust, subject/object and human/nonhuman.
His museum, archive and art/science projects include imaging, text, and video collaborations with the: American Museum of Natural History, New York; Mütter Museum & College of Physicians of Philadelphia; La Specola Museum, Florence, Italy; University of Florence Museum of Pathological Anatomy, Caregi Hospital, Florence, Italy; Hubrecht Laboratory, Netherlands; Tornblad Institute, Sweden; National Museum of Ireland (Natural History); Museum fur Naturkunde, Berlin; Science Gallery Dublin and the Comune di Napoli, Italy.
His solo exhibitions include: Photo Graphic Constructs, Travels in Amira, Grid Works, Still Life, R Block, Future Nature, Vial Memory, Stuffed Histories, Dignified Kings Play Chess On Fine Green Silk, Stigmatised and Per Grazia Ricevuta. He is currently completing a documentary and image archive project, Favours From Beyond, on the material culture of vernacular religious cult praxes in Naples, Italy.
The artist lives and works in West Cork, Ireland, and New York, NY
Photography books by
- 2007, Dignified Kings Play Chess On Fine Green Silk. Texts by Martin Kemp, David Norris, Nigel Monaghan and Stephanie McBride.
National Museum of Ireland. ISBN 978-0-9552388-3-31
Photography books with contribution by
- 2009, Acts of Seeing – Artists, Scientists and the History of the Visual. Marina Wallace, Assimina Kaniari.. London. Artakt/Zidane Press. 978-0955485084.
- 2008, Nature Fragile – Le Cabinet Deyrolle. Louis Albert de Broglie, Claude d’ Anthenaise. Paris. Beaux Arts Editions. 978-2842786533.
- 2008, Queering the Non/Human. Noreen Giffney, Myra Hird. Ashgate Publishing. 978-0-7546-7128-2
- 2002, Images From Science. Michael Perez, Andrew Davidhazy. Rochester NY. RIT Cary Graphic Arts Press. 0-9713459-9-6 & 978-0-9713459-9-7
- 2001, Vulnerable Bodies and Ontological Contamination. Margrit Shildrick. In Contagion: Historical and Cultural Studies. Routledge. 0-425-24671-7
Awards and honours
- 2011 Morris Foundation Research Award. USA.
- 2009 Visual Arts Bursary. Arts Council of Ireland.
- 2006 Visual Arts Bursary/Projects Award. Arts Council of Ireland.
- 2005 Travel & Mobility Award. Arts Council of Ireland
- 2004 Wood Fellowship. The College of Physicians of Philadelphia. USA.
- 2004 Professional Development Award. Arts Council of Ireland
- 2003 Arts Council of Ireland. Travel & Mobility Award.
- 2001 Arts Council Projects Award.
- 1998 Visual Arts Bursary. Arts Council of Ireland
- 1997 Visual Arts Bursary. The Scottish Arts Council.
- 1996 Visual Arts Bursary. Arts Council of Ireland.
- 1995 DHL Artlift Award, Dublin, Ireland.
- 1995 Arts Award. Department of Foreign Affairs, Ireland.
- 1994 Professional Enhancement Grant. IIE, New York, NY.
- 1993 Fulbright Award. United States Embassy, Dublin, Ireland.
- 1991 Visual Arts Bursary. Arts Council of Ireland.
- 1989 Sunday Times Award. News International, London, UK.
- 1987 Cecil Beaton Vogue/Sotheby’s Award for Photography. UK.
- 2011 Stigmatised. SEA Istanbul. The 17th International Symposium on Electronic Art.
- 2011 Stigmatised. Linnaeus University, Kalmar, Sweden.
- 2010 Taxum Totem. National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, Dublin, Ireland.
- 2007 Dignified Kings Play Chess On Fine Green Silk. National Museum of Ireland.
- 2007 Killed Striking. Gallery of Photography, Dublin, Ireland.
- 2006 Vial Memory. Mütter Museum, Philadelphia. U.S.A.
- 2003 Future Nature. Nikolai Fine Art, New York, NY.
- 2002 Future Nature. 5th @ Guinness Storehouse, Dublin, Ireland.
- 2000 Stuffed Histories. Nikolai Fine Art, New York, NY (toured).
- 1999 Desirable States and Inglorious Lifestyles. Limelight, New York, NY. Projections.
- 1998 R Block. Nikolai Fine Art, New York, NY.
- 1998 Still Life. Gallery of Photography, Dublin, Ireland.
- 1997 (Re)visions of Sex. Maclaurin Gallery, Ayr, Scotland. Fotofeis 1997.
- 1995 Looking Up From The Ice. Washington Square East Gallery, New York University.
- 1995 Travels in Amira. Rackham Gallery, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI, USA.
- 1994 Unbalanced Symmetry. Soho Photo Gallery, New York, NY.
- 1993 Travels in Amira. Gallery of Photography, Dublin. (toured).
- 1992 Portrait of a Disappointment. Birmingham Billboard Project. U.K.
- 1991 Photo Graphic Constructs. Triskel Arts Centre, Cork, Ireland.(toured).
- 1990 A Private Space. Le Chanjour Gallery, Nice, France. (toured).
- 2017 Wundercamera. Telfair Museum of Art. Savannah, Georgia. USA. Feb-March.
- 2014 Material World. Loftoo Art Space. Shanghai. China. March 2014-April 2014.
- 2014 Wundercamera. The Holden Gallery. Manchester. UK. March 2013-May 2014.
- 2013 Wundercamera. PM Gallery and House. London. UK. Nov 2013-Jan 2014.
- 2013 Irish Wave 2013. Festival of Visual Art. Beijing/Shanghai, China. March-April 2013.
- 2013 Legacy. Fine Art College of Shanghai University. China. March-April 2013.
- 2013 A Tale of Two Cities. Nouart Gallery. Bejing, China. March-April 2013.
- 2013 Baby, Baby. Irish Centre Shanghai. Shanghai, China. March-April 2013.
- 2011 30 Skies at the Cross with Babe. DUMBO Collective. Brooklyn, New York.
- 2010 Shop if You Can Look If You Want. St Patrick’s Festival. Dublin, Ireland.
- 2009 INFECTIOUS – Stay Away. Science Gallery, Dublin, Ireland.
- 2009 Irish Contemporary Drawing. The 411 Galleries. Shanghai, China.
- 2008 Nature Fragile. Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, Paris.
- 2008 30 Contemporary Collection. Gallery of Photography, Dublin, Ireland.
- 2007 Inter-Changes. Fulbright 50 Exhibition. Farmleigh Gallery, Dublin, Ireland.
- 2006 20 Years In. International Center of Photography, New York. NYU/ICP. USA.
- 2006 University of Puerto Rico, Puerto Rico
- 2005 Harvard University, Boston, USA
- 2004 Rijnstate Hospital, Arnhem, Netherlands.
- 2004 Animality. Blue Oyster Gallery, Dunedin, New Zealand
- 2003 The Nature Museum, Chicago. USA
- 2003 Images From Science. New York Hall of Science, Brooklyn, New York, USA
- 2003 Scope New York. Chelsea Piers, New York, NY, USA
- 2002 Images From Science. Rochester Institute of Technology, New York., USA
- 2002 Retro-Spective. Nikolai Fine Art. New York, USA
- 2000 Hudson River Museum, New York, NY
- 2000 San Francisco Art Fair/Nikolai Fine Art, USA.
- 2000 Miami Art Fair/Nikolai Fine Art, USA.
- 1999 Photo Synthesis. Rare Gallery, New York, USA.
- 1999 Contemporary Art: Arts Council Collection, Temple Bar, Dublin. Ireland
- 1999 Art & Artifice. Nikolai Fine Art. New York, USA
- 1998 New York Photography Fair. Nikolai Fine Art, New York, USA.
- 1998 EV+A. Blood Memorial, installation at St Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, Ireland.
- 1998 Art Exchange. Caregi Hospital Series. Wall Street, New York, USA.
- 1996 Pulse Art. R Block Series. New York, NY, USA.
- 1995 Rosenberg Gallery. Grid Works. New York, NY, USA.
- 1990 Zoom On Europe. Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin, Ireland.
- 1990 Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris. Prix Air France/Ville de Paris. France.
- Favours From Beyond – Per Grazia Ricevuta (2020)
A documentary and archive project on the material culture of vernacular religious cult praxes in Naples, Italy. The project, in association with the Comune di Napoli, is the first comprehensive archive and visual typology of the diverse range of beliefs, rituals, skull shrines and associated objects from a number of urban sites in central Naples.
- Stigmatised (2009)
A series of human host portraits, an atlas of outward signs of infectious pathogens and potential communicable diseases. Presented as an illuminated physiognomy of corporeal manifestations, the light box drawings explore the ways that visual representations have traditionally informed our knowledge, inner fears and aversion to illness, working as a form of ‘sympathetic magic’ in relation to the law of contagion.
- Dignified Kings Play Chess on Fine Green Silk (2007)
The National Museum of Ireland (Natural History) and the Gallery of Photography, Dublin, jointly presented Dignified Kings Play Chess on Fine Green Silk. The work, in two installations at the Gallery of Photography and the National Museum, was based on the artist’s year-long term as artist-in-residence at the Natural History Museum.
The work consists of six distinct yet interrelated research projects: Dignified Kings; The Curious Case Of Mr B and His Bird Parts; Killed Striking; Taxum Totem; Travel Tips for Gentlemen; and Home Trophies for Natural Living.
In photographs, drawings, lightboxes, text and sound, his 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 addressed as Grimes applies his practice to the archives and hidden narratives of the Museum.
- Vial Memory (2005)
Vial Memory explicitly invokes scientific process and human consciousness. On one level functioning as a form of memento mori with their intimations of mortality, yet the vivid spectacularity of the images also imply a very live and vi(t)al memory. Harnessing photography’s trompe l’oeil, the work rescues these histories from the dust of the museum’s cabinets in the Mütter Museum, Philadelphia, relaying their memories through light, gel and colour. The heart, itself structured into the rhetoric of medical Illustration, is here re-presented in a highly-charged theatre of blood-red hues. The familiar motif of the vanitas is reconfigured in a gleeful dance macabre.
- Future Nature (2002)
The project is based on the unique collections of embryological specimens of vertebrate species at the Hubrecht Laboratory in Utrecht and the Tornblad Institute in Lund. Among the largest and most scientifically valuable non-human embryo depositories in the world, they were assembled in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries by zoologist Ambrosius Arnold Willem Hubrecht (1853–1915) in Utrecht and by physician Ivar Broman (1868–1946) in Lund.
Consisting of large scale photographs, light boxes, videos and sound works, 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. The project in its entirety is now housed in the Museum für Naturkunde (Museum of Natural History) in Berlin.
- Stuffed Histories (2000)
Through the pseudo-immortalistic discipline of photography, the large chromogenic prints in Stuffed Histories offer nostalgic cameos that reinterpret the natural artifice of museum diorama display. Hyper-real saturations of colour and light illuminate each biological cartoon examining the authenticity of the real and the ideal, the actual and the illusion. Instrumental in the initial assembly of the dioramas, the photographer once again ventures out into ‘the field’, this time from the darkness of museum halls and basements at the American Museum of Natural History, New York, to record these stolen moments: iconic records of a lost narrative.
- Still Life (1998)
The images in Still Life document congenital malformations from Italian 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.
- R Block (1998)
A series of C-type prints based on a collection of indexed medical portraits recovered from an abandoned medical archive in Brooklyn, New York. Subjects pose in their Sunday best for formal pathological ‘mug shots’ in an obscured history of occasions when disrupted lives, through injury and illness, were presented as special cases for medical scrutiny and text book collection. The portraits enter a ‘shadow archive’ and float somewhere in the space between the objective and the aesthetic. Domestic and institutional discourses intersect in anonymous portraits of ‘dark celebrity’. Through a process of reworking with signs, symbols, stains and burnings, the images explore an ambiguous truth, a suggestion of untold personal narratives and identities.
- Memorial (1997)
An installation based on blood samples donated to the artist by HIV/AIDS positive artists in New York over a period of two years from 1994 to 1996. Each sample was photographed and the resulting saturated colour ‘portraits’ were set in resin on limestone slabs. All of those who contributed to this work had died by 1998. The work was first shown in St Mary’s Cathedral, Limerick, Ireland, in EV+A 1998.
- Travels in Amira (1993)
A city called Amira, a fictional locale that invokes a liberated postmodern muse of pilgrimages, and a guide who readily admits our intuitions and responses are suspect, arrived at through elusive imaginings, arbitrary meetings, and strange conjunctions. Amira seems to embrace all cultural contradictions, while we seek some certainty or clarity, however transient. We are asked to re-invent from Amiran clues who we are, where we come from, and where we find ourselves. Doubtless, wherever we journey, burdened with cameras and cases, we venture out, making incredible guesses about what seems artificial or authentic or baffling. Cibachrome Prints, 20 triptychs and wall texts.
- Photo Graphic Constructs (1990)
The images in Photo Graphic Constructs present a collage of different cultures, sexualities and conflicting histories. They invite the viewer into a new domain, one that we can recognise as Europe, but a Europe inflected by interaction with elements from outside. Symmetries turn out to be unbalanced and order harbours within itself a secret element of chaos. Strange correspondences suggest themselves: the matching of a Mediterranean beach and a cemetery; an umbrella and a palm tree; a newspaper kiosk as a public confessional? In this way, the artist provokes a playful, questioning approach to the visual, an approach that also remains open to the erotic and sexual aspects of visual forms.