Greg Elms / What Remains / November 06 – 23 2013
As a child I lived in the country town of Echuca and often spent time on a nearby farm. It was here I witnessed my first decapitation of a sheep by a farmer who slit the animal’s throat with a huge knife, bracing the bleating beast whilst its blood gushed onto the ground. It was a viscerally repulsive but fascinating moment, watching life ebb swiftly away. What happened to that life I wondered? Did some of it stay with the body? What Remains is on one level an investigation of this question. Using the skeletal remains of various animals, it asks: is there a latent life force still present after death?
The work also highlights our relationship with mortality. Are we reviled by the insinuation of our own demise or fascinated by its mystique? Or both? Revisiting the tradition of memento mori in art, the gothic nature of skulls is emphasised in the work by the peculiar light of a flat bed film scanner, used to document each object. Although it functions as a simple lens-less camera, the scanner is nonetheless capable of great detail. Thus the sculptural beauty of the skulls is emphasised as a counterpoint to their ghoulish nature. This duality a reference to the Romantic movement, and the forensic clarity mirroring the scientific classification of the Enlightenment era.
For twenty years Greg Elms has investigated the nature of representation by reducing, contorting and exploring photography’s documentary essence. His output has ranged from photograms, painted photographs, photo realist painting, and most recently, lens-less photography.
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