This limited-edition photogravure and letterpress book presents a collection of seemingly disparate portraits which have evolved from my fascination with the expressive nature of the gaze, especially as created by a sculptor or taxidermist. When we lock eyes with the three-dimensional representation of another sentient being, we are forced to acknowledge that they seem to regard us as well. We briefly consider that they are aware, recognizing our presence. What do we, as viewers or participants, gain from this brief experience? Is the gaze serene, loving, accusatory or menacing? Do we meet another’s eyes with fear, hostility, or shared emotions? The inanimate is given life via the inner connection which we discover when we forced to consider their viewpoint. It is not always comfortable, poetic, nor loving. We usually bring our own paranoia, guilt and longing into play and then respond to that.
Within Gaze, some of the expressions hint at serenity, or even vacuity, while others seem surprised, suspicious or confrontational. Are we facing accusations of neglect, abuse of resources, or subjugation of the weak? The book form controls the sequence and juxtaposition of images and also the pace in which they are viewed. This, combined with the intimacy of scale, has an impact in a way that wall work cannot. The book form provides a one-on-one exchange by way of a simple gaze.
Artist’s statement – My photographic exploration of animal taxidermy has evolved from the examination of individual specimens (as portraits) to the discovery or placement of animals in unusual contexts. Although taxidermy is still in the forefront, the relationship between the animal and its environment plays a greater role, thus adding a level of mysterious narrative to each situation. The photogravure process transforms this photographic information to image-as-object and creates a dissonance far more pronounced than the artificiality of the taxidermy alone.
The rich beauty of the historical photogravure process represents most of my other work and is a jumping off point for my book works, artistamps and many mixed media potentialities.
David Morrish—Retired Full Professor of Art, lives in Prince Edward County, Ontario and co-author with Marlene MacCallum of Copper Plate Photogravure, Focal Press, 2003. Morrish has exhibited traditional copper-plate photogravure prints since 1996, nationally and internationally: Japan, Taiwan, China, S. Korea, Thailand, Sweden, Ireland, USA, England, Italy, and Canada. His artist’s book-works, GAZE and DIED use copper-plate photogravure and letterpress under his imprint: DeadCat Press. DIED includes a rare four-plate CMYK color copper-plate photogravure. Recent research explores animal and human mortality, faux biography, provenance, collections, and the museum archive through the construction of an immersive Wunderkammer, The Lyric Cranium.