24 Jan 1946 -
Christine Cornish’s photography is typified by her cool restraint and considered approach. Looking at her series ‘Threshold’, one can almost feel the cold steel of the veterinarian’s examination table as the artist re-presents a long litany of animal body parts, in ethereal X-ray format, white bones luminescent against rich deep black ground. Mounted flat on aluminium, feeling is enhanced and the delicate forms, slender bones, tiny paws, cat craniums, slim limbs, ribs, spines, pelvis, wings delicately extended and exposed rise up to meet us. Small creatures made larger than life. Interior structures brought into the light.
The photographic series does indeed depend upon X-rays sourced from veterinarian clinics, with the images selected by the artist based on their ability to ‘be translated to suggest mystery and beauty. I use animal X-rays as a medium for exploring the physical and the metaphysical, and the idea of an invisible interior’ she explained in her 2004 rationale for the series. Cornish does change the original X-rays in various subtle ways.
Research by the artist into the work of Korean avant-garde painter Park Seo Bo (active during the 1950s-60s), was highly influential in the development of ‘Threshold’. In Park’s work Cornish recognised shared visual and philosophical qualities, and was struck by the luminosity Park embedded into his paintings, achieved through structured semi-transparent layers. Cornish also appears to have taken cues from Park’s paintings that give expression to the anguish of survivors of the Korean war (‘the shout of the silent’) which she links with German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s ideas on the interdependency of absence and presence. The unknown circumstances of the X-rayed animals in Threshold keep them hovering in our imagination between life and death, between living structures and sceptres of death, corporeal and unreal, turned inside out.
10 pigment prints mounted on aluminium
10 photographs: each 99.5 x 78.5 cm image/sheet
Signature & date
Signed and dated label verso each work, black ink "2004/ Christine Cornish".
Gift of the artist 2009
Not on display
Shown in 1 exhibition
Christine Cornish: Threshold, Stills Gallery, Paddington, 08 Sep 2004–09 Oct 2004