Kirk Palmer’s work explores the existential nature of human relationships with the world through an exploration of the temporal landscape and sense of place using still and moving images.
In 2005, Palmer began August Shadows, a trilogy of moving image works – Murmur (2006), Hiroshima (2007) and War’s End: An Island of Remembrance (2012) – as well as photographic works, including the recent series A Surrounding Trace (2013) and Precious Fragments (2014) exhibited here. Centred upon Hiroshima, Nagasaki, and Yakushima, all these works examine how historical events manifest in the present-day physical substance of place, where the pall of the atomic bombings remains a latent, unifying presence.
Palmer has returned to Hiroshima and/or Nagasaki each August as part of an evolving, personal engagement with the people and landscapes of these places devastated by the atomic bombings of World War II. These historical events are irresolvable, unfathomable, beyond comprehension, but it is exactly because of this that Palmer has pursued the awful legacies of nuclear war and its ongoing effects. Consequently, his moving and still image work eschews gratuitous imagery of the war and its after-effects in favour of nuance, not to assuage the horrors but to encourage a contemplative and reflective response from the viewer to the atomic bombing of Japan.
All his work on the subject of the atomic bombings can be understood as an attempt to ‘reach’ those particular places in time, because as the survivors grow more elderly and frail it is ever more pressing that we do not forget.