Detail of Civilization by John Greer
Detail of Civilization by John Greer

Civilization, 1990 - 1991

Italian Marble;

Femur 205 x 73 x 50 cm (81 x 29 x 20 inches),

Jaw 111 x 66 x 35 cm (44 x 26 x 14 inches),

Scull cap 152 x 109 x 66 cm (60 x 43 x 26 inches),

Thumb bones 50 x 25 x 15 cm (20 x 10 x 6 inches),

35 x 27 x 15 cm (14 x 11 x 6 inches),

25 x 17 x 12 cm (10 x 7 x 5 inches),

Rib 203 x 27 x 20 cm (80 x 11 x 8 inches),

5 small parts in various sizes


The image is of fragments of human bones, seemingly scattered (arranged) on ground level - 12 fragments in total (beginning weight approximately 7 tons, of Carrara marble), 5 pieces reminiscent of bone chips and 7 specific and recognizable as the brain case/skull cap (Mentality), the top half of the femur (Upright Mobility), the last or bottom floating rib (Breath or Spirit), one half of the jaw (Verbal Communication), and the three sections of the thumb (Dexterity or Industry). These are very obviously human-made in human image and not meant to be understood as gigantic human bones. The field of experience in this work is important, as it is in Reconciliation 1989 and Nine Grains of Rice, 1990.

The psychological authority of scale is also of fundamental importance in this work, where the familiar image scale is changed, and yet the familiar relationship with objects is maintained within the experienced field. The relationship with the thigh bone, for instance, is like that with a fallen tree trunk on which one could sit.

The piece is about history and the passage of time.


Please see also: 

Civilization at the Confederation Centre Art Gallery and Museum, Charlottetown, PEI, Canada

more text in regard to this work is in Art Up On Life / The world in us

Text in Deutscher Sprache zu dieser Arbeit finden sie in Kunst Auf Ueber Leben / Die Welt in uns


Below are detail shots of the work Civilization in the warehouse. Please click on any image to enlarge and/ or start the slide show. 


You can contact me directly here:

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Installation View retroActive with Threshold, 2015; Civilization, 1990/91; PaperMoney, 2012
Wait of Water by John Greer, 2014 Bay of Fundy Detail of Wait of Water, October 9th, 2014; retroActive tied up, tide down, looking back across the bay where the piece was first realized in 1972
National Gallery of Canada : THE PROUST QUESTIONNAIRE
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