Constructed from silicone and fiberglass, these hybrid sculptures investigate the potential rise of new and troubling developments through the advance of biotechnology and genetic manipulation.
Exploring concepts of what is 'natural' in the digital age, Patricia Piccinini brings a deeply personal perspective to her work. Patricia Piccinini is one of Australia’s most acclaimed contemporary artists whose startling sculptures examine the connections between science and nature, art and the environment. Audiences are drawn to Piccinini’s hyper-realist sculptures because they appear so real, yet they are creatures of the artist’s imagination developed to consider a strange new world of artificial or mutant beings derived from experimental biotechnology. From the mapping of the human genome to the growth of human tissue and organs from stem cells, Piccinini’s art charts a terrain in which scientific progress and ethical questions are intertwined.
Created using a combination of materials such as silicone, fibreglass and human hair, Piccinini’s sculptures are familiar yet fantastical in their depiction of possible future species and their interaction with human beings. Often confronting yet endearingly vulnerable, her sculptures give form to her fascination with the relationship between the ‘natural’ and the ‘artificial’ while asserting the power of social relationships, love and communication. Piccinini’s work is fundamentally about the human condition, despite the quasi-human appearance of her sculptures. The artist sees them as ‘beautiful rather than grotesque, miraculous rather than freakish. Both impressive and disconcerting, these sculptures intimate that humans can manipulate but not control life or evolution.
Entitled Kindred, the project takes its name from the title of the spectacular sculpture on display within Gallery 10. Here the artist's characteristic employment and fusion of human and animal traits within her work is embodied: An orangutan-like mother gently holds her two babies. Forms are fluid here, as Piccinini probes the boundaries demarking artificial from natural, human from the posthuman. She leaves viewers with no easy answers, suggesting the borders are unstable, mutable and in flux, thus encouraging further investigation from her audience. With this universal embrace and maternal scene, Kindred is emblematic of Piccinini's interest in creating empathy in the audience.
Artist quote: "The idea that we as humans are uniquely and fundamentally different from other animals is a cornerstone of how humans have traditionally seen ourselves. It is this specialness that allows us to exploit the environment and other beings around us so completely. However, both genetic analysis and observation is now showing how small that difference really is. We see common DNA everywhere and common behaviours in many other animals, especially in primates. Like us, orangutan mothers keep their children close and educate them over many years. If I want my children to eat vegetables, I just tell them I am their orangutan mother. In this work, we see three unique individuals each set at a different point on a continuum of greater or less animalness. However, the point is not their difference, it is their connection.”
About the Artist:
Born 1965 in Freetown, Sierra Leone, Piccinini was selected to represent Australia at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003. She has received the following awards: Lifetime Achievement Award, Melbourne Art Foundation (2014), New York Residency, Australia Council (2006), New York Residency, Australia Council (2006), New York Residency, Australia Council (2006), International Cultural Exchange Program, Arts Victoria (2002), New Media Fellowship, Australia Council (2002), Arts Development grant, Arts Victoria (1999), Tokyo Residency, Australia Council (1998).
Selected solo exhibitions include: A Miracle Constantly Repeated, Rising Festival, Melbourne, Australia (2021); Patricia Piccinini: Embracing the Future, Kunsthalle Krems, Austria (2021), Patricia Piccinini: The Instruments of Life, Kai Art Gallery, Tallinn, Estonia (2021), Between the Shadow and the Soul, Helsinki Taidehalli, Helsinki, Finland (2020), Omfamna Frantiden, Børas Museum of Art, Børas, Sweden (2020), A World of Love, Arken Museum, Copenhagen, Denmark (2019), Curious Affection, Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia (2018), Patricia Piccinini, Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco, USA (2018), Conscienceness, Kibla Portal, Kibla, Slovenia (2017), ComSciencia, CCBB Brasilia, Brasilia, Brazil (2016), Patricia Piccinini, Yu-Hsiu Museum of Art, Caotun, Taiwan (2016), Like Us, Newcastle Art Gallery, Newcastle (2015), Piccinini at Hosfelt, Artinternational, Istanbul, Turkey (2015), ComSciencia, CCBB Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (2015), Another Life, University of Quebec Art Museum, Montreal, Canada Relativity, Galway International Arts Festival Gallery, Galway, Ireland (2015), The Touch of Another, Warrnambool Art Gallery, Warrnambool (2014), Structures of Support, Canberra Museum and Gallery, Canberra (2013), Hold me Close to your Heart, Arter Space for Art, Istanbul (2011), Once Upon a Time…, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide (2011), Not as we know it, Haunch of Venison, New York (2010), Relativity, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Perth (2010), Patricia Piccinini, Leeahn Gallery, Daegu and Seoul (2010), Recent Work, Byblos Art Gallery, Verona, Italy (2009), The Place Where It Actually Happens, Yvon Lambert, New York (2008), Piccinini, Perc Tucker Regional Gallery, Townsville (2008), (tiernas) Criaturas/(tender) Creatures, Artium, Vitoria-Gasteiz (2007), Hug: Recent Works by Patricia Piccinini, Frye Museum, Seattle; Des Moines Art Center, (2007), Des Moines Double Love Knot, Lismore Regional Gallery, Lismore (2007), In Another Life, Wellington City Gallery, Wellington (2006) Unbreaking Eggs, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, Nature's Little Helpers, Robert Miller Gallery, New York (2005), We are Family, toured to Bendigo Art Gallery, Bendigo (2004), We are Family, Australian Pavilion, 50th Venice Biennale, Venice (2003), We are Family, toured to Hara Museum, Tokyo (2003), Love Me Love My Lump, Monash Centre and Dryphoto Gallery, Prato (2003), Call of the Wild, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (2002), The Breathing Room, The Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo (2001), Superevolution, Centro de Artes Visuales, Lima (2001), Swell, Artspace, Sydney, Australia (2000), Plasticology, NTT InterCommunication Centre, Tokyo (1999).
Selected Public Collections include: National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington DC, USA, Thomas Olbricht Collection, Berlin, Germany, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, Australia, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia, Queensland Art Gallery, Brisbane, Australia, Art Gallery of South Australia, Adelaide, Australia, Monash University, Victoria, Australia, Newcastle Regional Art Gallery, New South Wales, Australia.
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