Patricia Piccinini in ARKEN

Patricia Piccinini, A World of Love in ARKEN.

Often in her interviews the artist is underlying the purpose of her art as being a carrier of message. The way she describes her work tells us little about the aesthetics or the composition of her creations. Her descriptions are mostly concerned around the feeling that it transcribes, the metaphors and the symbolism.

Piccinini is an artist majorly categorized as a being active in a bioart current understood as art which is addressing a controversy or blind spot posed by the very character of the life sciences themselves[1] .Her grotesque hyperrealist sculptures have an undeniable charm, perfectly expressing emotions of empathy, vulnerability, innocence or symbolism of fertility, vitality and strength.

Following Rosi Braidotti’s The Posthuman fantasy artist explores the boundaries of humane[2]. Inviting the spectator into a surrealist magical realm where human, animal, technological is intertwined in bodies of chimeras.

The Loving World exhibition in ARKEN is a debut of the Australian artist in Scandinavia. Her exhibition opens with a 2016 sculpture called The Bond which depicts a whole-body representation of a women holding a midsized creature in her arms. The woman is cradling the creature with affection pressing her cheek to its head. The creature’s boy-like face is expressing a mix of fright and innocent ignorance. The Bond between these two isn’t a mother’s and a child’s but of two beings in needing each other, the work is easily planting question’s in the viewer’s mind. What is the nature of this relationship, is their bond real or is the woman one using the creature for any sort of psychological comfort?

These are the question that follow the viewers as he/she proceeds through the exhibition. The question about “the other”. And the relationship between “us” and “the other”. Piccinini lets us sneak into a science-fiction vision of reality where human hybrids are a part of every person’s life. In Undivided a small boy being comforted at sleep by a creature which looks like hybrid of a wombat and an armadillo covered in human skin. Somewhere else we stumble upon The Young Family.  A cross between pig and human is feeding her small children. She is laying on a laboratory bed gazing at us with a look of deep melancholy. She is aware of the exploitation she is an object of. The creature symbolizes reproduction – whether its organ breeding or being a fertile female capable of giving birth. The passive undignified reproduction.

Piccinini’s work could be read as a pamphlet discussing world as a place completely dominated by the most dangerous predators – humans. Piccinini juxtaposes innocent figures of human chimeras with affection seeking humans. In the world created by the artist it seems that everything is defined by its function and purpose. Australia’s native shows us the possible future scenario where people starved by feeling of desolation look for tenderness in the arms of their newest invention.

One of the messages carried by her sculptures is focused around instrumental treatment of all beings. Chimeras represent beings that are excluded from the “conversation” about where are we heading as a species and how are we treating our common habitat. Piccinini tries to put the viewer in a position of an impartial visitor who can witness the very real scenarios of “inhumane” treatment.

Science-fiction was always a tool of showcasing problems of contemporary times. We are living in times where our basic habits are shaped by our constant connection with electronic devices. We often feel pushed and made to feel guilty for not consuming enough, for not being successful enough, the pressure of this global procedure often logically radicalizes young people. The constant feeling of hopelessness and uselessness pushes us further away from possibilities of loving and accepting. Piccinini gives us a glimpse into an essential driving force of life, need for intimacy and communication represented by the ubiquitous affection, mixed with human’s ill need for control over every aspect of reality represented by the existence of these beautiful hybrids.

The artist presents a promise of realization of often cited term of Anthropocene. Showcases the omnipresence of human genes implanted in other beings. Through illustration of the tight grasp that human organization has on these newly bred creatures, she also enables us to see how elusive the nature of life is. In the eyes of each of her sculptures we can see the nascent of subjectivity. She confronts us with a question of the character of Anthropocene, and in what form would the Anthropos survive until the end of it’s era.

 

 


[1] Claire Pentecost, http://www.lateralmag.com/articles/issue-2/reframing-biology-how-bioart-takes-science-public, September 17, 2015.

[2] Rosi Braidotti, The Posthuman, Cambridge ,2013.