Story of a Maker


Patricia Piccinini Writing Competition

I thought I was too old to go through all the trouble. I didn’t really believe that changes would affect me anyway. At that age, with that and skin, it is not all that easy to grow different over night. It so happened that I was developing a drinking habit for a while, and counted on it to keep me safe from doubting and questioning the new emerging order.

Back then, there was quite a fuss and buzz over the unexpected rate at which tails were growing. They tried to play it down for a while, but more and more wharfies and factory workers couldn’t keep their balance and do their jobs anymore. Production stopped, roads got blocked, there were fires and floods everywhere. It was all over the news. And God! All those talk shows! They wouldn’t have doctors on, it was a bit too late for that, but aestheticians and physiologists and New-Wave gurus preaching how to adjust to daily life and reach fulfillment with tailed-bodies.

I thought I’d be safe still. More and more often, I had these lower-back pains and tension; as it were just about to crack open an egg. Some little tail was probably emerging. All fine by me. I never expected to be completely unaffected either. Not growing a tail at all, it would have raised suspicion. Having an atrophic one was more wary.

Still, an Envoyée knocked my door one day, identifying me as a person of interest to the Department. I was kindly asked to join the Department’s research efforts to support the full transitioning towards new bodies. I knew then the tail-growing was only the beginning. The Envoyée did not see any point in denying it. As a matter of fact, he implied that the project would comprise both the replacement of malfunctioning body parts with organically grown new ones, and the assisted assimilation of factory-designed elements. ‘It is the Department’s highest priority to create the new un-ageing body. Regardless of any potential cutbacks in what it concerns the body shapes that we all became overly accustomed with and unseemly fond of by now,’ he winked at me.

‘But I’m too old for this’, I protested to the prosthetic hand already filling in the forms. ‘What is old?’ an asexualized voice talked back. ‘Our new emerging order does not provide anymore for such concept.’ ‘It is not that I am not grateful for this opportunity, which I fully am’, I tried one more time, ‘but perhaps a younger one – I stuttered realising I shouldn’t have used the word, a person with less experience than me, I mean, would benefit more from it.’

‘But everyone will eventually benefit from it’ the voice reassured me. ‘Your experience as technician is of high interest to us at this level. It is the creature modeling work experience that recommends you for the position’.

It was only then when I remembered. I remembered you and your rose garden, I remembered how I was the first to grow a tail and how you taught me to hide it by wrapping it all around my body. I remembered how you were carrying with you a little needle and thread to help us, to fix us and a little notebook to draw each time you couldn’t help us, you couldn’t fix us.

I remembered how my tail grew bigger and bigger, how heavier, how fleshier. How it was more and more difficult breathing. How it ultimately suffocated me. You were already gone by then. Your roses withered. You would have never borne to seeing me dying. But I still had your little notebook. I followed your sketches. Slowly, painfully, I began re-making myself.

Patricia Piccinini reflects on ‘The Bond’

Patricia Piccinini, Australia b.1965 / The Bond 2016 / Silicone, fibreglass, hair, clothing; ed. 2/3 + 1 AP / 162 x 56 x 50cm / Courtesy: The artist; Tolarno Galleries, Melbourne; Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney; and Hosfelt Gallery, San Francisco / © The artist

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Crisia Miroiu is joint winner of ‘Patricia Piccinini: Curious Affection’ Emerging Creatives Writing Competition. Propositions on Imagined Futures: How can art and science be used to imagine a shared future.

Feature image: Patricia Piccinini’s The Bond 2016, installed in ‘Curious Affection’, GOMA 2018