Known for her imaginative, yet strangely familiar, hybrid creatures, Patricia Piccinini uses sculpture, installation, and sound in her fantastical diorama to realise a compassionate vision inspired by science, and mythology.
As you wander through ‘Curious Affection’ you can hear Francois Tetaz’s wistful and wondrous soundscape before entering Piccinini’s The peace between lightning and thunder – an unexpected artificial space that has nature as its core.
Filled with chimeras, creatures composed of two genetically distinct types of cells, we wonder about this natural environment and reflect on these hybrid unnatural creations. Piccinini’s question is: What ultimately is our responsibility to the life that we change, shape and create?
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In Greek mythology, the Chimera was an awesome fire-breathing monster with the head of a lion, the body of a goat, and the tail of a serpent. In more recent times we can reflect on the legacy of Mary Shelley’s masterwork Frankenstein, published in 1818, often compared to Piccinini’s art, particularly in their creators’ attitudes to scientific curiosity.
Piccinini accepts the role of science and regards such tinkering, even with the very substance of life, as inevitable. In Shelley’s example, Dr Victor Frankenstein neglects his duty to care for his progeny and this is the root of the monster’s tragedy. Without family or friend, the monster is hunted into the shadows and only commits murder in response to his cruel circumstances.
Piccinini’s creation The couple is the exact opposite, an anti-Frankenstein story. Her monster has a mate – Frankenstein didn’t give one to his offspring and that was the problem – the couple may be the only two creatures of their kind, but they have each other, their destiny is within their hands. We might feel we have control, we might only in the moment.
Patricia Piccinini reflects on ‘The Couple’
Feature image detail: Patricia Piccinini’s The peace between lightning and thunder 2018 installed at GOMA