Urgent Museum Notice

Image for Humanly Possible: Patricia Piccinini

Humanly Possible: Patricia Piccinini

Blog Category:  NMWA Exhibitions

In celebration of NMWA’s 30th anniversary, and inspired by the museum’s focus on contemporary women artists as catalysts for change, Revival illuminates how women working in sculpture, photography, and video use spectacle and scale for expressive effect.

Installation view of Patricia Piccinini’s The Young Family; © Yassine El Mansouri

Patricia Piccinini (b. 1965, Freetown, Sierra Leone)
Patricia Piccinini lives and works in Melbourne, Australia. She earned a degree in Economic History before studying painting at the Victorian College of the Arts. In 2016, she received a doctorate in Visual and Performing Arts from the University of Melbourne, where she currently teaches. Piccinini’s work primarily explores the relationships between the natural and constructed worlds, creating hybrid creatures and machines that are simultaneously beautiful and grotesque. Focusing on ideas rather than methods, Piccinini translates her thoughts through a variety of media, including drawing, painting, sculpture, video, sound, installation, and digital prints.
The Artist’s Voice:
“My work aims to shift the way that people look at the world around them, and question their assumptions about the relationships they have with the world. I am especially interested in things that fall outside of our traditional ideas of normal or beautiful, or that step across the boundaries that we erect between things. How does contemporary technology and culture change our understanding of what it means to be human? What is our relationship with—and responsibilities towards—that which we create?”—Patricia Piccinini, in an interview with The Condition Report
“My work is all imagined. It’s all imagined in a place that is not far ahead of the space we live in now. I often think it’s about the world we live in actually. . . . But sometimes people think that I’ve got the solutions to what’s going to happen in the future and that in fact my work is a sort of precautionary tale or something of that nature, when in fact I really don’t have the answers.”—Patricia Piccinini, in a video interview with Centenary of Canberra

Patricia Piccinini, The Young Family, 2002; Silicone, acrylic, human hair, leather, and wood, 36 x 65 x 50 in.; NMWA, Gift of The Heather and Tony Podesta Collection; © Patricia Piccinini

Revival Highlight:
Piccinini’s The Young Family (2002) depicts transgenic beings—organisms into which genetic material from an unrelated organism has been artificially introduced. The artist collaborates with specialists from various fields of contemporary industrial manufacture to make her ideas a reality. Constructed using silicone, acrylic, human hair, leather, and wood, the sculpture shares human and animal features, eliciting both disgust and empathy from the viewer. Piccinini’s imagining of these hybrid creatures takes the form of a mother figure nursing her young. The central creature seems to have a familiar, maternal gaze, but also appears to have much more alien physiognomy. This unsettling juxtaposition sparks conversation about society’s preparedness for the ethical and emotional results of genetic manipulations.
Visit the museum and explore Revival, on view through September 10, 2017.

Related Posts

  • Women to Watch 2020: Angela Glajcar

    Posted: Nov 25, 2020 in Artist Spotlight
    Learn about German artist Angela Glajcar's process and work, which is featured in Paper Routes, the latest installment of NMWA's Women to Watch exhibition series.
    Panels of white paper hung together to look like a long rectangular box suspended from the ceiling a few feet off the ground. Roughly torn holes in the middle of the sheets create a tunnel-like space.
    Blog Category:  Artist Spotlight
  • Director’s Desk: A Recipe for Deeper Connections

    Posted: Nov 23, 2020 in Director's Desk
    This holiday season, when many families will not gather in person during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, NMWA's new online exhibition RECLAMATION offers us a way to honor and share our food traditions from afar.
    An antique sepia photo portrait of a light-skinned woman with brown hair staring longingly at the camera.
    Blog Category:  Director's Desk
  • Art Fix Friday: November 20, 2020

    Posted: Nov 20, 2020 in Art Fix Friday
    Celebrating pioneering photographer Ming Smith; Anonymous Was a Woman announces 2020 grant recipients; Jordan Casteel's new portrait of Barack Obama; and more.
    A black-and-white photograph of a light-skinned adult woman holding a newspaper with news about World War II. She wears a coat and her short, curly hair is caught in the wind.
    Blog Category:  Art Fix Friday