The Stags 2008

Sculpture of two mutated motor scooters presented as living creatures, sparring like male deer in the wild.
Patricia Piccinini, The Stags, 2008; Gift of Heather and Tony Podesta Collection, Washington, D.C.

Patricia Piccinini’s witty sculpture The Stags presents two mutated motor scooters as living creatures, sparring like male deer in the wild. The scooters’ multiple rear view mirrors appear like entangled antlers, and one motorbike presses its front tire on the “haunch” of the other in a gesture of play or dominance.

The deeper-colored scooter, with its handlebars in a downturned position, evinces a more docile disposition, while the forward-pointing handles and larger array of mirrors on the golden-hued bike suggest an aggressive stance. The scooters’ lifelike interaction contrasts with their sleek forms built from high-tech fiberglass and cast steel.

Piccinini’s futuristic art frequently centers on bioengineering and questions what the outcome might be as humanity and technology become more entwined. A synthesis of nature and technology, the creatures represented in this work are evidently beyond human control.

“Technology has become increasingly natural to us,” Piccinini observes, “and it’s this contemporary condition that has allowed me to imagine a lifecycle for machines which is closer to animals than it is to something more artificial.”

National Museum of Women in the Arts