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Art What!: Patricia Piccinini – We Are Connected at ArtScience Museum

ArtScience Museum presents one of its most evocative exhibitions to date – from 5th August, Patricia Piccinini: We Are Connected will draw visitors into a strange and wondrous reality where animal-human hybrids exist. Staged in collaboration with the Institute for Culture Exchange, Germany, this exhibition brings together more than 40 important artworks, making this Patricia Piccinini’s first major solo showcase in Southeast Asia.

Regarded as one of the world’s leading contemporary artists, Patricia Piccinini has spent the last three decades exploring the evolving relationship between humans and nature, especially in the face of biotechnology advances such as genetic engineering. She represented Australia at the Venice Biennale in 2003 and has had major solo shows around the world. Her menagerie of strange yet alluring sculptures embrace the possibilities of ever-changing human bodies and lifeforms that straddle the artificial and natural, emerging from today’s technological age. Her creatures reveal a strong sense of vulnerability and tenderness that evoke empathy, encouraging visitors to reconsider how they relate to others, as well as contemplate kinship and beauty through a different perspective when confronted with the unfamiliar.

Patricia Piccinini, The Coup, 2012. © Patricia Piccinini. Courtesy of the artist and the Institute for Cultural Exchange

“Patricia Piccinini is one of the most important figures working at the intersection of art and science today, and we are thrilled to be opening this major show of her work at ArtScience Museum,” said Honor Harger, Vice President of ArtScience Museum and Attractions at Marina Bay Sands. “For over 30 years, Piccinini’s hyperreal sculptures of hybrid creatures have challenged conventional concepts of beauty, perfection, and the ideal body. Her work imagines a different relationship between people and nature, one that is more equitable and shared in outlook.”

Patricia Piccinini, The Builder, 2018. © Patricia Piccinini. Courtesy of the artist and the Institute for Cultural Exchange

“Piccinini depicts possible evolutionary leaps and unusual mutations in fiberglass and silicone. Her installations provide us with space to explore anxieties and hopes related to new scientific advances such as genetic engineering and cloning, as well as our interconnected relationship with all living creatures,” Honor continues. “Patricia Piccinini: We Are Connected is an exhibition of questions, not answers. It does not tell us what to think, but instead asks how we feel. It invites children as well as adults to encounter Piccinini’s tender and surreal creatures, and ponder the possibilities of a future in a diverse world that embraces difference.”

Patricia Piccinini, Prone (detail), 2011. © Patricia Piccinini. Courtesy of the artist and the Institute for Cultural Exchange

“Much of my work is focused on imagining a sort of artificial nature. However, I am also interested in thinking about naturalised technology. For many of us, technology is a natural part of everyday life. I am not condemning this. I don’t think it’s that useful to imagine a return to a pre-industrial past. Instead, I’m interested in how we might use the possibilities of our particular hybrid world to create a future that will be better for all of us – including other species rather than at their expense. This will necessarily include technology. We cannot remove technology from humans any more than we can take hives from bees or nests from birds or tools from orangutans,” says Piccinini.

Patricia Piccinini, The Couple (detail), 2018. © Patricia Piccinini. Courtesy of the artist and the Institute for Cultural Exchange

The exhibition features works by Patricia Piccinini from the early 2000s through to 2021 and is divided into six main sections presenting a variety of sculptures, installations, videos and collages. One of the artworks included in the exhibition: The Young Family (2003), was featured in her show at the Australian Pavilion during the 50th Venice Biennale. Several of the artworks in the exhibition emphasise the bioethical challenges associated with humankind’s manipulation of nature, highlighting relevant issues such as existence, climate change and technology. The show explores Piccinini’s use of silicone, fibre glass, resin, and unorthodox components like human hair, all woven together to create her hyper-realistic creations.

Patricia Piccinini, The Comforter (detail), 2010. © Patricia Piccinini. Courtesy of the artist and the Institute for Cultural Exchange, Photo: Christian Redtenbacher

Despite appearing unsettling and alien, the sculptures in the exhibition have a surprising warmth. Piccinini’s artworks are juxtaposed in unusual ways, creating intimate narratives depicting her hybrid creatures interacting in loving and empathic ways. By confronting issues such as DNA editing, cloning, interspecies connections, scientific intervention, evolution, and their roles in our present and future, messages of empathy and care are communicated for not only the creatures and plants that we share this earth with, but also those yet to come.

Patricia Piccinini: We Are Connected runs from 5th August 2022 to 29th January 2023 at the ArtScience Museum. Tickets and more information available here

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