Patricia Piccinini’s Human Animals

The Young Family by Patricia Piccinini

A friend and I were deep in the tunnels of late-night Internet mining when he sent me a link to the image above. Accidental discovery! Ten minutes later we were scraping our jaws off the floor while perusing Patricia Piccinini’s website. “Young Family” is part of a series devoted to genetic engineering, tradition and our potential metamorphoses as result of rapid scientific and social change.

These creatures are designed by Patricia and created by teams of sculptors, painters and upholsterers.  Beyond the mind-boggling technical aspects of her mixed media installations, Piccinini focuses on questioning science, humanity’s fading sense of acceptable reality and the discrepancies between physical and emotional beauty. From the essay about this pieces:

The sculpture puts on public display all the physical attributes denied in the days of plastic surgery, airbrushes and full-body waxes – fat, wrinkles, moles hairs and bumps. Their owner has her hands and feet curled up on themselves and lies in a semi-fetal position of defense and vulnerability, suggesting a kind of withdrawal from this display. At the same time, her humane demeanor and maternal generosity make these fleshly imperfections [for that is how we are socialized to see them] seem less important than acceptance and inclusiveness. Piccinni calls her “beautiful”, saying “she is not threatening, but a face you could love, and a face inlove with her family.

For all its grotesqueness, this sculptural tableau focuses on the loving, nurturing relationship of mother and babies that is fundamental to life This unifying quality – emphasized by the kidney-shaped enclosure of the group as a family unit – is at odds with the composite heterogeneity of the creature.

What I thought to be concept art for the Dark Crystal Pt. 2 turned out to be touching social commentary. I do still enjoy these sculptures on a purely visual level and come back to Patricia’s website to study every pore, fold and mystery orifice. A few more below the jump.

The Long Awaited

Still Life With Stem Cells 2002 silicone, acrylic, human hair, clothing, carpet

Surrogate (for the Northern Hairynosed Wombat) 2005 Silicone, fibreglass, plywood, leather, fur

18 Responses to “Patricia Piccinini’s Human Animals”

  1. Alice Says:

    Ah! I remember finding this lady’s work a few years ago and really not knowing at all how to feel about it…honestly, I still don’t!

  2. gooby Says:

    Oh, god, I was at this show in NYC…

    I’d never felt such a confusing mix of amazement, attraction, awe, and absolute repulsion. The best one was the one that jumped off its stand and latched onto some patrons face.

    She’s an amazing talent, these pictures just don’t capture how real the skin looks in person, and I’m getting nauseas again just thinking about it all.

  3. Skerror Says:

    Her stuff…FREAKS ME THE FUCK OUT!!!

  4. electronic mily Says:

    Heh. I remember a while ago the first one was floating around as part of an obnoxious forward-this-message email that said something along the lines of “ZOMG genetic engineering! This is some kind of mutant!”

    Aha, snopes.

  5. saffrongraphics Says:

    The video “The Gathering” is utterly beautiful. Any comments others have on that one?

  6. drea Says:

    creepy but intriguing.

  7. Elana Bowman Says:

    me too! I think they are brilliant, frightening, beautiful, poetic, creepy, sad and I just don’t know what to think of it.

  8. Jerem Morrow Says:

    As Gooby put it: “I’d never felt such a confusing mix of amazement, attraction, awe, and absolute repulsion.

    These have had me all over the place, since I first happened upon them.

  9. Lydia Says:

    I want to see these in person *so much*. Wow. Wow.

  10. Zoetica Says:

    Saffrongraphics, I adore that video! The sound makes it even eerier. Lovely, yes!

  11. inachis_io Says:

    And this is precisely why I love this blog. Art like this is so gently arresting and will speak to so many. We’re so used to seeing the slick and the Photoshop; imagery that appeals to only a very mainstream audience. If Piccinini’s work can make a pleasant impression on just a few individuals from that audience, then there might still be hope. And thank you for bringing it to the attention of the not-particularly mainstream readers of Coilhouse, too!

  12. Sky Says:

    WOW! Reality is so much sexier than photoshop although it’s tough to discern between the two.

  13. rickie Says:

    that is amazing.

  14. Stephanie Says:

    This makes me extremely uncomfortable. Sooooo uncomfortable.

  15. Jessica Says:

    Ah yes, she is beyond amazing! I’ve never been close enough to smell the silicone…hopefully someday soon!

  16. LoFi Says:

    yep people are creative in all different forms

  17. gdvgd Says:

    this is horrible it is strange

  18. MelkorTheMalevolent Says:

    I was fine, up until I saw the “wombat”… thing.

    It took a moment for my brain to register what I was seeing here, but when it all clicked, I actually screamed in a mix of horror and revulsion.

    Good thing my roommate’s out.