Patricia Piccinini Interview: New Myths of Our Time



“It’s a world where everything is intermingled, where the boundaries are blurred, even collapsed in some places.” Experience Patricia Piccinini’s alluring yet disquieting futurist universe, inhabited by hybrid mythical creatures and mutated human beings. In this video, Piccinini – one of the most acclaimed Australian artists – reveals the thoughts behind her sculptural work, which is about relationships and how we treat others.

“Love is one of the things that can destroy boundaries.” Piccinini is interested in questioning why we need boundaries to separate us from others, and why we feel “so different and perhaps special, special enough that we might want to treat our environment and the other animals on the planet in the way we do.” She hopes that the viewer will experience a whole new emotion when they come to her exhibition ‘A World of Love’, and she argues that her work is ultimately about relationships – with the environment, other animals, and our bodies: “I try to give these relationships space, and so valorise them.” Piccinini also talks about how she considers science to be the ultimate way of understanding the world, and how it enables us to change the nature around us: “And our duty of care to the life we change around us… Will we just change nature to serve us? Or will we change nature for other reasons? What’s a good enough reason to change nature in the end?” Growing up with a sick mother, Piccinini feels that she understands what it’s like “to be at the mercy of science.” She thinks that this is part of the reason why she welcomes innovation in science, but at the same time, she is interested in “these very ethically oriented, very nuanced situations where there’s no right and wrong. And that’s why in my work, there is no answer.” Finally, Piccinini also reflects upon the big part maternal love plays in her work: “It’s just a very good example of how we can be with the world.”

Patricia Piccinini (b. 1965) is an Australian artist, who works in a variety of media, including painting, sculpture, video, sound, installation and digital prints. At the beginning of her career, she spent a lot of time in medical museums, making drawings of preserved specimens. These studies would later influence her work, particularly in sculpture. With the use of silicone, fibreglass, and human hair, Piccinini makes sculptures that appear familiar yet hyper-realistic, reminding us that though we can manipulate evolution and life to a degree, we’re still far from being in control. Piccinini’s work has been exhibited around the world, including the Berlin Biennale 2001, Art Gallery of Western Australia in Perth, The Montreal Museum of Fine Arts and Mori Art Museum in Tokyo. In 2003, she represented Australia at the 50th Venice Biennale. Since 2017, Piccinini has been a professor at the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne. She lives and works in Melbourne.

Patricia Piccinini was interviewed by Christian Lund at Arken Museum of Modern Art in Ishøj, Denmark in June 2019 in connection with the exhibition ‘Patricia Piccinini – A World of Love’.

Camera: Rasmus Quistgaard

Edited by: Rasmus Quistgaard

Produced by: Christian Lund

Cover photo: ‘The Long Awaited’ (2008) by Patricia Piccinini. Courtesy of the artist.

Copyright: Louisiana Channel, Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, 2019

Supported by Nordea-fonden

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