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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

Bedroom, 10.30 pm (from 'The Fitzroy Series'), 2011 by Patricia Piccinini
Bedroom, 10.30 pm (from 'The Fitzroy Series'), 2011 by Patricia Piccinini

‘But they don’t go away. They stand, they stare … Mostly they want to look at him because he is so unlike them.’

Margaret Atwood, Oryx and Crake (London: Bloomsbury) 2003

Patricia Piccinini’s photographic series SO2 and The Fitzroy Series explore human acceptance of difference – applied empathy – through children’s interactions with trans-species creatures. Piccinini created the siren mole ‘SO2’ as a fictional successor to the world’s first synthetic micro-organism made from inorganic chemicals – labelled ‘SO1’. The other photographic series - The Fitzroy Series features The Bottom Feeder – a creature specifically designed to eat rubbish. Piccinini works where diverse, potentially irreconcilable, elements of our humanness collide:

‘The world I create exists somewhere between the one we know and one that is almost upon us … My creatures, while strange and unsettling, are not threatening. Instead, it is their vulnerability that often most comes to the fore. They plead with us to look beyond their unfamiliarity, and ask us to accept them. It is surprising how quickly we grow used to them…’

5 portraits

1 Alley, 11.15 am (from 'The Fitzroy Series'), 2011. 2 Workshop, 7.00 pm (from 'The Fitzroy Series'), 2011. 3 Last day of the holidays (from 'The SO2 series’), 2000. 4 Social Studies (from ‘The SO2 series’), 2000. All by Patricia Piccinini.

Related information

Divide, 2011 by Sam Jinks
Divide, 2011 by Sam Jinks
Divide, 2011 by Sam Jinks
Divide, 2011 by Sam Jinks

In the flesh

Previous exhibition, 2014

In the flesh is an enthralling and immersive experience of contemporary art that confronts the concept of humanness and the experiences of consciousness and emotion. Featuring ten Australian artists including Jan Nelson, Patricia Piccinini, Ron Mueck and Michael Peck, the exhibition explores themes of intimacy, empathy, transience, transition, vulnerability, alienation, restlessness, reflection, mortality and acceptance.

The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance
The National Portrait Gallery building front entrance

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders past and present. We respectfully advise that this site includes works by, images of, names of, voices of and references to deceased people.

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