‘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…’
In the flesh
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.