‘“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”
“What is essential is invisible to the eye,” the little prince repeated, so that he would be sure to remember.’
― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince, 1943
Patricia Piccinini places empathy at the heart of her practice. In The Long Awaited, the boy is not only comforting the creature but drawing comfort: as the artist observes -‘he’s nurturing her as much as she’s being nurtured.’ The tenderness of the moment dominates. It is a work that attests to philosopher Arne Naess’ observation: ‘We cannot help but identify ourselves with all living beings, beautiful or ugly, big or small, sentient or not.’
In her video work, The Gathering, Piccinini reflects on how accustomed we are ‘to seeing everything from our perspective.’ Are the creatures threatening or curious? And why does one reveal its pouch of children? The sense of unease never dissipates emphasising our lack of understanding and the possibility that the girl is asleep in their world.
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.