Patricia Piccinini was born in Sierra Leone and lives in Australia. Her work encompasses sculpture, photography, video and drawing. Her practice explores the intersection between nature and the artificial as it appears in contemporary culture and ideas. Her hybrid animals and vehicular creatures question what it means to be human and wonders at our relationships with—and responsibilities towards—that which we create.
Feminist Artist Statement
It seems strange, perhaps even anachronistic, to be asked to write a Feminist Statement, but I guess that is why it is important to do so. It was not so long ago that such statements were a vital part of the process that has allowed me to have the opportunities that I have to live the kind of life that I do. My mother, as a working class Irish woman growing up in Liverpool, did not have the options that I have. It is with the assumption of feminism – with a small f – that I am able to work as an artist, have a family and have a voice in my culture. ‘Feminist’ is not the first idea that I would choose to describe myself, however, if asked then the only answer would be ‘of course’ – I mean, what is the alternative? In many ways I don’t really know what ‘feminism’ means at this point. It seems both too obvious and also not specific enough. When I think about it, I realise how lucky I am that this is the case; that I live in a world where there are so many different feminisms and where my work can be implicitly feminist without being solely about ‘women’s issues’.—Patricia Piccinini, 2007
“Big Mother” represents a genetically engineered primate wet-nurse. It was inspired by a story about a female baboon whose baby died while still nursing. The primate mother, overwhelmed by grief, abducted a human child as a substitute (the little girl was quickly recovered unharmed).
“In her new video work ‘When My Baby (When My Baby)’, an unidentified creature is presented in close-up. “Hair and folds of skin ssuggest a living entity which is animated by the squirming, bump-like presence of symbiotic parasites that move about just beneath the surface. The gradual revealing of a face elicits pathos and also a deeply-rooted primal recognition between viewer and creature. Like much of Piccinini’s work, this odd visage is both familiar and strange to us, just as we are no doubt equally perplexing to it.”—Rachel Kent, “Nature’s Little Helpers,” exhibition catalogue, Robert Miller Gallery, NYC, 2005
Writing about this video in the same catalogue Piccinini explained, “In ‘When My Baby (When My Baby)’ another transformation takes place over the course of a few minutes. It does change back; however, once we have seen it we can never return. When I started this work, I was thinking of Peter Allen, ‘The Boy from Oz’. I’m not sure why.”
Text, images, audio, and/or video in the Feminist Art Base are copyrighted by the contributing artists unless otherwise noted. All rights reserved.