Patricia Piccinini: Hold Me Close to Your Heart
Patricia Piccinini
Hold Me Close to Your Heart

Curator:
Başak Doğa Temür

22 June-21 August 2011

This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.
Patricia Piccinini
"The Lovers" (2011); "The Observer" (2010)
Installation view: "Hold Me Close to Your Heart", Arter, 2011
Photo: Fethi İzan, P Blok
Patricia Piccinini
"Plasticology" (1997–2011)
Patricia Piccinini
"Eulogy" (2011)
Patricia Piccinini
Installation view: "Hold Me Close to Your Heart", Arter, 2011, 2nd floor
Photo: Fethi İzan, P Blok
In "Hold Me Close to Your Heart", Patricia Piccinini set in motion various mediums such as sculpture, installation, drawing and video in a compilation of her works from 1997 to the present.

In her works, Piccinini deals with various vital issues of contemporary life with reference to today's technologies, consumerism and the construct of nature. Her work addresses the ambivalent state of mind caused by opposing conventional wisdoms: on the one hand there is an abundance of 'prophetic signs' indicating that we are approaching the 'end time' and on the other the belief that science and its technologies will heal the world and make it a paradisiacal never-ending place. According to her, to accept that contemporary technologies are going to revolutionise our world and make it a better place is as "rubbish" as to claim these technologies in the least worthless. Mindful of the forces at play behind the shiny, seductive yet camouflaged perfection, she borrows its limitless polishing strategy and creates a similar aura, resulting in a quite unfamiliar 'end product'.

Through the puzzling appearance of these 'end products' one of the antagonisms her works tackle is the 'nature vs. culture' opposition. However, when the artist tackles this opposition, she focuses on contemporary constructs and their implications. She is interested in what constitutes 'nature' for a "contemporary, movie watching, in-vitro fertilised mall-rat." Her creatures look often 'abnormal', 'unnatural' or 'freakish'. Their size, proportions, highly realistic fleshy finishes evoke a sense that they could have been evolved into a 'normal' human or animal. Still, they seem to be genetically modified, lab-produced mutants, albeit with friendly eyes, cute smiles and adorable poses. The strength of Piccinini's work evokes this tension through direct physical encounters, as she brings the viewer face to face with hideous yet friendly creatures in an act that prompts us to reconsider the accepted binary oppositions of nature vs. culture, beauty vs. ugliness/disgust and necessity vs. luxury. Meanwhile, the infant-like attributes of these creatures immediately evoke an inevitable sense of sympathy, care, affection, love and even an urge to cuddle and protect them.

The exhibition "Hold Me Close to Your Heart" proposed an experience, a journey to another world: one that was simultaneously unfamiliar and strangely similar to ours. This experience encouraged the viewer to stay at this very moment to focus on the highly contemporary issues and debates around technology, media culture, consumerism and science. This journey encompassed Piccinini's response to Arter's multi-storey structure by treating the space as an installation that consisted of three distinct atmospheres to be experienced as a journey to another world. Brightly illuminated, the ground floor commented on the shiny world of commodities and the nature of everyday life in a post-industrial urban environment; the first floor was inhabited by invented hybrid creatures, surrogates for endangered species to explore further the contemporary construct of 'nature', our place in it, and our attempts to control it. Finally, the most intimate part of the journey, invited the viewer into a homely setting on the second floor, where the residents are asleep and into a meditation on being human, on our creations and our responsibilities towards them.

In "Hold Me Close to Your Heart", she led us to a state of contemplation, suggesting to remember and reconsider the power of being a family; a power which finds its source in holding each other close to our hearts; in altruism and generosity, inexhaustible patience, being unprejudiced and accepting of all failures, idiocies and ugliness, to hold together even in the most unbearable plight. It offers one of the many keys to hope for those of us wishing to reconcile ourselves with our creations.