50th Venice Biennale 2003: Patricia Piccinini

15 June - 2 November 2003

Australia Council for the Arts

Project Manager: Global Art Projects

Curator: Linda Michael

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Within the domestic spaces of the Australian Pavilion a family of art works by Patricia Piccinini was created for the Venice Biennale.

Piccinini's exhibition, We Are Family, brought a fresh, personal perspective to some of the most difficult bio-ethical issues of our time: What is normal? What constitutes a human being? Where does one species end and the other begin? Are some lives worth more than others? What is a family?

The promise and the perils of our runaway scientific developments - cloning, genetic manipulation and animal-to-human organ transplants - are given form. Her work explores the changing relationship between what is considered natural and what is artificial, what is 'normal' and mutant.

Piccinini's works embody our dreams of perfect children, of life disease-free, yet always articu-late the value of difference and uncertainty. They emerge from a deep personal understanding of the issues involved in medical intervention in human life.

We Are Family included:

  • Team WAF (Precautions), helmets, each a strange mixture of mask, motorcycle helmet and prosthetic device, hint at the radically different beings that populate the Pavilion;
  • Game Boys Advanced, young cloned twin boys, who on close inspection show signs of old age - grey hairs, age-spots and wrinkles;
  • The Young Family, a trans-species mother with a litter of suckling pups;
  • Leather Landscape, a toddler clad in pink plays with some naked, unidentifiable animals on a leather form inspired by automotive design;
  • Still Life with Stem Cells, a young girl cares for a group of strange embryonic lumps with veined and hairy skin;
  • Plasmid Region, a video depicts an endless cycle of amorphously corporeal creation and growth.