From The Art and Popular Culture Encyclopedia
Patricia Piccinini (born in 1965) is an Australian artist. Her mixed media works include the series Truck Babies, and the sculpture The Young Family which was chosen to represent Australia at the 2003 Venice Biennale. Her art often reflects her interests in world issues such as bioethics, biotechnologies and human-animal hybrids. Piccinini is often compared to Ron Mueck due to her use of hyper-realistic silicone sculptures as part of practice. Her automotive sculptures, such as Truck babies and Nest have been compared to Erwin Wurm.
According to the National Gallery of Victoria, Australia: "Piccinini has an ambivalent attitude towards technology and she uses her artistic practice as a forum for discussion about how technology impacts upon life. She is keenly interested in how contemporary ideas of nature, the natural and the artificial are changing our society. Specific works have addressed concerns about biotechnology, such as gene therapy and ongoing research to map the human genome. Piccinini often creates acutely aesthetic and appealing works as a means of discussing complex ethical issues; she is also fascinated by the mechanisms of consumer culture."
Piccinini likes to explore what she calls the "often specious distinctions between the artificial and the natural". She challenges our classification of life by displaying the relationship and differences between the organic, natural and our constructed material world. This inspires her to combine human physiology and technological development.
Jackie Randles summarises the ethical and emotional content of Piccinini's work as follows: "By giving her creatures subjectivity and physical features that are recognizably human, Patricia creates emotionally charged scenes that represent familial love, nurturing and caring. In response, a viewer might reflect upon hope: the love of a mother for her sick child, the longing for a cure and the desire for a medical solution, no matter how strange or unnatural it may seem. When the life of one's own family is at stake, does this becomes more important than any advesre impact a bioengineered solution may have on the natural world? Patricia's own position in the work is ambiguous - she presents both sides of the story. This conflict is possibly deepened by her own experience of her mother's death from cancer. Clearly, there are no right or wrong answers - but the love of parents for their children is an overwhelmingly powerful force. ... Patricia Piccinini confronts us with difficult and emotional questions about bioengineering. However, despite their woe-begotten appearances, it is heartening that in their own worlds, each creature is presented as having a life of its own - a valued place in which it is accepted and has the capacity to give and receive love."
Piccinini is one of type of artist who works with fabricators to produce her works. Sam Jinks was the sculptor responsible for the fabrication of her silicone creature pieces from 2001-2006, while she now works with Sydney-based special effects firm MEG. Truck Babies was modelled by Paul Kuchera but since 2001 Robin Fischer, Scott Seedsman and John Kral have sculpted and painted her fiberglass automotive works . Dennis Daniel has done extensive computer modeling and animation for her since 1997. Full credits for her work can be found on her website and in her catalogs.