“You look at things in a way that you normally wouldn’t, in a space that you wouldn’t normally be in”
Patricia Piccinini

Are you aware that the third floor of Flinders Street Station houses a 100-year-old ballroom and surrounding network of hidden rooms? Are you aware that these mysterious urban spaces have been closed to the public for the past 35 years? Finally, are you aware that as of 26 May, 2021, in collaboration with the City of Melbourne’s new winter arts festival, Rising, the doors to these once-exclusive areas have been thrown open to one and all? Of course, this grand re-opening is not merely whimsical. In fact, it is in celebration of the first extensive hometown show in nearly two decades by Australia’s pre-eminent visual artist, Patricia Piccinini. The show is entitled A Miracle Constantly Repeated, and it may be described as an installation which includes a highly sensuous eco-system of hyper-realistic silicone-fibreglass-human hair sculptures, light, sound and video. Piccinini is world-renowned for her work that could holistically be described as existing on the border of art and science. Specifically, she has spent the better part of the past three decades exploring humanity’s relationship to technology and the environment. A Miracle Constantly Repeated continues this evolving exploration by addressing how technology and nature coexist and combine. It may sound complicated, but this is a theme with which each and every member of humanity can connect – and should connect, for that matter.

Upon entering the door located at 273 Flinders Street and making your way to the top floor of Flinders Street Station, it is immediately apparent that the exhibition has considerably expanded the ballroom’s architecture with the inclusion of gigantic dioramas, “sentient saplings”, nurturing marine mammals and larger-than-life life-sustaining foliage. With this introduction, a stark contrast becomes apparent. According to Piccinini, “It’s an artificial space that’s talking about a natural space.” This artificially natural eco-system is home to a host of strange, yet familiar, and fascinating beings. Though potentially revolting in a lot of respects, these fantastical creatures are equipped with the purpose to inspire curiosity, empathy and hope – ultimately, to inspire the public to consider the possibility of a new kind of natural world. “We’ve inherited this idea that we are HERE and nature’s OVER THERE,” claims Piccinini. As such, this never-ending collection of awareness-limiting dichotomies such as human/animal, nature/culture and order/wildness is failing humanity and the planet in a very unpragmatic kind of way. Ultimately, these dichotomies fail to reflect the law of interdependence, thus lacking truth and reality.

Patricia Piccinini’s A Miracle Constantly Repeated

VISIT THE EXHIBITION

Patricia Piccinini’s A Miracle Constantly Repeated.

VISIT THE EXHIBITION

Patricia Piccinini’s A Miracle Constantly Repeated

VISIT THE EXHIBITION

In an attempt to encourage her audience to move beyond these dichotomies and help nurture a fresh and realistic understanding regarding the relationships between people and their natural world, Piccinini’s work celebrates embracing and moving beyond contradictions. One of the ways in which this is achieved is via the use of the aforementioned fantastical creatures, specifically categorised as chimeras. Chimeras are mythical creatures composed of familiar features integrated in an unfamiliar, often contradictory and discombobulating, way. Take, for example, what Piccinini describes as “a portrait of maternity”. This sculpture presents a mother chimera based on the endangered humpback dolphin, and she is tenderly holding an adolescent girl. “You look at things in a way that you normally wouldn’t, in a space that you wouldn’t normally be in,” Piccinini explains. This unfamiliarity provides a pause, or a gap, in which to engage with these ideas differently, more truthfully. Make no mistake, this exhibition requires a lot of thinking, a lot of emotional recognition and acceptance and more generally, a lot of inquisitiveness. It also provides the opportunity to reassess our relationship with the natural world and to realise that humanity and nature are indistinguishable, to appreciate the extraordinary in the ordinary in a very aesthetic, sensually oriented way. Bookings for A Miracle Constantly Repeated are essential. Book now.

Lifestyle & Design

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