Sunday, November 28, 2021
Home World Reimagining Our Relationship With Nature Through Art

Reimagining Our Relationship With Nature Through Art


The Australia Letter is a weekly newsletter from our Australia bureau. Sign up to get it by email.

The creature has the pointed beak and fin of a dolphin but the sagging jowls and stomach of someone getting on in years. Straggly blonde hair trails out of its blowhole and down to its dorsal fin. Its fleshy body is mottled like it’s been in the cold a bit too long.

It’s grotesque. I can’t decide if the doleful and all-too-human expression on its face makes it more or less bearable.

But there’s something loving in the way its hands are curled protectively around the young girl in its lap, webbed fingers delicate and careful against her back and knees. The girl, meanwhile, looks like she’s having a nice nap.

The upstairs rooms of Flinders Street Station in Melbourne, open to the public for the first time in 25 years, are filled with sculptures like this, hybrid creatures both familiar and alien, created by the Australian artist Patricia Piccinini.

“It’s asking us to make that journey from feeling averse and uncomfortable around something we’re unsure about, to warmth and connection,” Piccinini said of the exhibition, called “A Miracle Constantly Repeated.” “That’s a hard thing to do, to make that journey. We’re not used to doing that.”

The exhibition was designed as part of Rising, the new Melbourne arts festival, and is one of the few events to survive the lockdowns that forced the cancellation of much of the festival.

Tens of thousands of Victorians have flocked to see one of Australia’s pre-eminent contemporary artists in one of Melbourne’s most mythological spaces. I visited it one afternoon earlier this week, driven by the desire to be out of my house as much as possible after two weeks of lockdown (and just before we got hit by another one).

The show reimagines our relationship with nature, a subject that feels particularly prescient now as wildfires burn in the United States and floods and fire ravage parts of Europe. Piccinini says she started planning for it during the 2019-2020 Australian bushfires, and concerns about the environment are threaded through her works.

The aforementioned aquatic creature, in “No Fear of Depths,” is based on the threatened Australian humpback dolphin, while other works imagine how animals might be modified to survive dangers like trash in the ocean and introduced predator species.

“The problem is that when we allow ourselves to be apart from nature, we can act on the rest of nature and think that it’s not going to affect us,” she said. “This dichotomous relationship just isn’t working anymore for us.”

Instead, her works portrays relationships of care and connection and invite the same from the viewer. “Sapling” depicts a man hoisting a tree-child hybrid on his shoulders, its fleshy roots curled playfully around his torso. In “While She Sleeps” a pair of naked leonine-faced creatures based on the extinct thylacine huddle together as if for warmth, liquid eyes gazing out at the viewer.

Piccinini’s creatures are unsettlingly realistic, from the fine dustings of hair on their skins to the tiny wrinkles where their fingers and toes bend. Within the cracked and peeling walls of the normally empty Flinders Street Station ballroom, where the sounds of the surrounding city are muffled and distant, it feels like the creatures could step right off their pedestals. You can’t help but recognize something familiar in all of them, no matter how strange they look.

“Much of my work is about making connections,” she said. “Connections between ideas, but also emotional connections between the works and the viewers. I really do hope that there is a space for everyone in this exhibition. The work springs from the basic assumption that all life, all bodies, all beings are beautiful and valuable.”

The exhibition runs until January 16.

Now for our stories of the week:



Credit…An Rong Xu for The New York Times

Enjoying the Australia Letter? Sign up here or forward to a friend.

For more Australia coverage and discussion, start your day with your local Morning Briefing and join us in our Facebook group.

RELATED ARTICLES

U.K. confirms two cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

As the world scrambled to prevent the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant that was first detected in southern Africa, Britain’s Health...

wto: WTO puts off key Geneva meet over variant concerns – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Four days before kick-off, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) put off a ministerial meeting that was to decide on crucial global...

UK, Germany, Italy Detect Cases Of New Covid Variant

<!-- -->New Covid strain: Several nations have imposed restrictions on travel from southern Africa. (File)London/Berlin/Amsterdam: Britain, Germany and Italy detected cases of the...

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

- Advertisment -stock market course

Most Popular

North Carolina’s Furniture Hub Is Booming. What Comes Next?

HICKORY, N.C. — Six months into the coronavirus pandemic, as millions of workers lost their jobs and companies fretted about their economic future,...

U.K. confirms two cases of the Omicron coronavirus variant.

As the world scrambled to prevent the spread of the new Omicron coronavirus variant that was first detected in southern Africa, Britain’s Health...

wto: WTO puts off key Geneva meet over variant concerns – Times of India

NEW DELHI: Four days before kick-off, the World Trade Organisation (WTO) put off a ministerial meeting that was to decide on crucial global...

Late Left Leader’s Daughter A Trinamool Candidate In Kolkata Civic Poll

<!-- -->Basundhara Goswami has been a left student activist since her college days. (Representational)Kolkata: Basundhara Goswami, the daughter of late RSP heavyweight and...

Recent Comments

%d bloggers like this: