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O critiqued on HOPE—Patricia Piccinini【一人一點藝評社 One Point Critique Society】

“HOPE”: Weird Cuties

The term uncanny valley first came into my head when I visited “HOPE” at Tai Kwun. Invented in the 1970s, the term describes how a higher degree of negative emotions is typically evoked towards objects that seem almost human. In this sense, staring at Austrian artist Patricia Piccinini’s hyper-realistic chimeras, shouldn’t the audience immediately turn away in revulsion or at least feel unease? Yet, most of the people around me commented on the sculptures, murmuring the word-“cute”.

I have been wondering about this cuteness throughout the show. If those bizarre creatures appeared decades ago, they would probably be presented in a creepy and spooky way. But, in this exhibition, their strangeness is covered by a swarm of love, intimacy and tenderness, like bubble wrap. In a video interview displayed on the 2/F, Piccinini somehow explains why she believes those part-human, part-animal species have been more acceptable nowadays: hybrid has become the reality already. People are more used to genetically engineering technologies, ranging from crops, livestock to human babies, without even realizing it. That’s why I often heard the word “cute” instead of “eerie” in the show.

The work “The Couple”(2018), for instance, showcases how the xenophobia originated in the classic science-fiction novel Frankenstein has been dismantled in the imagination of Piccinini. Curling up like a baby in his mate’s arms, a silicone monster sleeps with his eyes closed in bed. Not only contentment is conveyed, but also some kind of desperation and loneliness hidden deep down in their cuddling bodies. Looking back at the story of Frankenstein, the monster was not allowed to have a female companion out of his human creator’s fear that their offspring would inevitably destroy mankind. The redemption of “The Couple” over the relationship between monsters indicates that human being should shoulder more ethical responsibility for their scientific inventions. Unlike the previous caravan setting, the work this time is situated in a stable and homey environment with a newborn baby “Foundling”(2008), seeming to suggest a brighter future for different species to coexist on our mother earth.

In the coming post-human world, an open attitude to all forms of intelligence is foreseeable. These human-like creatures are “odd but beautiful”, as Piccinini said.

Images taken by the writer.

- 希望——帕翠西亞.皮奇尼尼 𝘏𝘖𝘗𝘌—𝘗𝘢𝘵𝘳𝘪𝘤𝘪𝘢 𝘗𝘪𝘤𝘤𝘪𝘯𝘪𝘯𝘪 展覽日期:24/5 - 3/9/2023 展覽地點:賽馬會藝方 JC Contemporary Facebook專頁:大館 Tai Kwun Instagram專頁:@taikwuncontemporary



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