By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil Rio de Janeiro (CCBB RJ) will host Australian visual artist Patricia Piccinini’s exhibition “ComCiência” from April 29th through June 27th. Blending hyper-realism and surrealism Piccinini’s, at times controversial, sculptures and works include human-animal-plant hybrid figures and anthropomorphized machines, used to address what the artist sees as the changing definitions of natural and artificial in modern-day society.
Inspired by interests including biotechnology, evolutionary biology, genetic engineering, and genetic mutation, Piccinini’s works ask viewers to question the effects of science in the contemporary world and humans moral and ethical obligations to and interactions with their creations.
In a release, Piccinini said of her work; “I am interested in discovering the meaning of being human in the context of genetic engineering and biotechnology and how these technologies influence the way we relate to the world.”
Before arriving in Rio, the exhibition has already attracted over half a million visitors while on display in the CCBB’s in both São Paulo and Brasília. For the Rio de Janeiro edition, Piccinini created two new pieces with one of the works designed especially for the cultural center’s famous rotunda.
“The imposing rotunda space in CCBB demands a dramatic and spectacular response from the artist,” said Piccinini. “The big challenge for me was to create a suitable work at the scale of the place and at the same time maintain the intimacy suggested by the rest of the show.”
The resulting work is an inflatable sculpture that will attach to the rotunda’s ceiling and will inflate and deflate every 15 to 20 minutes beginning on April 29th and continuing throughout the length of the exhibition until June 27th. When fully inflated the sculpture will be nearly 25 meters tall and 9.5 meters wide.
The exhibition will also feature an installation entitled, The Breathing Room. Hosted in a dark room featuring animations projected on screens and sounds corresponding to the images that move faster and slower and balance in sync, it is meant to be an immersive, multi-sensory experience with visitors feeling as if the room were breathing.
Curated by Marcello Dantas, the exhibition is a broad overview of Piccinini’s work, featuring anthropomorphized machine sculptures; reliefs and drawings; sculptures of disconnect hybridized parts, and major and iconic sculptures by Piccinini including: “Big Mother”, “The Comforter”, “The Observer”, and “The Long Awaited’,
“Big Mother” is a 2005 sculpture of a genetically-engineered primate breastfeeding a human baby, while “The Comforter” is a 2010 piece featuring the sculpture of a young girl with hypertrichosis, a genetic condition which can lead to excessive hair growth over the entire body, cradling a small amorphous being with smooth soft skin and feet like a human being but lacking eyes.
“The Observer” is a 2010 piece featuring the sculpture of young boy standing on a stack mass-produced chairs locking down upon the viewers and “The Long Awaited” is a 2008 piece featuring the sculpture of a young boy sitting on a bench peacefully asleep, curled over the shoulder of a large hybridized creature who is also peacefully asleep, resting its head on the young boy’s leg.
“The world I create exists somewhere between what we know and what is almost upon us (the imagination, or the future),” Piccinini said. “My creatures, though strange and sometimes disturbing, are not frightening. Instead, it is their vulnerability that often comes up. They ask that we look beyond its strangeness, inviting us to accept them.”
Following two days of soft opening the ComCiência exhibition will officially open on April 29th. It will then remain on display through June 27th. Entry is free.
What: ComCiência : Patricia Piccinini Exhibition
When: Soft opening on April 27th and 28th. Official opening on April 29th. Will remain on display with visiting hours on Wednesdays through Mondays, 9AM – 9PM.
Where: Centro Cultural Banco do Brasil (CCBB), Rua Primeiro de Março, 66 – Centro