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Patricia Piccinini at Tai Kwun Contemporary

HOPE—Patricia Piccinini /
May 24 – Sep 3, 2023 /

JC Contemporary /
Tai Kwun /
10 Hollywood Road /
Central, Hong Kong /
Tue – Sun, 11am – 7pm /

Featuring more than 50 sculptural, photographic and filmic works by the Australian artist Patricia Piccinini, Tai Kwun Contemporary’s immersive exhibition HOPE taps into our hopes and fears about the impact of science on humanity. The artist’s hyperrealistic sculptures of human-animal hybrids, both endearing yet grotesque, explore the unexpected consequences of tampering with nature. Visitors will get to explore an engrossing, perplexing, and deeply touching world that is at once fantastical yet one with which we identify naturally and instinctively.

While her work concerns scientific progress and humankind’s destructive power over nature, a resilient optimism shines through. HOPE is Patricia Piccinini’s first solo exhibition in Hong Kong and encompasses all of the gallery spaces of JC Contemporary. Among the largest works in the show is Celestial Field (2021), a vast, immersive installation comprising 4,500 individual flower stems sprouting both upward from the floor and hanging downward from the ceiling, inviting visitors to contemplate on “progress”. Elsewhere, Piccinini responds to the signature spiral staircase of JC Contemporary with a 20-meter-high installation of multicolored wigs spun together and suspended down the void from the ceiling of the top floor.

Much of Patricia Piccinini’s work explores the notion of interdependence: the interdependence between humans and artificial objects—such as shoes, cradles, chairs—and the interdependence between humans and other creatures. The artist is fascinated by what she calls “artificial nature,” where humans are combined with other living creatures either in the imagination or in a laboratory. With humanity on the cusp of being able to design and create new forms of life, these “chimeras” pose fundamental questions about the new horizons that technological advances have opened. For the artist, this prospect triggers both hope and anxiety about the nature of progress. Piccinini imagines how living with such creatures demands the same love, care, and empathy as we are morally compelled to show to the living beings that we share the planet with. Visitors to HOPE will therefore not only experience the artist’s spectacular vision but will also be invited to delve more deeply into broader questions about progress, science and technology, as well as the ethics of care.

Over the course of the exhibition, Tai Kwun Contemporary will host a wide range of public programming and educational events that dive into the deeper themes raised by Piccinini’s works, including her references to mythology and iconography, as well as broader ethical questions about science, progress, and ethics. These include Patricia Piccinini After Hours, a series of intimate conversations with special guests and speakers who will be discussing topics such as ethics and morality in biotech and genetics, the climate crisis and extinction, and human creations of life. Patricia Piccinini’s Choice meanwhile will screen a series of films as chosen by the artist, including The Rocky Horror Picture ShowFrankenstein, and The Fly. Of particular interest to families with children will be the Family Day events held throughout the run of the exhibition. Finally, HOPE—Patricia Piccinini also includes a special series of guided tours presented in collaboration with art and curatorial researcher Mankit Lai, artist Michelle Lee Ho Wing, artist and curator Eunice Tsang, guest curator and writer Chris Wan Feng, artist Ice Wong Kei Suet, artist and educator Morgan Wong, and architectural designer Human Wu.

HOPE will also present a small number of artist editions and merchandise in the Tai Kwun Contemporary kiosk in the gallery reception area. 

Tickets to the exhibition are available on Klook. HK$60 for general tickets and HK$50 for concession tickets (full-time students with ID, people with disabilities, and senior citizens over the age of 60). Tickets will also be available at the JC Contemporary reception: HK$70 (general) and HK$60 (concession). Children under the age of 5 can enjoy free admission. Meanwhile, Tai Kwun will offer limited qualities of buy-one get-one free admission tickets exclusive to TK Fan on a first come, first serve basis.

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