The Fitzroy Series
by Patricia Piccinini (2011)
The world I create exists somewhere between the one we know and one that is almost upon us. However, what I imagine is neither the nightmare future environmental ruin nor the brave new world of perfect scientific progress. Instead I focus on the internal, emotional lives of the new creatures that might emerge, along with questions about the kinds of relationships that might come to light along side them. My creatures, while strange and unsettling, are not threatening. Instead, it is their vulnerability that often most comes to the fore. They plead with us to look beyond their unfamiliarity, and ask us to accept them. It is surprising how quickly we grow used to them, which reminds us that this sort of thing is not as far in the future as we might think. We are surrounded by hidden genetic engineering and biotechnology in our food and our animals already.
I began my investigations into these kinds of issues using photography many years ago. In recent years I have focused more on sculpture, however I have been waiting for an opportunity to return to photography for a number of reasons. The stillness of a photograph is very different from that of a sculpture. A sculpture seems forever frozen, while the captured moment of a photograph implies a continuum of action before and after it. The viewer is left to imagine what might be. I am interested in how the drama of these situations play out. The situations which we find in these images are simultaneously charged and ordinary - unexpected to us but unremarkable for the participants. I have always felt that the familiar and the local are more relevant to my work than the strange and alien. I am always looking for ways to locate these creatures in a world that we know, to remind us of their closeness. However, this also changes how we look that these everyday spaces, adding another layer to them.
So, who are the inhabitants of the particular Fitzroy that these photographs bring to us. Many of them are the people and places that we already find here but there are a couple of new additions that we are not so used to. There is a boy, or perhaps more accurately a young male as this fellow is more primate than human. I imagine him as a representative from some hybrid species, somehow independent, possibly an escapee or an accident, overlooked or perhaps hiding. The other creature we find in these images I call the Bottom Feeder, and it’s reason for being is more clear. It has been designed to eat rubbish. As such, its role is important but unsightly. It is something we’d rather not see or think about too much.
Both these figures are creatures which are at home in their particular ecosystem, which is the urban. We don’t tend to think of the urban environment as an ecosystem. We usually imagine it as something which has replaced an ecosystem with something else, however it is an increasingly dominant ecosystem on this planet, and one to which not many species are well adapted. My interest in these images is how these creatures interact with the species that most dominates this particular environment: humans.