Patricia Piccinini: Curious Imaginings
Ends December 15, 2018
Open Daily 11am – 7pm
Just a few days ago I was lamenting to a friend that, in just three short years of living in Vancouver, I had become jaded by art. I remember when I first moved here, everything was new and interesting. I was wowed by every exhibit I went to and loved everything. I suppose this means I have developed discretion, which is good – and necessary – but I do miss that feeling of being blown away by art.
They say to be careful what you wish for. Less than a week later I found myself at the biennale exhibit at the Patricia Hotel on East Hastings featuring the sculptures of Patricia Piccinini. This exhibit is visceral. There were moments when I stood with my hands over my eyes, willing myself to look again at the figures in front of me. They were absolutely stunning, and at the same time, quite terrifying. The realism is incomparable and made me wonder if she had had experience with making props in movies. Details like beads of sweat, and veins under the skin were undeniable evidence that I had walked in on an actual living genetic mutation out of the X-Files.
The exhibit uses an entire hallway of level two of the hotel. Each room houses a strikingly realistic display, and at the end of the hall, there are some digital creations that draw a range of responses from viewers, from disgust and repulsion to calm and meditative. My own reaction was the former, and I hustled as quickly as I could to the next rooms, reminding myself to breathe, and that it wasn’t real.
There are a handful of creative expressions that have impacted me in this way. Watching the film, Schindler’s List was one of them. The world seemed to have shifted on its axis and I could never go back to looking at it through the same lens. Piccinini’s exhibit achieved a similar effect. I will never be able to see the Patricia Hotel without a strange feeling that there are still creatures housed inside those tiny hotel rooms, leading unusual and secretive lives – just trying to carve a place for themselves in a world where they are not welcome.
Generally I would encourage my readers to see an exhibit. In this case, I must dare you to go see it, because this is the kind of stamina required to make it through to the end. It will wow you, it will blow your mind, and it may even make you question the direction we are heading in as a human race, and then consider the mistakes we stand to repeat over and over again in new and unusual ways.