Sculptures blur lines of humanity
Piccinini’s odd creatures discomfort at Hosfelt Gallery
We know at heart that we are animals, but we conceal our beastliness from others, and even from ourselves. We mask our impulses, ritualize our bodily functions, tame our hairiness.
The most disturbing aspect of Patricia Piccinini’s horrid sculptures of animalized humans — and they are decidedly that, and not the other way around — is not that they are cross-bred. We can imagine, for whatever warped or wicked reason, designing a creature to our culture’s specifications. What we could not abide would be the loss of our own prim shells of seemliness.
“Inter-natural,” the Australian artist’s exhibition at Hosfelt Gallery through Jan. 26, concentrates on the most animalistic of her work. The machine hybrids we saw in her last show at the gallery were easier to pull off, for the simple reason that industrial designers have been taking cues from nature at least since they started adding tail fins to automobiles.
In the current outing, the artist whiffs as often as she connects. The piece that greets viewers as they enter the gallery, “The Builder” (2018), imagines a small child’s body with beaver-like teeth and tail. One can picture the work as an animation model for the next Pixar production: just so cheeky as to attract attention, mawkish enough to sell lots of tickets.
Not that eliding the supposed boundaries between fine art, film and the amusement park is necessarily a zero-sum competition. One can find many cases where one field has fed the growth of others. It works best, though, when nourishment is the point.
“The Field” fills the gallery’s main room with 2,000 white, crab-like forms on white stems. It’s Instagrammably impressive, at first. A second look, however, reveals the flower heads to be more plas-
Patricia Piccinini’s “The Loafers” (2018)