[ISEA2013] Artists Statement: Peta Clancy & Helen Pynor — Study towards ‘Aftermath’

Artists Statement

Hidden in a small side room is the other ‘heart’ of this show – the visceral one: Peta Clancy and Helen Pynor’s Study Towards Aftermath. A video documentation of the perfusion of pig hearts, performed at the Science Gallery in Dublin earlier in 2013, the work cleanly records a technical process, but this documentation is both disturbing and acutely poetic.

From what I see, ‘perfusion’ entails taking the pig hearts, hooking them up to tubes, zapping them into apparent life with a defibrillator (don’t quote me on this), and pumping blood through them (or letting them do the pumping themselves); in this case into a large perspex ‘blood-catching’ apparatus. Against Gail Priest’s minimal soundtrack of gentle harmonic hums, soft and distant, we watch the set-up: the splattering blood as clamps are manipulated; the urinal-like containers into which the hearts bleed copiously; the audience clustered around. The cinematography is stunning: sharp-focused and built on primary colours, mostly red. The two hearts in their dead-but-animated state pump and bleed; at one point, one seems to hiccup blood – it’s gruesome. The cut arteries gape like too-soft mouths; the beating action is undulating, horribly sensuous, and riveting. [Source: realtimearts.net/feature/ISEA2013/11169]

  • Dr. Peta Clancy, AU, is Senior LecturerDepartment of Fine Art, Monash University. Peta Clancy’s selected solo exhibitions have been included at Performance Space, Sydney (in collaboration with Helen Pynor) (2011); Dominik Mersch Gallery (2009 and 2007), Sydney; Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney (2007); Brighton Museum and Art Gallery, UK (2005); Platform Public Contemporary Art Spaces (2001); Gertrude Contemporary Art Spaces, Studio 12 (1997); and Centre for Contemporary Photography (1995). Clancy’s selected group exhibitions include Controversy: The Power of Art, Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery (2012) and Imagining the Everyday, Pingyao International Photography Festival, China (2010). [source: research.monash.edu]
  • Helen Pynor is an Artist and Researcher whose practice explores philosophically and experientially ambiguous zones, such as the life-death boundary, the inter-subjective nature of organ transplantation, and the animate-inanimate boundary in relation to prosthetics. Her work is informed by in-depth residencies in scientific and clinical institutions, for example The Francis Crick Institute, London; The Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden; The Heart and Lung Transplant Unit, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney; and SymbioticA, The University of Western Australia, Perth; and cultural institutions for example The Australia Council for the Arts London Studio; Performance Space, Sydney; and École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris. Pynor also frequently collaborates with members of the broader community whose embodied experiences connect with the themes of her work. Pynor has completed a practice-based PhD at Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney, a Bachelor of Visual Arts at Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney (Sculpture, Installation, Photography) and a Bachelor of Science (1st Class Hons) at Macquarie University, Sydney (Cell and Molecular Biology). [source: helenpynor.com]

In 2012 Clancy and Pynor were awarded an honorary mention in the 2012 Prix Ars Electronica in Austria for their ambitious exhibition project The Body is a Big Place commissioned by Performance Space. Furthermore, they have been awarded an ANAT Synapse Art/Science Residency Grant to undertake a four-month residency at St. Vincent’s hospital, Sydney in 2012. [source: research.monash.edu]