Embracing Compassion Through Patricia Piccinini's Exhibition: CARE

Museum MACAN proudly presents renowned Australian artist Patricia Piccinini’s first solo exhibition in Indonesia. Open to the public from May 23, 2024, the exhibition titled CARE is curated by Tobias Berger and showcases a comprehensive collection of Piccinini's work. Featuring more than forty life-sized sculptures, three massive video installations, and the stunning Celestial Field (2021) – an installation made up of thousands of flowers – CARE offers an in-depth and large-scale exploration of Piccinini's artistic vision. Beyond its visual spectacle, CARE prompts visitors to reflect on the meaning of compassion and the caring relationships between humans and the environment.

Patricia Piccinini is celebrated for her hyper-realistic sculptures of natural and mechanical chimeric creatures. Her artistic practice explores new forms of the body, physicality, and compassion. Her works blur the boundaries between the artificial and the natural, challenging our understanding of our relationship with the world around us and envisioning a future where humans and other beings coexist not just in shared spaces but within shared forms.

In an interview with Grafis Masa Kini at Museum MACAN, Patricia shared her thoughts on what compassion and care mean to her and how it is translated through her works. She believes that even the process of creating her art is an act of caring. "These works are made with love and care," the artist revealed. She explained that each sculpture takes months, sometimes years, to complete, crafted by people who are passionate about what they do. "Through the process, the audience will feel that I care deeply about these works. I also care deeply about them (the audiences), so I present works made with my whole heart," Patricia added.


As audiences navigate the exhibition space, they will encounter imaginative creatures inspired by living beings and mythology. These creatures invite us to contemplate new forms of life through the lens of care and compassion. The series of beings also depicts intimate gestures of affectionate relationships. For Patricia, it is crucial for artists to discuss compassion, which often gets overshadowed by other issues. "Relationships, intimacy, and care are rarely represented and voiced," Patricia said. Therefore, for the artist, designing works that speak to intimate matters close to us is complex and far from simple.

Patricia's works extend beyond human relationships to explore broader compassion, such as the relationship between nature and human-made entities. "Why should we care?" Patricia asked. "Because we have compassion for our environment. Now, it is up to us to break down the boundaries (between nature and the artificial)," she elaborated. This exhibition invites us to explore our emotions as humans when facing the unknown, whether in the form of natural or artificial beings. How do we confront these strange or new creatures with all their emotional complexities?

In the press release, Venus Lau, Director of Museum MACAN, stated, "We are proud to present CARE, Patricia Piccinini’s inaugural major solo exhibition in Indonesia. As a globally recognized artist, Piccinini is known for her vision that can traverse critical issues in our contemporary society. We are also very pleased to have Tobias Berger as the curator for the project." As implied by its title, CARE explores the universal themes of relationships and intimacy that can be felt by audiences worldwide, including in Indonesia. This exhibition delves into urgent global issues surrounding ecology, biodiversity, and biotechnology. Through this exhibition, Museum MACAN also invites visitors to contemplate hybrid forms of imaginary life, highlighting the challenges Indonesia faces concerning endangered species.


The exhibition is enriched with local context to deepen its relevance to the narrative. For example, in The Couple, the domestic situation depicted in the figures reflects a typical Indonesian household, with familiar furniture and items that connect closely with local visitors. By integrating recognizable elements, the exhibition not only raises global themes but also forges meaningful connections with Indonesian culture and everyday life. Tobias Berger, the Curator, said, “CARE at MACAN is an immersive visual art experience in various chapters, a walk through the imaginative spaces, environments, and proposals of one of today’s most thought-animating artists.” 

Patricia Piccinini, added, “It has been a dream of mine to work with Museum MACAN, so I am really excited that we can bring this wonderful exhibition to Jakarta. This is my first major exhibition in the region and MACAN is a beautiful space with a diverse audience, so it is the perfect place for it. I think that CARE is a great opportunity to connect with that audience over issues that affect us all, from the environment to the nature of contemporary urban life. I think the intensity of Jakarta connects with the intensity of the work in an interesting way.” 

During the opening week, Museum MACAN will host a series of engaging events, including talks, tours, and storytelling sessions. Patricia Piccinini: CARE, A Conversation is scheduled for Saturday, 25 May 2024 at Ruang Gagasan Museum MACAN-ERHA. The artist herself, along with curator Tobias Berger, will introduce Piccinini’s artistic practice and the curatorial journey behind her inaugural exhibition in Indonesia. A special children’s tour and storytelling session titled Every Heart Sing will take place on Sunday, 26 May 2024. Families are invited to explore the exhibition space and embark on an adventure following the story of Skywhale and Skywhalepapa as they soar through the skies. Throughout the Patricia Piccinini: CARE exhibition, the museum offers a dedicated space for children and families to engage with various expressions of love and acts of kindness through interactive roleplay and spatial experiences. Titled Kindred Kinder, this area embodies Patricia Piccinini’s concept of care as an innate instinct that extends beyond species boundaries. The immersive experience is designed to foster curiosity, kindness, responsibility, and acceptance of differences. The Patricia Piccinini: CARE exhibition will run until October 6, 2024 – tickets can be purchased through the official Museum MACAN website.

About the Author

Alessandra Langit

Alessandra Langit is a writer with seven years of diverse media experience. She loves exploring the quirks of girlhood through her visual art and reposting Kafka’s diary entries at night.