Patricia Piccinini with her work 'Shoeform'. Photo: Alli Oughtred

From 22 January to 25 April Kai Art Center welcomes you to visit Patricia Piccinini‘s  solo exhibition The Instruments of Life. The exhibition is curated by Anna Mustonen and designed by Peter Hennessey.


Kai Art Center opens its 2021 exhibition season with a show by Patricia Piccinini, an acclaimed Australian artist, introducing her work in Estonia for the first time. Piccinini creates sculptures of hypothetical life forms, born out of the possibility of genetic cross-breeding. Each of the sculptures takes approximately one year to complete, and in order to achieve a hyperrealistic look, the artist uses silicone and human hair in the process. Visually uncanny, the surreal pieces raise numerous questions about the ethics of future developments in biotechnology and genetics as well as humans’ responsibility in conducting scientific research.


Piccinini studied economics and philosophy and came to art through drawing exhibits in collections of medical and science museums. Her focus is on humans’ relationship to one another and with other species, both within family throughout their life as well as within the ecosystem as a whole. Piccinini is also inspired by themes of fecundity in the broadest sense – the potential of life, empathy and the connection between species. The creatures in the exhibition hall, equally cute and grotesque, remind us how genetically close humans are to other species, how greatly we depend upon one another and the responsibility we have for everything we create.


Piccinini’s solo exhibition The Instruments of Life includes sculptures created between 2005 and 2019 and her new video work The Awakening (2020), dedicated to the body as a site of production, exploring themes like rebirth and renewal. Patricia Piccinini shared her thoughts, “I’m really excited to show my works for the first time in Estonia in collaboration with curator Anna Mustonen and the wonderful all-female team at Kai. Usually, accompanying my shows and meeting and interacting with the people that engage with my work is one of the joys of my life. Sadly, I won’t be able to be there in person this time but I can’t wait to see what people make of it, and I hope that lots of great discussions and experiences result out of the exhibition.”


Patricia Piccinini was born in 1965 in Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa. In 1972 the artist’s family moved to Australia, where Piccinini grew up. Today she lives and works in Melbourne. Piccinini holds a bachelor’s degree in economics from the Australian National University in Canberra and a bachelor’s degree in visual arts from the Victorian College of the Arts in Melbourne, where she has been a professor since 2017. Patricia Piccinini’s exhibition We are Family was Australia’s official representation for the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003.


Anna Mustonen is an independent curator and curatorial director at Mustonen has fifteen years of experience in both the public and private sectors, having worked at museums such as Tate Modern (London) and Kumu Art Museum (Tallinn), and at internationally renowned galleries Victoria Miro (London) and Haunch of Venison (London). In 2019 Mustonen curated the major exhibition Distant Land by Pentti Sammallahti for Fotografiska Tallinn and Stockholm, and she was the curator of Patricia Piccinini’s solo exhibition Between Shadow and the Soul at Taidehalli, Helsinki in 2020.


We kindly ask all visitors to follow the 2+2 meter rule and wear a mask at the exhibition. Please monitor your health and stay at home if you have any symptoms.


This exhibition is supported by the Finnish Institute and the Folk Culture Centre.


Kai Art Center is open Wednesdays to Sundays from 12pm to 7pm. Ticket prices are 8€/5€, and on Wednesdays admission is at the discounted price of 5€ for everyone. Kai Art Center’s Annual Pass with the price of 25€  can be bought here.