Loving Monsters

The Curious Case of Patricia Piccinini’s Posthuman Offspring


  • Maria Sofia Pimentel Biscaia Universities of Beira Interior and Aveiro




Patricia Piccinini, Donna Haraway, posthumanism, motherhood, reproduction, care


Patricia Piccinini’s work has been described as disquieting, compelling and grotesque. Other adjectives often used include disturbing, visceral, monstrous, chimerical but also cute and beautiful. The reason for the encounter of such descriptions which are typically found in separate realms is precisely that Piccinini seeks to fracture unitarian conceptualisations of humanness as she strives to materially debate issues of posthuman ethics. Her concerns relate to issues of breeding, mutation, biotechnology, motherhood/childhood, eco-philosophy and speciesism. In this paper, I will set off from the works of Donna Haraway and Rosi Braidotti to discuss Piccinini’s posthuman aesthetics and ethics. I propose to investigate the affirmative posthuman predicament which she has creatively designed for the art gallery space, reflecting the technocultural fabrications of our natureculture continuum. I will focus my attention on three posthuman propositions as they relate to the discourses of motherhood and reproduction: the cyborgian realities of the human and the animal; the organism and the machine; as well as the human, the animal and the vegetable. Piccinini’s reconfigurations are created into a world of tenderness and imbued with an ethics of care as she, unlike Victor Frankenstein, aims to love her creatures.

Author Biography

Maria Sofia Pimentel Biscaia, Universities of Beira Interior and Aveiro

holds a doctoral degree in Literature (2005). She is the author of the book Postcolonial and Feminist Grotesque: Texts of Contemporary Excess (Peter Lang, 2011) as well as co-editor of the collection of essays Intercultural Crossings: Conflict, Memory, Identity (Peter Lang, 2012). She is part of the international project ‘Bodies in Transit 2’ which addresses how bodies have been historically transformed through social relations, discourses, and technologies, by drawing from feminist, queer, postcolonial and posthumanist theories of the embodied self. Currently she is teaching at the Universities of Beira Interior and Aveiro, Portugal.

Acknowledgements: This research has been funded by the Project ‘Bodies in Transit 2—Difference and Indifference’; ref.: FFI2017–84555–C2–2–P, MINECO-FEDER. All photographs are the courtesy of the artist, Tolarno Galleries (Melbourne), Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery (Sydney), and Hosfelt Gallery (San Francisco). The author would also like to thank Roger Moll, Ms. Piccinini’s studio manager, for his invaluable help to get permission to use the visual material included in this paper.


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How to Cite

Biscaia, Maria Sofia Pimentel. 2019. “Loving Monsters: The Curious Case of Patricia Piccinini’s Posthuman Offspring”. Nordlit, no. 42 (November):27–46. https://doi.org/10.7557/13.5003.