Tesla Talk: Helen Pynor

Liquid Ground 1 Invite Image cropped 72dpi


Wednesday 25th May 2011

6 - 7pm

University College London

South Wing,

Garwood Lecture Theatre

Gower Street, London



Abstract: In her latest exhibition entitled ‘Breath’ Pynor takes a tour through the chronicles of misfortune surrounding incidents of accidental drowning in the Thames River. Using this historical and forensicarchive as a starting point, Pynor explores the conceptual and metaphoric possibilities of the anatomical structures most intimately linked to breathing, namely the lungs and heart, and their relationships with cultural objects such as boats that, like lungs, are sometimes fallible vessels for the containment of air in water-borne mediums.

More broadly, ‘Breath’ explores an anatomically explicit language for the representation of the interior human body, and the interior body’s entanglements with personal, historical, and cultural narratives. Pynor’s work takes up Susan Oyama’s proposition that ‘the biological is fully historical, and the historical is fully biological’. This is not to suggest that one process can be reduced to the other, but rather to hint at the radical and deeply nuanced ‘interpenetration’ of these processes, which renders the ‘nature-nurture’ distinction defunct.

Pynor’s broader conceptual goal is the reconciliation of materialist understandings of the human body as proposed within the sciences, and the body as a culturally-constructed entity as understood with cultural theory discourses.

‘Breath’ is showing at GV Art Gallery, 49 Chiltern Street London W1U 6LY

020 8408 9800
6 May-2 July


Helen Pynor gained a BSc (Hons) in Biology at Macquarie University, a BVA in Photography and Sculpture at Sydney College of the Arts, The
University of Sydney, and a PhD at Sydney College of Arts, The University of Sydney. Her practice has included exhibitions, residencies and public art commissions in Australia, Europe and Asia and she has been the recipient of prestigious national awards in Australia such as the 2009 RBS Emerging Artist Award and the 2008 Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award. Pynor has been the recipient of a number of Australia Council for the Arts grants in recent years and her work is held in public, corporate and private collections. She is currently working on a major project exploring organ transplantation with artist Peta Clancy. Pynor has recently relocated to London.

How to find the Garwood Lecture Theatre:
Once you enter the main UCL gate at Gower Street, you will face the Portico in the UCL quadrangle courtyard. Please take the right hand side diagonal and walk to the right corner of the building. You will see the brass table indicating South Wing. Enter the second entrance door at the South Wing, and you will find the Garwood Lecture Theatre on the first floor. There will be signs from the entrance that will help you to find the exact location easily.