Open Letter About HyperPrometheus: The Legacy of Frankenstein At PICA

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New World Order New World Order © Hayden Fowler

HyperPrometheus is curated by Oron Catts, Laetitia Wilson and Eugenio Viola.


The exhibition features both Australian and international artists, re-contextualising Frankenstein for the new millenium.

Here, Laetitia Wilson pens an open letter explaining more about what to expect during the event.

“The mention of the name Frankenstein conjures thoughts of monsters, freaks and things that are strange, uncanny and out of control.

The name Frankenstein runs through popular culture, it is used to describe unusual foods and disturbing developments like cloning in the biological sciences. The name has also become far removed from its author, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, who, 200 years ago this year, penned the story of 'Frankenstein: Or The Modern Prometheus' at the age of just 18.

DanielLee Dancers
Dancers © Daniel Lee

Around the world, 2018 has been celebrated as the bicentenary of Frankenstein. Here in Perth, SymbioticA, the centre for art and the life sciences at the University of Western Australia, have teamed up with the Perth Institute of Contemporary Arts to present an ambitious gallery-wide exhibition titled HyperPrometheus: The Legacy Of Frankenstein. This exhibition is part of an even more ambitious programme of events throughout Perth called Unhallowed Arts.

Including works from 19 artists, HyperPrometheus considers Frankenstein for the 21st century. It puts Frankenstein in light of some of the contemporary issues and monstrosities we face today around the question of life – human, animal, cellular, ecological and synthetic ‘life’.

The boundaries between bodies are also challenged as human bodies morph into and become entangled with each other and with animal bodies in sculpture, video, animation, photography, performance and living biological art works. Likewise the ability of the natural world to repair itself is put into question as synthetic ‘life forms’ are imagined as potential saviours for dying ecosystems.

Lu Yang Reanimation
Reanimation! © Lu Yang

Why Hyper - Prometheus? This is in reference to a heady idea by environmental philosopher Timothy Morton – hyperobjects. Hyperobjects are the monsters of our time, of our own creation; things we are forced to reckon with daily – such air pollution, plastic, radiation. One artwork presents an ethical challenge by calling us to seriously consider our role as caretakers for the hyperobject of nuclear waste for future generations.

In one version of the myth, Prometheus stole fire from the gods and paid dearly for this by being chained to a rock and having his liver eaten out by an eagle over and over. HyperPrometheus asks how today we will wield our gift of fire – the marvellous technologies we have at our disposal. Will we face up to our creations and take responsibility for the consequences, the hyperobjects, and whatever monstrosities result, or will we cower in fear and denial and become victims of our own success, like Dr. Victor Frankenstein?”

HyperPrometheus runs at PICA from 19 October-23 December.

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