Helen Pynor’s practice explores the materiality of human and non-human bodies, and philosophically and experientially ambiguous zones such as the life-death boundary, the inter-subjective nature of organ transplantation and the animate-inanimate boundary in relation to prosthetics.
Pynor works with living and ‘semi-living’ cells, organs and biomolecules such as DNA, and in a recent work her own surgically excised bone material. She works across photography, sculpture, installation, video, media art, microscopy and performance.
Pynor frequently undertakes in-depth residencies in scientific and clinical institutions, including The South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute, Adelaide (2020-2021); The Francis Crick Institute, London (2018); The Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden (2015, 2017); The Heart and Lung Transplant Unit, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney (2012-2013); and SymbioticA, The University of Western Australia (2010). She also collaborates with members of the broader community whose embodied experiences connect with the themes of her work.
Pynor’s work has been exhibited in major nationally and internationally significant surveys of media and visual art including Experimenta ‘Life Forms’ International Triennial of Media Art (touring nationally 2021-2023); Beijing Media Art Biennial (2018); ‘No Such Thing As Gravity’ at FACT (Foundation for Art and Creative Technology) Liverpool UK and National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts (2016, 2017); ‘Blood’ at Science Gallery London (2017); ‘HAAR’ at Centraal Museum, Utrecht, Netherlands (2016); ISEA2013, 19th International Symposium of Electronic Art (2013); ‘Prix Ars Electronica’ at OK Center for Contemporary Art, Linz, Austria (2012); ‘Brains: The Mind as Matter’ at Wellcome Collection, London and Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester UK (2012 and 2013); and ‘Lovelace’ at The Powerhouse Museum MAAS, Sydney (2011).
Pynor received an Honorary Mention at the internationally prestigious media art prize Prix Ars Electronica in Linz, Austria for her collaborative work with Peta Clancy ‘The Body is a Big Place’. She has received national awards in Australia including The Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award and The Royal Bank of Scotland Emerging Artist Award. She has been short-listed on numerous occasions for significant national art awards such as the Bowness Photography Prize and the National Photography Prize.
Pynor has completed a PhD at Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney, a Bachelor of Visual Arts at Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney (Sculpture, Installation, Photography) and a Bachelor of Science (1st Class Hons) at Macquarie University, Sydney (Cell and Molecular Biology).
Pynor’s work is held in the collections of The Francis Crick Institute, London; Wellcome Collection, London; Royal Bank of Scotland; The Macquarie Bank Group, Sydney; The University of Sydney; Artbank; Gold Coast City Art Gallery, QLD; City of Joondalup, Perth and private collections in France, Germany, Switzerland, United Kingdom, Ireland, Singapore and Australia. She lives and works in Sydney and London.
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