Helen Pynor’s ‘The Accidental Primate 1’ was first exhibited in her 2014 solo show of the same name. ‘The Accidental Primate’ presents a series of photographs of parachutes and bats, creating a dialogue between fabric and skin, creasing, collapsing, or billowing outwards with the violences of wind and implied collisions. The series also explores human-bat relations and the entanglements that forge our mutual futures. An Australian scientist has proposed that the macrobats, including Sydney’s grey-headed flying foxes, have been misclassified and should rightfully be placed amongst the primates based on a synergy between haemoglobin structures. This unlikely theory provided inspiration for Pynor’s meditation on interspecies connectivity.
Bats and humans are deeply entangled, even if not through genetic legacy, through our close physical proximity in urban spaces, our ecological dependence on bats as long-distance pollinators, the threat we pose to bat survival through habitat loss, the emotional bonds that form between orphaned or rehabilitating bats and their human carers, and the highly particular place bats occupy as agents of the sinister in the Western imagination. The fates of humans and bats collide.
Pynor’s work is frequently developed during in-depth residencies in scientific and clinical institutions, most recently The Francis Crick Institute, London, The Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, and The Heart and Lung Transplant Unit, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney.
Pynor holds a Bachelor of Science (1st Class Hons) (Macquarie University), a Bachelor of Visual Arts (Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney), and a cross-disciplinary PhD (Sydney College of the Arts, The University of Sydney) that drew together her dual backgrounds. She has exhibited widely nationally and internationally including at The National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, The National Centre for Contemporary Art, Russia, FACT – Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Liverpool UK, Science Gallery Dublin, Science Gallery London, The Australian Centre for Photography, Wellcome Collection, London, The Old Operating Theatre, London, Ars Electronica, Linz, and the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.