Hippy and the Snake is Petrina Hicks’ first solo exhibition in Melbourne.
The exhibition comprises a series of large-scale photographs and an accompanying high definition video work that evoke the tension central to Hicks’ practice. In three of the photographs, ‘Hippy and the Snake’, ‘Snake Charmer’ and ‘The Message’, a teenage girl in an archetypal hippy t-shirt is pictured holding a snake. It’s a taut, unsettling image – it’s unclear if their interaction is playful, curious or dangerous. Serpents are mercurial creatures loaded with symbolism and history, evoking a multitude of disparate associations ranging from the religious to the sexual and historical. Hicks embraces the weight of these associations, rephrasing them in a wholly contemporary way. Carefully orchestrated and tightly controlled Hicks polished images embody the duality of her narrative, deftly straddling between human and digital creation. It is the palette of her hyper-real works, their intense, saturated colours, that most blatantly hints at the artifice that informs the works. But as in all Hicks work, there is always a visceral human element that hovers beneath the surface.