The Chrysalis: National Gallery of Australia

Petrina Hicks

21 Jul - 29 Sep 2019

Petrina Hicks’ The Chrysalis is currently on exhibition at the National Gallery of Australia.

Shot on a Phantom high-speed video camera, at 800 frames per second, Hick’s achieves a stretched out slow-motion seductive effect that heightens an idealized female sexuality, at the same time as an unsettling sense of revulsion to the almost pornographic dripping excess of saliva. Referencing the slick, stylistic trickery and allure often utilised by the advertising industry, her use of rich colour and human and natural florid form are juxtaposed with excess saliva and a blemished, creature-like tongue, corrupting the process of seduction with a sense of distaste and overt sexuality. This blurring of boundaries leaves the meaning elusive and slippery, the viewer denied any tangible meaning and left hovering in a state of ambiguity.

‘I’m drawing on ideas of how the advertising industry uses images of women in a sexual way: to sell. Yet I’m not selling anything. Instead I’m presenting a very contradictory image- one that doesn’t deliver the usual satisfaction one would expect.’

Hicks finds beauty in perceived imperfections and renders idealised beauty strange. Her digital interventions are almost imperceptible, creating a polished hyper-reality. These subtle contrasts within the image play with the capacity of photography for dual capacities as both a revealer of truths and a perpetrator of lies, embracing the scope of what it means to be human.