Helen Pynor explores philosophically and experientially ambiguous zones such as the life-death boundary and the inter-subjective borderlands of organ transplantation. Experimentation and engagement with living biological entities is essential to her research, sometimes undertaken in extreme conditions such as heart transplant operating theatres or abattoir killing floors, and at other times in the more measured environments of scientific laboratories. Pynor’s practice spans large-scale installations through to small intimate works, using photography, sculpture, video, media art, wet biology and performance.
Pynor has completed a practice-based 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 majoring in sculpture, installation and photography, and a Bachelor of Science (1st Class Hons) at Macquarie University, Sydney, majoring in cell and molecular biology.
Pynor has exhibited extensively nationally and internationally, most recently at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Taichung; National Centre for Contemporary Art, Baltic Branch, Russia; Science Gallery Dublin; OK Center for Contemporary Art, Ars Electronica, Linz; International Symposium on Electronic Art – ISEA2013, Sydney; Wellcome Collection, London; Museum of Science and Industry, Manchester; Centraal Museum, Utrecht; Powerhouse Museum,Sydney; GV Art gallery, London; Bargehouse, London; Galerija Kapelica, Ljubljana; The Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney; Performance Space, Sydney; Leonardo Electronic Almanac, online; UNSW Galleries, Sydney; Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney; Galerie Patrick Ebensperger, Berlin; Royal Academy of Arts, London; Dianne Tanzer Gallery, Melbourne; The Gordon Museum, London; Mornington Peninsula Regional Gallery, Mornington; Monash Gallery of Art, Melbourne; La Trobe University Museum of Art, Melbourne; Ghent University Museum, Belgium; and FRAC Franche-Comté, France. In 2016 Pynor has forthcoming exhibitions at FACT – Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, Liverpool, UK; THE CUBE, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane; and Siteworks at Bundanon, NSW.
Pynor frequently collaborates with scientists and clinicians in the realisation of her works. In 2015 she undertook a long-term residency at the Max Planck Institute for Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, Germany in the laboratory of regeneration biologist Dr Jochen Rink. She has previously undertaken residencies at The Heart and Lung Transplant Unit, St Vincent’s Hospital, Sydney; SymbioticA, Perth; The Australia Council – London Studio; Performance Space, Sydney; Monash University, Melbourne; Sydney College of the Arts – The University of Sydney; Artists’ Residency Tokyo; Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts, Paris; The Gunnery, Sydney; and The Department of Adolescent Medicine, The Children’sHospital at Westmead, Sydney.
In 2012 Pynor was awarded an Honorary Mention in the Hybrid Arts category of the internationally prestigious Prix Ars Electronica for her collaborative work with Peta Clancy The Body is a Big Place. She has received national awards in Australia including the RBS Emerging Artist Award (2009) and the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award (jointly, 2008). She has received special commendation in numerous national awards in Australia and in the Love Lace International Lace Award (2011).