Fallen (11-17), 2017

Fallen forms part of an extended exploration into the ambiguity of life’s beginnings and endings in the context of chickens raised for human food consumption.

The embryos depicted in this series are contained within the tenuous safety of their amniotic sacs, or fall unfettered through space, entangling in the ruptured and torn remnants of these sacs. Embryos occupy a biologically liminal space, as form emerges from the abstraction of cellular biology. However these embryos also occupy a culturally transitional space as they fall from the maternal space of the egg into spaces of human control and manipulation. The series juxtaposes innocence and our reflexive attachment to the potentiality of the embryo, with these embryos’ thwarted potentiality.

The work was developed at The Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, Dresden, in the laboratory of regeneration biologist Dr Jochen Rink. Fallen extends the previous long-term engagement Pynor had in Rink’s laboratory during development of installation The End is a Distant Memory (2016).


Helen Pynor is an artist whose practice explores philosophically and experientially ambiguous zones, such as the life-death boundary. Her work is informed by in-depth residencies in scientific 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 also frequently collaborates with members of the broader community whose embodied experiences connect with the themes of her work.

Pynor has exhibited nationally and internationally including at the National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts; The National Centre for Contemporary Art, Russia; Science Gallery Dublin; Science Gallery London; FACT, Liverpool UK; Wellcome Collection, London; and the Australian Centre for Photography. She has received an Honorary Mention at Prix Ars Electronica, Austria, and national awards in Australia. Pynor holds a Bachelor of Science (1st Class Hons), a Bachelor of Visual Arts, and a PhD.

Fallen (11-17) 2017
Archival pigment prints, face mounted on glass
129 cm x 30 cm each

Artist: Helen Pynor
Camera: Jürgen Jeibmann, Dresden
Retouching & Printing: High Res Digital, Sydney
Framing: Graphic Art Mount, Sydney

Courtesy of the artist and Dominik Mersch Gallery, Sydney. Developed with the assistance of Dr Jochen Rink, Group Leader, Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and
Genetics, Dresden. This project has been assisted by the Australian Government through the Australia Council for the Arts, its arts funding and advisory body.