The Leather Landscape
by Patricia Piccinini (2003)
In my work I try to present modern day allegories – legends or parables – that reflect on contemporary culture. Just as with classic parables, they start to live a life of their own. I try not to make didactic work; work that tries to tell people what they should think. Instead, I am trying to provide my audience with material to think about, and hopefully discuss with others, and to give them another way to look at developments in our society.
I don't really mind what conclusions people come to, so long as they are considered. However, there is one example of a work of mine that was really taken out of its context in a way I do not like. An image from my work The Leather Landscape was circulated around almost the entire muslim world. It was used to illustrate a hoax story about a girl from Yemen who was listening to pop music. The story goes that her mother gave her a Qur’an, saying she should spend her time reading that. When the girl refused and threw the Qur’an on the ground, she was turned into the creature in the picture by a furious Allah. The story claimed that the image was a photo of this girl. I really was offended by this, since it completely turned around my message. In the original work, I wanted to show a mutual affection between the creature and the child. In the islamist hoax that was made of it, the creature was presented as something to be despised. The loving relationship, the essence of the work, was completely gone.