CREATURE is the first exhibition in Australia by London-based artist Marianna Simnett. Surveying the last six years of Simnett’s practice, the exhibition presents three of her most significant film and installation works; Blood In My Milk (2018), Faint with Light (2016), and The Needle and the Larynx (2016), together for the first time.
Simnett has gained global attention for her visceral and theatrical works, which draw upon conventions of storytelling and folklore to explore the body as a site of transition. Often featuring the artist performing alongside a cast of non-actors, Simnett’s work speaks to the relationships we develop with our bodies—shifting between control and violence, phobia, and dysmorphia—as they undergo intervention and transformation.
The centerpiece of CREATURE is Blood In My Milk, an epic 73 minute, five-channel video installation, involving a motley cast of insects, children, surgeons, and the artist herself, who perform anxieties surrounding the body. In this disorientating musical tale, Simnett’s characters are subjected to threats, invasive procedures, and paranoiac visions which explode into hallucinatory realms.
In the sculptural installation Faint with Light, the artist pushes her body to its limits by repeatedly inducing her own unconsciousness. The sound of Simnett’s hyperventilation is synced to ultrabright LEDs which rise and fall with her breath. Faint with Light was made in response to Simnett’s Jewish-Croatian grandfather who missed a bullet in the Holocaust when he fainted during a mass execution.
Set against a fable of a young girl’s revenge on a surgeon, The Needle and the Larynx, shows across one excruciatingly long, slow motion shot, the artist receiving an injection of Botox into her larynx to lower the pitch of her voice. This procedure, usually undertaken by men to attain a deeper voice post puberty, captures the artist’s own experience as a patient whilst exposing repressive systems of violence imposed upon our bodies.
Across these three major works, Simnett invites audiences to explore fluid bodily states in an increasingly interventionist world. Through wicked tales and cautionary fables, the psychophysical nature of Simnett’s CREATURE will take hold and remain with you long after you leave.
Please note: CREATURE contains graphic content, including medical procedures. One artwork includes bright flashing lights which may cause discomfort or potentially trigger a reaction for those with epilepsy, migraines or other photosensitive conditions. Viewer discretion is advised.