British artist Marianna Simnett creates fable-like film, performance, sound and light installations that examine the sense of intimacy yet anxious unfamiliarity we experience with our own bodies, and the means we deploy to control them, both technological and cultural. Simnett’s films unfold from multiple, occasionally impossible perspectives (from within dreams or personifying internal organs), reflecting the fluidity of our identities as they are embodied and performed. Consistently working with untrained actors, many of the individuals Simnett meets through her research become collaborators, performing heightened versions of themselves within the films. Her works often provoke a visceral reaction, featuring unflinching depictions of many commonplace phobias such as needles, cockroaches, blood, and of medical procedures which the artist has herself undergone. They present the body as both monstrous and clinical, combining scientific description with the cathartic fantasy of musicals and horror genres. Simnett writes songs, performed by her cast, that lend an air of innocence and lightness to her densely layered storytelling.
A trained composer and musician, the influence of theatre and classical music on her work endured as she turned to film, installation and performance during her BA at Nottingham Trent University in 2007 and her MA at the Slade School of Art in 2013. Simnett’s work has been the subject of several solo exhibitions including an upcoming exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art (Glasgow, Scotland); Wing-sleepers (Art on the Underground, London, UK) in 2018; Worst Gift, Matt’s Gallery (London, UK) in 2017; Lies, Seventeen Gallery (New York, NY) and Valves Collapse, Seventeen Gallery (London, UK) in 2016; Park Nights, Serpentine Pavilion (London, UK) and Blue Roses, Comar (Isle of Mull, Scotland) in 2015. Her work has also been included in group exhibitions and screenings, most recently at Anthology Film Archives (New York, NY); Bergen Kunsthall (Bergen, Norway); Kunsthalle Bratislava, (Bratislava, Slovakia); Whitechapel Gallery (London, UK) in 2017; the Serpentine Galleries (London, UK); Two Short Night Film Festival (Devon, UK); Contemporary Art Centre (Vilnius, Lithuania); FACT (Liverpool, UK); Art Basel (Hong Kong); Bluecoat (Liverpool, UK) in 2016; Chronus Art Center (Shanghai, China); Jerwood/FVU Award (London, UK and Glasgow, Scotland) in 2015. Simnett was a winner of the Jerwood/FVU Award (2015), the Adrian Carruthers Award (2013) and the William Coldstream Prize (2013). She was shortlisted for the Jarman Award and Paul Hamlyn in 2017.