SOCIÉTÉ

Marianna Simnett

Installation view, The Severed Tail, 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, The Milk of Dreams, curated by Cecilia Alemani, 2022, Photo by Roberto Marossi

Installation view, The Severed Tail, 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, The Milk of Dreams, curated by Cecilia Alemani, 2022, Photo by Roberto Marossi


Marianna Simnett is a multidisciplinary visual artist living and working in Berlin. Simnett uses vivid and visceral means to explore the body as a site of transformation. In psychologically charged works that challenge both herself and the viewer, Simnett imagines radical new worlds filled with untamed thoughts, strange tales and desires.

Marianna Simnett (b. 1986) lives and works in Berlin. Her work has been exhibited internationally in solo exhibitions at venues including City Gallery Wellington, Wellington (2020); IMA, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane (2019); Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem (2019); Kunsthalle Zürich, Zürich (2019); MMK, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt (2018); The New Museum, New York (2018) and Zabludowicz Collection, London (2018). Selected recent group exhibitions include the 59th Venice Biennale: The Milk of Dreams (2022); Espressioni: The Epilogue, Castello di Rivoli, Turin (2022); Prize of the Böttcherstraße, Kunsthalle Bremen, Bremen (2022); British Art Show 9, various cities (2021); A Fire in my Belly, Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin (2021); Unprecedented Times, Kunsthaus Bregenz (2020); and The Body Electric, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2019). Her work The Severed Tail was also recently shown at The 66th BFI London Film Festival, British Film Institute, London (2022).


The Severed Tail

59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, The Milk of Dreams, curated by Cecilia Alemani

Installation view, The Severed Tail, 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, The Milk of Dreams, 2022, Photo: Roberto Marossi

Installation view, The Severed Tail, 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, The Milk of Dreams, 2022, Photo: Roberto Marossi

Marianna Simnett’s animal and human protagonists are “always becoming something other than themselves.” Drawing upon the mythic structures of fairy tales and fables, her new video installation The Severed Tail explores the tail as a lost link between animal and human: a reminder of our “animal selves” that is reclaimed in the film through extreme episodes of fetish and play. Simnett takes the commonly practiced, if partially outlawed, procedure of animal tail docking through frenetic visual and narrative subversions to open up questions about the conventions of species, gender, and our relationship to others. The Severed Tail shifts between human and non-human actors to tell the story of a piglet’s radical journey through different layers of fetish worlds. The metamorphic and ultimately cathartic nature of this odyssey is amplified through the work’s spatial dimensions: the constantly shifting focal point of three asynchronous screens mirrors its protagonist’s sense of bewilderment and wonder, while a plush sculptural seating element—an outsized tail that snakes through the exhibition space—gestures towards what has been lost. A tale of transformation and desire, The Severed Tail delves into the slippages between species—and their mutual transformations—arguing for hybridity as a foundational state of being.

Installation view, The Severed Tail, 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, The Milk of Dreams, 2022, Photo: Roberto Marossi

Installation view, The Severed Tail, 59th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia, The Milk of Dreams, 2022, Photo: Roberto Marossi

Video still, Marianna Simnett, The Severed Tail, 2022, 20 min 30 sec, Edition of 5 + 2AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, The Severed Tail, 2022, 20 min 30 sec, Edition of 5 + 2AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, The Severed Tail, 2022, 20 min 30 sec, Edition of 5 + 2AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, The Severed Tail, 2022, 20 min 30 sec, Edition of 5 + 2AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, The Severed Tail, 2022, 20 min 30 sec, Edition of 5 + 2AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, The Severed Tail, 2022, 20 min 30 sec, Edition of 5 + 2AP

 

OGRESS

Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

The ogress is a shape-shifter. A devourer. She entices, lures, and captures. In fairy tales and folklore, the ogress is a voracious monster who deceives men and torments children in her quest to ravish them whole. Marianna Simnett wields the ogress’ insatiable hunger as a radical force that allows for a porosity with other beings and technologies. Simnett’s video, sound, watercolor, and sculptural works intertwine personal and mythological worlds to delve into our innate drive towards collection and collectivity. OGRESS revels in the mutual metamorphosis that occurs through our psychologically charged attachment to the objects we possess—and which in turn possess us.

Coursing through the show is the myth of Athena crafting the first flute from a deer bone. While enthralled with her creation, she was mocked by the other gods; as she played, her cheeks puffed out and her face turned blue. Humiliated, Athena cast the flute away and cursed anyone who touched it. Simnett warps this myth to probe the links between transformation and possession. A series of large-scale watercolors reclaim Athena’s horror at her transfigured face. Woodwind music lilts throughout the gallery, luring visitors to the garden where a multi-headed skeletal deer rears on its hind legs.

“In myth, women’s boundaries are pliant, porous, mutable,” the poet and essayist Anne Carson writes in her collection Men in the Off Hours. “The women of mythology regularly lose their form in monstrosity.” The characters that appear in OGRESS don’t succumb to monstrosity but embrace it. Metamorphoses are willed, not suffered—a tendency exhibited by mutant casts of Simnett’s own form. In one, a reclining figure speaks through the many mouths that riddle their body: jeering, grimacing, groaning, slack-mouthed. Another figure crouches over a large lightbox scanner, in thrall to their own continuously generated image like a techno-narcissus. Underlying OGRESS is the conviction that “archaic” tools like the flute are themselves a form of technology. The Athena myth mutates once more in a video generated by a custom-built AI model, trained on videos of Simnett playing the flute. A glitching female figure, trapped inside technicolor blue woods, continually morphs, her face occasionally coalescing to resemble Simnett’s own. If a monster’s body is necessarily a social body1, its form determined by accumulations of cultural anxiety, obsession, and desire, then Simnett’s OGRESS celebrates “the promises of monsters.”

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

Installation view, OGRESS, Société, Berlin, 2022

POSSESS, perfomance during NFT release, Société, Berlin, 2022

 

Art Basel Unlimited 2022

curated by Giovanni Carmine

Installation view, Art Basel Unlimited 2022

Installation view, Art Basel Unlimited 2022

Installation view, Art Basel Unlimited 2022

Installation view, Art Basel Unlimited 2022

Installation view, Art Basel Unlimited 2022

Installation view, Art Basel Unlimited 2022

Installation view, Art Basel Unlimited 2022

Installation view, Art Basel Unlimited 2022

Installation view, Art Basel Unlimited 2022

Installation view, Art Basel Unlimited 2022

 

Blood In My Milk

Dark Mofo, Hobart, Tasmania, 2022

Installation view, Blood In My Milk, Dark Mofo, Hobart, Tasmania, 2022

Installation view, Blood In My Milk, Dark Mofo, Hobart, Tasmania, 2022

Installation view, Blood In My Milk, Dark Mofo, Hobart, Tasmania, 2022

Installation view, Blood In My Milk, Dark Mofo, Hobart, Tasmania, 2022

Installation view, Blood In My Milk, Dark Mofo, Hobart, Tasmania, 2022

Installation view, Blood In My Milk, Dark Mofo, Hobart, Tasmania, 2022

 

ESPRESSIONI CON FRAZIONI, Prayers for Roadkill

Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli Torino, 2022, curated by Carolyn Christov-Bakargiev, Marcella Beccaria, Marianna Vecellio and Fabio Cafagna with curatorial coordination by Anna Musini

Installation view, Prayers for Roadkill, Espressioni con frazioni, Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli Torino, 2022

Installation view, Prayers for Roadkill, Espressioni con frazioni, Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli Torino, 2022

The installation Prayers for Roadkill draws its title from a line in Adrian Piper’s journal where she expresses empathy and fascination with the micro-violence that unfolds beneath the wheels of an automobile. In Simnett’s stop motion animation film and intricate sculptures depicting hybrid human-animal creatures, she wields the aesthetic of vintage children’s television programming, soft play areas, and modernist asylums to explore the emotional and material entanglements of love and cruelty. To create the characters in her film, Simnett not only literally reanimates roadkill but reclaims – and thereby empowers – the image of the animal to plumb the depths of some of the darkest, most fundamental aspects of being human.

Installation view, Prayers for Roadkill, Espressioni con frazioni, Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli Torino, 2022

Installation view, Prayers for Roadkill, Espressioni con frazioni, Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli Torino, 2022

Installation view, Prayers for Roadkill, Espressioni con frazioni, Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli Torino, 2022

Installation view, Prayers for Roadkill, Espressioni con frazioni, Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli Torino, 2022

Installation view, Prayers for Roadkill, Espressioni con frazioni, Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli Torino, 2022

Installation view, Prayers for Roadkill, Espressioni con frazioni, Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli Torino, 2022

Installation view, Prayers for Roadkill, Espressioni con frazioni, Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli Torino, 2022

Installation view, Prayers for Roadkill, Espressioni con frazioni, Castello di Rivoli Museo d'Arte Contemporanea, Rivoli Torino, 2022

Film Still, Prayers for Roadkill, 2022

Film Still, Prayers for Roadkill, 2022

Film Still, Prayers for Roadkill, 2022

Film Still, Prayers for Roadkill, 2022

 

Return of the Herd

Arcadia Friesland, Leuwaarden, 2022, curated by Hans den Hartog Jager

Installation view, Return of the Herd, Arcadia Friesland, 2022

Installation view, Return of the Herd, Arcadia Friesland, 2022

Installation view, Return of the Herd, Arcadia Friesland, 2022

Installation view, Return of the Herd, Arcadia Friesland, 2022

Installation view, Return of the Herd, Arcadia Friesland, 2022

Installation view, Return of the Herd, Arcadia Friesland, 2022

 

The Bird Game

A Higher Calling, White Space Beijing, 2021, curated by Shen Chen

Installation view, The Bird Game, A Higher Calling, White Space Beijing, 2021

Installation view, The Bird Game, A Higher Calling, White Space Beijing, 2021

A "calling" originally refers to a person, as a medium, being guided by the authority of some higher will, wisdom, or power, whose consciousness receiving divine will, hitherto giving one's words and actions a more self-evident justification and irrefutable legitimacy. This notion and literature on the "calling" can be found across traditional cultures around the world, such as "effectual calling," "Tí Hú Guàn Dǐng (being filled with wisdom)," or "heavenly mandate", etc.

Despite living in a generally secularized world today, people's "mystical" experience of a "calling" has not disappeared due to fading religious dominance. On the contrary, people often cling to believing in this irresistible experience beyond sufficient reason, resulting in contradictory words and actions that lead to conflicts and crises.

In Marianna Simnett's The Bird Game, the protagonists are tempted by crows to go on a quest to "never sleep again," will they win the game or become the accomplices of the evil one? The end seems unforeseeable, but only transformations are eternal.

Video still, Marianna Simnett, The Bird Game, 2019, 20 minutes, Edition 3 of 5 + 2 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, The Bird Game, 2019, 20 minutes, Edition 3 of 5 + 2 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, The Bird Game, 2019, 20 minutes, Edition 3 of 5 + 2 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, The Bird Game, 2019, 20 minutes, Edition 3 of 5 + 2 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, The Bird Game, 2019, 20 minutes, Edition 3 of 5 + 2 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, The Bird Game, 2019, 20 minutes, Edition 3 of 5 + 2 AP

 

A Fire in my Belly

Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin 2021, curated by Lisa Long, Eugene Yiu Nam Cheung and Julia Stoschek

Installation view, Faint with Light, A Fire in my Belly, Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin, 2021

Installation view, Faint with Light, A Fire in my Belly, Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin, 2021

Faint with Light is an audio and light installation which records the artist deliberately inducing her own unconsciousness through a self-taught method involving hyperventilation. Simnett’s breath is monitored by a blinding wall of LED lights which rise and fall in tandem with her recurring collapse and revival.

The work was inspired by her late Jewish-Croatian grandfather who survived a mass execution during the Holocaust when he fainted in a firing line. Simnett reclaims the gesture of fainting, historically considered a symptom of hysteria, as a form of rapture, empowerment and survival.

Simnett is known for her visceral works, which challenge the ways bodies are perceived and imagined. Faint with Light is one of her most iconic and powerful works, and has shown in major museums internationally. The vulnerability and intimacy of the sounds and the aggressive brightness of the lights through each cycle of fainting produce a physical effect that is both dazzling and disturbing.

Installation view, Faint with Light, A Fire in my Belly, Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin, 2021

Installation view, Faint with Light, A Fire in my Belly, Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin, 2021

Episode Two: Marianna Simnett by UNRELIABLE NARRATOR

Episode Two: Marianna Simnett by UNRELIABLE NARRATOR

 

Bird's scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth, but sadly we don't speak bird

Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, 2022

Performance documentation, Bird's scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth, but sadly we don't speak bird, 2020, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Photo: Marc Pricop

Performance documentation, Bird's scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth, but sadly we don't speak bird, 2020, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Photo: Marc Pricop

Performance documentation, Bird's scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth, but sadly we don't speak bird, 2020, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Photo: Marc Pricop

Performance documentation, Bird's scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth, but sadly we don't speak bird, 2020, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Photo: Marc Pricop

Performance documentation, Bird's scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth, but sadly we don't speak bird, 2020, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Photo: Marc Pricop

Performance documentation, Bird's scream at the top of their lungs in horrified hellish rage every morning at daybreak to warn us all of the truth, but sadly we don't speak bird, 2020, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Photo: Marc Pricop

 

Hyena and Swan in the Midst of Sexual Congress

Sadie Coles HQ, London, 2019, curated by Charlie Fox

Installation view, Hyena and Swan in the Midst of Sexual Congress, Sadie Coles HQ, London, 2019

Installation view, Hyena and Swan in the Midst of Sexual Congress, Sadie Coles HQ, London, 2019

Installation view, Hyena and Swan in the Midst of Sexual Congress, Sadie Coles HQ, London, 2019

Installation view, Hyena and Swan in the Midst of Sexual Congress, Sadie Coles HQ, London, 2019

Installation view, Hyena and Swan in the Midst of Sexual Congress, Sadie Coles HQ, London, 2019

Installation view, Hyena and Swan in the Midst of Sexual Congress, Sadie Coles HQ, London, 2019

Installation view, Hyena and Swan in the Midst of Sexual Congress, Sadie Coles HQ, London, 2019

Installation view, Hyena and Swan in the Midst of Sexual Congress, Sadie Coles HQ, London, 2019

 

Blood in my Milk

Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt, 2019, curated by Susanne Pfeffer

Installation view, Blood in my Milk, Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt, 2019

Installation view, Blood in my Milk, Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt, 2019

Installation view, Blood in my Milk, Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt, 2019

Installation view, Blood in my Milk, Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt, 2019

Installation view, Blood in my Milk, Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt, 2019

Installation view, Blood in my Milk, Museum für Moderne Kunst Frankfurt, 2019

BOOKLET

Video still, Marianna Simnett, Blood in my milk, 2018, 73 minutes, Edition of 5 + 5 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, Blood in my milk, 2018, 73 minutes, Edition of 5 + 5 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, Blood in my milk, 2018, 73 minutes, Edition of 5 + 5 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, Blood in my milk, 2018, 73 minutes, Edition of 5 + 5 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, Blood in my milk, 2018, 73 minutes, Edition of 5 + 5 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, Blood in my milk, 2018, 73 minutes, Edition of 5 + 5 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, Blood in my milk, 2018, 73 minutes, Edition of 5 + 5 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, Blood in my milk, 2018, 73 minutes, Edition of 5 + 5 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, Blood in my milk, 2018, 73 minutes, Edition of 5 + 5 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, Blood in my milk, 2018, 73 minutes, Edition of 5 + 5 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, Blood in my milk, 2018, 73 minutes, Edition of 5 + 5 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, Blood in my milk, 2018, 73 minutes, Edition of 5 + 5 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, Blood in my milk, 2018, 73 minutes, Edition of 5 + 5 AP

Video still, Marianna Simnett, Blood in my milk, 2018, 73 minutes, Edition of 5 + 5 AP

Solo exhibitions and duo exhibitions, Screenings

  • 2022

    OGRESS, Société, Berlin

    THE MILK OF DREAMS, 59th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Venice, Italy

    Espressioni, The Epilgue, Castello di Rivoli, Turin

    DARK MOFO, Video Festival, Hobart

    Prize of the Böttcherstraße, Kunsthalle Bremen, Bremen

    Videoart at Midnight, artists‘ cinema project, Berlin

  • 2021

    Uniqlo Tate Lates: Night In, an artist-led programme organized in occasion of the exhibition “Bruce Nauman”, Tate, London

    CREATURE, City Gallery Wellington, Wellington

  • 2020

    CREATURE, IMA, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane

  • 2019

    LAB RATS, Kunsthalle Zürich, Zürich

    Bits of girls left out to dry, bits of boys left out to die, Disappearing Berlin, Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin

    My Broken Animal, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem

    Marianna Simnett & Ericka Beckman, FACT, Liverpool

    SEIZURE, Copenhagen Contemporary, Copenhagen

  • 2018

    Screening and Q&A with Hans Ulrich Obrist and Claude Adjil, LOOP Festival, Barcelona

    Marianna Simnett, Museum für Moderne Kunst, Frankfurt

    Athens Biennale 2018: ANTI, Athens

    Blood In My Milk, The New Museum, New York

    The Udder. Introduced by Esther Leslie, Vdrome, www.vdrome.org

    The Midden, The Cowles Center for Dance and the Performing Arts, Minneapolis

    Marianna Simnett & Ericka Beckman, Zabludowicz Collection, London

    Wing-sleepers, London Night Tube map & poster design, Art on the Underground, London

  • 2017

    Worst Gift, Matt’s Gallery, London

  • 2016

    Lies, Seventeen, New York

    Valves Collapse, Seventeen, London

  • 2015

    Blue Roses, Park Nights, Serpentine Pavilion, London

  • 2014

    Marianna Simnett, Acme Project Space, London

Group exhibitions, Screenings

  • 2022

    Corridor, ELDERS, Kortrijk

    Chrysalis, The Butterfly Dream, Centre d’Art Contemporain Genève

    British Art Show 9, Wolverhampton

    Espressioni, The Epilgue, Castello di Rivoli, Turin

    Interspecies/ and other others, Abbotsford Convent Pecinct, Abbotsford, Canada

  • 2021

    A Higher Calling, White Space, Beijing

    Dancing is What We Make of Falling 2, OGR, Officine Grandi Riparazioni, Turin

    FIGURE/S: drawing after Bellmer, The Drawing Room, London

    British Art Show 9, Aberdeen, Wolverhampton, Manchester, Plymouth

    Studio Berlin, Berghain, Berlin

    The Dreamers, 58th October Salon exhibition, Belgrade

    The Holding Environment, Bonner Kunstverein, Bonn

    A Fire in My Belly, Julia Stoschek Collection, Berlin

  • 2020

    Beyond the Pain, Stadt Sindelfingen, Stuttgart

    Participation Mystique, Ming Contemporary Art Museum, Shanghai

    Unprecedented Times, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Bregenz

    Me, Family, MUDAM, Grand Duke Jean Museum of Modern Art, Luxembourg

  • 2019

    It’s Urgent! – Part II, Luma Westbau, Zürich

    The Body Electric, YBCA, San Francisco

    Without Voice, Maison Conti Institut d’art contemporain Ange Leccia, Oletta

    My Head Is A Haunted House, Sadie Coles, London

    Straying From The Line, Schinkel Pavillon, Berlin

    The Body Electric, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis

    The Violence of Gender, Tai Kwun Contemporary, Hong Kong

  • 2018

    The Needle & The Larynx, Channel 4 Random Acts, UK TV

    Health Show II, Skin.Cells, A.I.R. Gallery, New York

  • 2017

    MFJ65 Launch, Anthology Film Archives, New York

    Brace Brace, 29 Percy Street, London

    Borealis Festival, Bergen Kunsthall, Bergen

    Possibility of Preserving, Kunsthalle Bratislava, Bratislava

    Dark Water – A night of performance and screenings programmed by Tai Shani & A – Z (Anne Duffau), Southwark Park Galleries, London