Marianna Simnett (Essay Films, 2017)Needle & Larynx

Marianna Simnett

Finalist in 2017 for Essay Films

Marianna Simnett’s films are magic-realist morality tales which focus on threats to the health of human beings and our environment. Using surrealist techniques she blends real and imagined events, often performing as a protagonist undergoing significant physical duress; in The Needle and the Larynx (2016) her voice is surgically lowered with Botox whilst she recites a grim parable about gender, nature and artifice.

The ‘sensory overload’ of Simnett’s films is heightened with original music, catchy refrains sung on screen as cautions or laments addressed to the viewer. Her films provoke visceral reactions. During a live adaptation of her video trilogy — The Udder (2014), Blood (2015), Blue Roses (2015) at Serpentine Galleries: Park Nights, 2015 — two audience members fainted.

Recent work includes Worst Gift (2017), a musical fairy tale involving a cast of seven teenage boys undergoing a medical procedure to lower their voice, a real voice surgeon and Simnett as the aggrieved girl who is refused the injection on the basis of her gender; Faint with Light (2016), an immersive audio and light installation which captures the sound emitted from Simnett’s body when she repeatedly fainted by hyperventilating; London Night Tube map cover Wing-sleepers commissioned by Art on the Underground, (2018). Simnett won the Jerwood / FVU Award in 2015 and was shortlisted for the Jarman Award 2017.