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CREATURE is the first New Zealand exhibition by Berlin-based artist Marianna Simnett. First presented at Brisbane’s Institute of Modern Art (IMA) in 2020, it surveys her video and sculpture from the last six years, telling wicked tales of transformation. CREATURE is her largest solo show to date.
Simnett has gained global attention for her visceral, theatrical works, which draw on storytelling and folklore conventions. They speak to the relationships we develop with our bodies—involving questions of control and violence, phobia and dysmorphia—as they undergo intervention and transformation.
The show’s centrepiece, Blood in My Milk (2018), is an epic seventy-three-minute, five-channel video installation, featuring a motley cast of insects, children, surgeons, and the artist herself, who perform anxieties surrounding the body. In this disorientating musical, Simnett’s characters are subjected to threats, invasive procedures, and paranoid visions.
The video The Needle and the Larynx (2016) shows 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 after puberty, captures the artist’s own experience as a patient while exposing oppressive systems of violence imposed upon bodies.
In Faint with Light (2016), the artist pushes her body to its limits by repeatedly inducing her own unconsciousness. The sound of her hyperventilating is synced to blinding LEDs, which rise and fall with her breath. The work was made in response to the story of her Jewish-Croatian grandfather, who miraculously escaped execution when he fainted during the Holocaust.
Expanding on the original IMA show, Simnett’s film The Bird Game (2019) is a cautionary tale in which a trickster crow lures a group of innocent children to their deaths.
WARNING CREATURE contains disturbing imagery, including medical procedures. Bright flashing lights may cause discomfort or trigger reactions from those with epilepsy, migraine, or other photosensitive conditions. Viewer discretion advised.
Marianna Simnett: CREATURE is a travelling exhibition organised by the IMA, and curated by Liz Nowell and Jess O’Farrell. The IMA is supported by the Queensland Government through Arts Queensland, the Australian Government through Australia Council for the Arts, and the Visual Arts and Craft Strategy, an initiative of the Australian Federal, State, and Territory Governments.