An Artist Pushing the Limits of Her Audience

Artnet's Kate Brown speaks with multimedia artist Marianna Simnett about art, violence, and football.

Marianna Simnett, Blue Moon [video still], (2022). Courtesy: the artist and Société, Berlin.

If you’ve seen the artworks of Marianna Simnett, you know that it is not easy to forget them. The multidisciplinary artist who works between film, installation, drawing, painting, sculpture, and even theater, is a world-builder of surreal and sometimes horrific proportions. Her works lodge themselves deep into your psyche with an unsettling amount of imagery, dark humor, and mythologically tinted storylines where animals may become nefarious protagonists, and roadkill might come back to life.

Simnett often deals with the body as a site of pain, control, vulnerability, and intervention. And her artworks may make you squirm or even evoke fear, and you may just find yourself wondering, ‘am I supposed to be watching this?’ I think the answer is yes. While Simnett’s boundary-pushing art may not be for the faint of heart, as viewers it is important to be challenged, roused out of our complacency and our comfort zones, it is one way to become more empathetic.

Simnett has been showing widely at institutions on both sides of the Atlantic. Her film, The Severed Tail, was a major talking point at the 59th Venice Biennale, “The Milk of Dreams.” It tells the tale of a little pig who enters a fetishistic underworld after a farmer snips off her tail.

This coming fall Simnett will be included in Manifesta 15 in Barcelona.  Currently, the artist has a solo exhibition on view at the Hamburger Bahnhof in Berlin. Called Winner, it is part of the official cultural program for the Euro 2024 Soccer Championship, which is being hosted in Germany this year. In this multi-channel video installation Simnett takes on the world’s and rituals of soccer, its fouls, injuries, social dynamics, and hooliganism.

I won’t spoil it for you, but it is definitely soccer like you’ve never seen it before. On top of all that talent and accolades, Simnett is also a classically trained flutist. It’s an instrument that I find compliments her wider art practice perfectly—its fantastical, folkish, a bit eerie, and definitely other-worldly.

On this episode of the Art Angle, Senior Editor Kate Brown speaks to Simnett, who also obliged us by playing the flute at the top of the episode.

All audio excerpts in this episode are included courtesy of Marianna Simnett. 


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