The artist’s residency was scheduled from July to September 2020. Due to the COVID-19 virus outbreak and international travel restrictions, the residency could not be carried out as planned.
Spanning video, installation, performance, sculpture and watercolour, the practice of Marianna Simnett (b.1986, United Kingdom) uses vivid and visceral means to explore the body as a site of transformation. Working with animals, children, organs, and often performing herself, she brings to life radical new worlds filled with untamed thoughts, eerie tales, and unconventional desires. Recent solo exhibitions include CREATURE, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia (2020), LAB RATS, Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland (2019), My Broken Animal, Frans Hals Museum, Netherlands (2019) among others. She is a joint winner of the Paul Hamlyn Award 2020, received the Jerwood / FVU Award in 2015, and was shortlisted for the Jarman Award in 2017.
During the residency, Marianna Simnett aims to pursue her interests in global sleeplessness in the context of Singapore, which a recent study reported to be one of the most sleep-deprived countries in the world. The progressive erosion of sleep is regarded by the artist as a significant factor within contemporary ecological climate. As part of her research, Simnett has also been working with ornithologists who discovered that birds have remarkable capabilities to retain high levels of cognition on little to no sleep and are one of the few species—other than humans—with REM (rapid eye movement) sleep, the phase when dreaming occurs. The artist aims to draw links between sleep patterns and cognitive functions of birds and humans through studying local birds in Singapore while simultaneously engaging with NTU’s innovations in brain-computer interface (BCI) technologies and their relevance to sleep and mental health disorder.
Image credit: Marianna Simnett, The Needle and the Larynx, 2016, SEIZURE installation view at Copenhagen Contemporary, Copenhagen, 2019. Courtesy the artist. Photo by Anders Sune Berg.
Stakes of Conscious(ness)
With national frontiers sealed worldwide and bodies forced into a standstill, it can be all the more relevant to embark onto journeys of the mind and explore different states of consciousness. Which shape(s) does human consciousness take when time unfolds within conditions of spatial confinement? What happens when the body plunges into increasingly immaterial networks and disembodied social relations? Is an emancipated society already inscribed in the deep recesses of our conscious? Stakes of Conscious(ness) brings together works of Danilo Correale (Italy/United States), Liu Yu (Taiwan), and a new film by Marianna Simnett (United Kingdom) specifically produced for this occasion, three artists whose residency at NTU CCA Singapore has been disrupted by the viral pandemic. Each work modulates a unique mindscape and pushes our imagination beyond the boundaries of normative reason, the entrapments of capitalistic development, and the limits of our sensorium.
Curated by Dr Anna Lovecchio, Curator, Residencies
Reverie. On the Liberation from Work. Transition, 2017
HD colour and sound, 20 min. Courtesy the artist.
Developed in collaboration with a hypnotherapist, Reverie. On the Liberation from Work (2017) is a two-part hypnosis exercise that soothes the body and the mind into a state of relaxation wherein “the ease of a post-work society” slowly comes into focus. Through the lull of the voiceover and mesmerising visual aids, Transition releases our mental confines and prompts us on a inward journey towards a future society where work is no longer commanded and humanity is free to dedicate itself to mutual care and collective improvement. Neither a retreat nor an escapist lure, Reverie. On the Liberation from Work rather paves the way for visions of future freedom by eliciting a renewed sense of presence and the empowering awareness that the future is there for us to shape.
The practice of Danilo Correale (b. 1982, Italy/United States) critiques contemporary life and investigates the opacity surrounding complex cultural and economic systems. In recent years, his research revolves around the dichotomy between labour and leisure and the relation between sleep and enforced wakefulness under the neoliberal economic regime. His work has been presented in numerous international group exhibitions and his solo shows include They Will Say I Killed Them, Metropolitan Arts Centre, Belfast, United Kingdom (2019); At Work’s End, Art in General, New York, United States (2017); and Tales of Exhaustion, La Loge, Brussels, Belgium (2016). In 2017, he was awarded both the New York Prize for Italian Young Art and an Associate Research Fellowship at Columbia University.
Somehow I feel relaxed here, 2017
HD colour and sound, 12 min 52 sec. Courtesy the artist.
Taking place within the ruins of Taiwan’s former Zhongxing Paper Factory—built by the Japanese in 1935 and heavily bombed during WWII—Somehow I feel relaxed here (2017) overlaps fragmentary experiences and visual narratives that blend the boundaries between past and present, space and time, sleep and wakefulness. Recounts of World War II air raid survivors, images captured by urban explorers’ handheld cameras, and sequences from online war gaming sessions unfurl along a guided meditation path led by a entrancing voiceover. Through these site-specific and mind-shifting detours, the film draws an imaginary map where the entanglements of historical decay, memory, and disembodied experience chart out different modes of consciousness while also speculating on the status of contemporary corporeality.
Merging fictional stories and historical accounts, the works of Liu Yu (b. 1985, Taiwan) cuts across video, installation, and text to re-contextualize stories of marginalised communities and comment on the intricacies of domineering power structures. Using field work and site-specific methodologies, she reconstructs alternative narratives strung together by fragmented representations of space, history, image, and narration. Among her solo exhibitions are The history of the concave and the convex, Hong-Gah Museum, Taipei, Taiwan (2018) and Several Ways to Believe, Taiwan Academy, Los Angeles, United States (2016). She has recently participated in 2019 Asian Art Biennial, Taichung, Taiwan.
Tito’s Dog, 2020
HD colour and sound, 6 min 56 sec. Courtesy the artist.
What impact does lockdown have on identity when borders are closed and movement is restricted? In this work, produced during the recent global lockdown and performed in Croatian and English, Marianna Simnett enacts the remarkable story of Tito and his dog, Luks. Tito, the former President of Yugoslavia, was a contested symbol of unity in the artist’s childhood memory and this month marks the 40th anniversary of his death. Continuing her investigation of interspecies relationships whilst also confronting her own identity, Simnett uses makeup and prosthetics to transition from human to German Shepherd as she tells a story of survival and animal suicide.
Marianna Simnett (b.1986, United Kingdom) lives and works in London. Her interdisciplinary practice includes video, installation, performance, sculpture and watercolour. Simnett uses vivid and visceral means to explore the body as a site of transformation. Working with animals, children, organs, and often performing herself, she imagines radical new worlds filled with untamed thoughts, strange tales, and desires. Simnett has shown in major museums internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include LAB RATS, Kunsthalle Zürich, Switzerland (2019), My Broken Animal, Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, Netherlands (2019), CREATURE, Institute of Modern Art, Brisbane, Australia (2019), Blood In My Milk, New Museum, New York, United States (2018) among others. She is a joint winner of the Paul Hamlyn Award 2020, receivedthe Jerwood / FVU Award in 2015, and was shortlisted for the Jarman Award in 2017.
Header Image: Danilo Correale, Reverie. On the Liberation from Work. Transition, 2017, film still, 20 min. Courtesy the artist.