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Marianna Simnett: Online: MattFlix 15–29 May 2020 | Worst Gift 6 September–22 October 2017 | Editions | Artist’s Website

Marianna Simnett | Worst Gift | 6 September–22 October 2017, Wed–Sun 12–6pm | Matt’s Gallery, 65 Decima Street, London, SE1 4QR

Marianna Simnett, Worst Gift, 2017. Installation shot. Image by Jonathan Bassett. Image courtesy of the artist and Matt’s Gallery.
Press Information
Matt’s Gallery is pleased to present Worst Gift, a new film installation by Marianna Simnett. Comprising video, liquid, light and sound, Worst Gift continues Simnett’s ongoing exploration of female subjectivity and bodily integrity as they relate to the power dynamics of the medical profession.

Worst Gift is set in an alternate world in which a voice surgeon (played by real-life surgeon and singer Dr Declan Costello) injects prepubescent boys with a substance to lower their voices. Shot in a Botox factory and theatrical surgery, the film follows a female protagonist (played by the artist) as she ventures on a mission to obtain the substance refused to her by the surgeon.

Soundtracked by Marianna Simnett, Lucinda Chua and Leo Chadburn, Worst Gift combines elements of fairy tales and musicals to create an unsettling sound world, at once invitingly familiar and acutely unnerving. Punctuated by worm-curses, love songs, and dream visions, Worst Gift charts a hallucinatory journey of transformation.

Needles are a central motif in Worst Gift. These ambiguous objects are desired and feared in equal measure; they evoke the violence of penetration and the possibility of healing, mosquito stings and surgeons’ cures. Worst Gift extends the needle motif into the physical space of the gallery. Arranged on the ceiling, hundreds of needles illuminate in rhythmic counterpoint to the narrative unfolding on screen.

Worst Gift is a sequel to Simnett’s previous video work, The Needle and the Larynx (2016). In the earlier film, a surgeon injects the artist’s vocal cords with Botox. The physical changes the procedure brings (Simnett’s voice lowered in pitch as a result of the injection) triggers an exploration of infection, gender, perversion, desire, and illness. In Worst Gift, these themes are heightened and intensified. Simnett confronts the viewer with a fantastically strange yet viscerally affecting world.

Accompanying the exhibition will be a new whitebook, free to visitors and featuring a text by Charlie Fox.

Download the Press Release.

For further information or visual material please contact us on 020 7207 1350 or email

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Worst Gift is commissioned by Matt’s Gallery and funded by Wellcome and Arts Council England.


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Born in London, UK, 1986. Lives and works in London. Studied Slade School of Fine Art, MA Fine Art Media, 2011-2013; Nottingham Trent University, BA Fine Art, 2004-2007 Selected One-Person Exhibitions, Performances & Screenings 2016 Lies, Seventeen, New York; Valves Collapse, Seventeen, London 2015 Blue Roses, Park Nights, Serpentine Pavilion, London; Blue Roses, Comar Isle of Mull, Scotland 2014 Marianna Simnett, Acme Project Space, London Selected Group Exhibitions, Performances & Screenings 2017 BRACE BRACE, 29 Percy Street, London; Performing Gender, BACKLIT Gallery, Nottingham; Essay Film Now, Whitechapel Gallery, London; Dark Water // The Dead of Night, CGP Gallery, Dilston Grove, London 2016 Miracle Marathon, Serpentine Galleries, London; Two Short Nights Film Festival, Exeter Phoenix, Devon; The Morality Reflex, CAC, Vilnius; Toxic Womanhood, FACT, Liverpool; Open Source Festival, Gillett Square, London; Videotape, Art Basel, Hong Kong; Me, Inc., Rotwand Gallery, Zurich; Left Hand to Back of Head, Object Held Against Right Thigh, Bluecoat, Liverpool 2015 Against Guest/Host Dispositions, CAC, China; Both Sides Now, various venues, Hong Kong & China; What Will They See of Me?, Jerwood / Film and Video Umbrella Award, Jerwood Space, London and CCA, Glasgow; Seeing Hearing, Lodge, Chicago 2014 The Waste Land Trilogy: Sweet Thames Run Softly, various venues, London; Selected 4, videoclub, various venues, UK; What Will They See of Me?, Jerwood / Film and Video Umbrella Award, Jerwood Space, London and CCA, Glasgow Residencies & Awards 2017 Jarman Award shortlist 2016 Arts Foundation Fellowship in Essay Filmmaking Nomination; Paul Hamlyn Award shortlist 2015 Jerwood / Film and Video Umbrella Award; Selected IV – FLAMIN / videoclub 2013 William Coldstream Prize; Adrian Carruthers Award 2009 Biennale of Young Artists

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2017 Melvin Harper, Syringes and Mosquitoes, Millennium Film Journal, issue 65, April 2017; Jeffrey Kastner, Marianna Simnett, Artforum, March 2017; Sam Thorne, Marianna Simnett: Acts of Disappearance, Mousse Magazine, issue 57, February–March 2017; Martha Scwendener, What to See in New York Art Galleries This Week, New York Times, 5 January 2017; Goings on about town: Marianna Simnett, The New Yorker, 16 January 2017; Wendy Vogel, Critics’ Picks: Marianna Simnett, Artforum, January 2017 2016 Charlie Fox, 2016 Highlights: Charlie Fox, Frieze, 5 December 2016; Marianna Simnett at Seventeen Gallery, New York, Blouin Artinfo, 29 December 2016; Jessica Caroline, Trauma, Resistance: The Work of Marianna Simnett and Sophia Hewson, Filthy Dreams, 9 December 2016; Annie Godfrey Larmon, Marianna Simnett: Lies (exhibition catalogue), Seventeen Gallery; Ben Eastham, In Focus: Marianna Simnett, Frieze, issue 176, January–February 2016; Patrick Langley, The Fainting Game, exhibition catalogue, Valves Collapse: Marianna Simnett, Seventeen Gallerym, 2016; 2015 Giulia Smith, Marianna Simnett talks about her films, AQNB, August 2015; Alice Butler, Leaky Containers, Jerwood; Beverley Knowles, Jerwood/FVU Awards: What Will They See of Me?, This Is Tomorrow, March 2015; Judit Bailón, Interview with Marianna Simnett, Nombre, 16 March 2015; Interview with Jerwood/FVU Award Winner, Marianna Simnett, Aesthetica Art Magazine, 13 March 2015; What Will They See of Me? Jerwood / FVU Award 2015, Jerwood Charitable Foundation and Film and Video Umbrella (FVU), London, 2015 2014 Patrick Langley, Marianna Simnett, Acme Project Space, September 2014; Sam Solnick, Got Milk? Marianna Simnett’s Short Film The Udder, Glasgow Review of Books, July 2014; Shama Khanna, The real protagonist is the udder… Jerwood Visual Arts Blog, March 2014; The Catlin Guide, 2014.

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