Marianna Simnett: Blood In My Milk
September 4 2018 – January 6 2019
In 2018, the New Museum presented “Blood In My Milk,” a new film and sound installation by Marianna Simnett (b. 1986, Kingston-upon-Thames, United Kingdom) and the artist’s first institutional solo exhibition in the US, curated by Associate Curator Helga Christoffersen.
In her film-, light-, and sound-based work, Simnett makes use of narrative structures and fantastical modes of storytelling, like fables, to guide a cast of characters through events that expose the subtle mechanics of violence and control that surround us. Composed of new multi-channel edits of four of Simnett’s most important works to date—The Udder (2014), Blood (2015), Blue Roses (2015), and Worst Gift (2017)— “Blood In My Milk” surveyed the artist’s filmic universe and a continuation of her ongoing investigation of anxieties around the body and the self. Experienced as a single storyline unfolding across five screens and featuring never-before-shown material, this new work chronicled Simnett’s exploration of organs, body parts, and infection through the lens of medical treatment and procedures.
A tour de force of the past five years of Simnett’s work, “Blood In My Milk” constituted the artist’s first encompassing visual epic, bringing her many characters in dialogue with one another across time and space—medical experts and scientists perform routine injections and operations alongside children’s games of hide-and-seek, farmers carry out disinfection rituals and cockroaches turn into biobots— to construct paranoid tales of sickness and transformation, often with Simnett herself as the protagonist. Accompanied by a new soundtrack, “Blood In My Milk” conveyed a sense of discomfort with sterile environments and the invisible alien substances in our bodies that medical and industrial procedures aim to conceal.