FACT opens 2019 programme with a major exhibition of artworks by female artists

Top image: Ericka Beckman, Hiatus (video still), 1999/2015 © the artist

FACT opens 2019 programme with a major exhibition of artworks by female artists

What can fairy tales tell us about modern day society? A new exhibition opening at FACT Liverpool on 29 March 2019 will feature artworks by Ericka Beckman and Marianna Simnett – two female artists who both use technology and classic elements of fairy tale storytelling to explore images of the female body in modern day society.

Launching FACT’s 2019 season focusing on identity, representation and gender, the exhibition will bring together works by the eminent American filmmaker Ericka Beckman as well as London-based artist Marianna Simnett, who both present strikingly different forms of visual storytelling, but equally make the female body the main player in the multi-layered fantasy worlds they create. Their works are at once alluring and repelling, sensual and troubling.

Lesley Taker, Exhibitions Manager at FACT, said: “There couldn’t be a more fitting pairing than Beckman and Simnett to open a year focusing on work produced by female-identifying artists and gender identities. Their work deconstructs and subverts grisly, aggressive fairy tales from many cultures as well as reclaiming traditionally ‘male’ spaces, in favour of a more feminist mythology. This exhibition captures the spirit of their form of subversive undermining, of dismantling from within, and ultimately stands as a refusal to yield to patriarchal systems which exist to conform, control and conquer.”

Ericka Beckman uses the imagery and style of early computer games – as well as the rigid structures and rules of gaming – in her works. Cinderella (1986) and Hiatus (1999/2015) will be on display in the exhibition. Both films depict female characters who are seen never fully succeeding in satisfying the demands of the “game” they are in, providing a critique of the limitations and demands placed on women in society.

Marianna Simnett combines mythology and surgery to create tales of morality. Themes of corruption and innocence depict illness and disease, commenting on gender divides in our cultures. FACT will display two films by Simnett – The Udder (2014) and Blood (2015), as well as the sound and light installation, Faint with Light (2016). Her films include children singing cruel playground chants, jarring with uncompromising close-ups of surgery and blood, while in Faint with Light (2016) we hear Simnett closing her airway and hyperventilating, inducing her body to faint repeatedly.

The exhibition will be accompanied by an extensive public programme exploring gender identities, female archetypes and fairy tales. A series of talks, live events, films and workshops – developed in collaboration with local partners and FACT’s Learning groups – will form a dynamic scholarly level programme through which to explore, understand and act on these topics and conversations.

This major exhibition follows the success of 2018’s exhibition Broken Symmetries, a collaboration with CERN, and the immersive installation at Toxteth Reservoir, AURORA.