The Needle and the Larynx

2016

Simnett, Marianna
Marianna Simnett works with moving image, installation and performance. Her works examine the sense of intimacy as well as alienation we experience with our own bodies, featuring unflinching depictions of many commonplace phobias such as needles, cockroaches, blood and medical procedures. Simnett also writes songs that are performed by her cast, which lend an air of innocence and lightness to her densely layered storytelling. The Needle and the Larynx (2016) documents the artist in the hands of a voice surgeon as he injects her cricothyroid muscle with Botox, effectively paralysing the muscle and lowering her voice. It is a procedure usually done for men who don't perceive their voices to be low enough. In slow-motion, we watch the surgeon fill a syringe, place electrodes on the artist's neck, and plunge a needle into her throat. A multipart soundtrack voiced by Simnett recounts a fable of a girl who wants her voice lowered "so that... it is closer to the groans outside that keep me turning in the night" and threatens the reluctant doctor with a plague of mosquitos should he refuse. Told over a gradually building score of cello and a swelling pitch of mosquitos, the story is interwoven with a melancholy pop song and a short history of Botox. In her newly deepened voice, we hear the artist speak forty-eight hours later of the unexpected trauma of the procedure and the weakness she is experiencing. Across her practice, Simnett’s performances seek to draw out an empathy on the part of the viewer.
  • Artwork Details: running time: 15 minutes 17seconds
  • Edition: 2 of 5 + 2 AP
  • Material description: Digital HD video with surround sound
  • Credit line: © the artist
  • Theme: Undefined
  • Medium: Film and Audio Visual
  • Accession number: ACC3/2017

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