Ericka Beckman and Marianna Simnett at FACT

Sara Jaspan, Exhibitions Editor
Ericka Beckman and Marianna Simnett at FACT, Liverpool
Left image (c) Marianna Simnett, Jerwood/FVU Awards. Right image (c) Ericka Beckman

Ericka Beckman and Marianna Simnett at FACT, City Centre 29 March — 16 June 2019 Entrance is free

From the grey-faced, boil-nosed wicked old witch to the youthful and virtuous(virginal) fair maiden adorned in white, fairy tale archetypes provide powerful expression of the ways in which women and their bodies have been labelled and controlled throughout the centuries. Yet it is the question of how these age-old stories (evolved out of earlier oral traditions) intersect with the position of women today that interests and unites the work of eminent American filmmaker Ericka Beckman and rising London-based video artist Marianna Simnett.

Their upcoming duo-exhibition presented at FACT marks a strong start to the organisation’s year-long season focusing on female-identifying artists responding to themes of identity, representation and gender. The show will be accompanied by an extensive public programme of talks, live events, films and workshops exploring gender, female archetypes and fairy tales.

Though Beckman and Simnett’s output is very different in style, both create surreal and disturbing fantasy worlds within which they seek to dismantle and subvert patriarchal ideology, whilst also considering the role of science and technology within this contemporary narrative.

Since she first began making films in the 1970s, across her ongoing career Beckman has used the logic of early gaming to fashion sardonic rewrites of classic tales, through which she seeks to explain the “social systems and learned behaviours that we’ve ingested through media.” FACT’s exhibition will feature her simultaneously comic and disturbing Cinderella (1986) and Hiatus (1999), in which the female protagonist in both is trapped ­– never able to fully satisfy the demands of the ‘game’ they are in.

Winner of the 2014 Jerwood/Film and Video Umbrella Award, Simnett creates fable-like film, performance, sound and light installations that seek to unravel the binary ideas we still hold around subjects such as gender, desire, health and morality. Often featuring unflinching depictions of needles, blood and medical interventions that the artist has undergone herself, her work also examines the ways in which the female body has been treated throughout history as a site for clinical experimentation in the name of science and progress – areas that (Simnett argues) have come to replace the societal role that fables and stories once played as sources of truth and wisdom.

Beckman and Simnett make for a powerful pairing, and the positioning of their work alongside each other should provide a remarkably rich perspective on many of the key cultural issues that have come to preoccupy our present time.

Ericka Beckman and Marianna Simnett at FACT, City Centre 29 March — 16 June 2019 Entrance is free

Where to go near Ericka Beckman and Marianna Simnett at FACT

City Centre
Café or Coffee Shop
Garden Cafe FACT

FACT Liverpool gets back to its coffee-with-creativity roots thanks to a foliage-full new café.

Liverpool
Restaurant
Food From Nowhere

Food From Nowhere is a weekly vegan cafe held in the basement space of much-loved radical bookshop News From Nowhere. It’s open every Saturday from midday to 5pm.

City Centre
Café or Coffee Shop
Bold Street Coffee

A super cool cafe at the top of Bold Street, Bold Street Coffee in Liverpool serves a range of specialist coffee, cakes and sandwiches.

Liverpool
Restaurant
Maray

Much-loved Liverpool restaurant, specialising in forward-thinking small plate dishes.

City Centre
Café or Coffee Shop
LEAF on Bold Street

Keeping Bold Street a hub of creativity, LEAF is more than a tearoom, it’s also a bar and thriving event space with a packed schedule of upcoming happenings.

City Centre
Music venue
Arts Club Liverpool

Based in Liverpool’s old Royal Institute of Arts and Science building, Liverpool Arts Club is a great spot to catch small touring acts.

Photo of wooden tables and a green leather sofa
City Centre
Restaurant
Bretta & Co

Comprising of a deli and a small restaurant, Bretta & Co looks minimalist, modern and tasteful – the kind of place that puts you in mind of lazy brunches and ladies who lunch.

What's on: Exhibitions

Culture Guides

Music in Manchester and the North

Fresh concert seasons, forward-thinking festivals and a revolving door of amazing gigs. Things are looking bright as spring comes into view.

Exhibitions in Manchester and the North

February is a month of love so art lovers in the North - rejoice! There is lots to choose from: two photography festivals, gorgeous crafts and shows celebrating local talent.

Two Japanese girls lean their heads on their hands looking out of a window, bored.
Cinema in Manchester and the North

This month's film picks include 90s action flicks, contemporary Japanese independent cinema, and a festival curated by the next generation of film programmers.