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Dark fairytales the focus at FACT this spring

Work by contemporary artists Ericka Beckman and Marianna Simnett has opened FACT’s 2019 programme of new exhibitions.

The women both use technology combined with classic elements of fairytales to explore an image of the female body in today’s society.

The Wood Street venue’s wider 2019 season is set to focus on identity, representation and gender – complementing RISE, Liverpool’s year of cultural events and happenings that celebrate inspirational women.

FACT exhibitions manager Lesley Taker 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 fairytales from many cultures as well as reclaiming traditionally 'male' spaces, in favour of a more feminist mythology.

Above: Hiatus by Erika Beckman. Top: Laura Callaghan's giant mural will remain in place throughout FACT's 2019 exhibition year

“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.”

American filmmaker Beckman is exhibiting two video pieces – Cinderella, and the dual screen installation Hiatus.

Beckman, who started her career in the 1970s as part of the Pictures Generation, uses the imagery and style of early computer games - as well as the rigid structures and rules of gaming - in her works.

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.

The Udder (2014) by Marianna Simnett

Londoner Marianna Simnett combines mythology and surgery to create tales of morality, exploring themes of corruption and innocence and the gender divide in our cultures.

FACT is displaying three films; The Udder (2014) - shot on a dairy farm in Sussex, and Blood (2015) which sit together in one room and are watched with the help of a soundtrack on headphones, and the troubling sound and light installation, Faint with Light (2016).

Simnett’s dark fairytales include children singing cruel playground chants, jarring with uncompromising close-ups of surgery and blood, while in Faint with Light (2016) we hear the artist inducing her body to faint repeatedly. Be aware - the latter involves flickering lights.

A series of related events, tours, films and talks are due to take place at the Wood Street gallery during the exhibition's run.

Ericka Beckman and Marianna Simnett are at FACT from March 29 to June 16.

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