Faint with Light (2016) records Simnett inducing a cycle of fainting attacks through hyperventilation. The sound of her breath is monitored by ultra-bright lights that rise and fall on a twelve-metre screen dividing the space. Simnett’s blackouts provide an alarming soundtrack, alerting us to our most vital bodily function. Intense flashes of light dance to choked gasps for air: an uncomfortable reminder of the fragile border separating consciousness from unconsciousness, life from death.
With this installation, Simnett writes herself into a lineage of performance artists who subject themselves to extreme actions in order to challenge the limits of the body and to test the stomach of the viewer. However, in contrast to the work of artists such as Carolee Schneemann, Vito Acconci, and Chris Burden, Simnett’s physical body is hauntingly absent. We do not see her pass out — instead we witness a never-ending loop of her collapse and revival.