Thought-provoking, controversial and awe-inspiring, welcome to the wonderful world (and designs) of performance artist Marnie Scarlett.
We came across your Killer Heels profiled on the Virtual Shoe Museum, can you tell us more the concept to creation? I am a performance artist, and one of the media I use during some of my shows are hypodermic needles, with which I pierce myself live onstage. I have several serious shows such as Poison Ivy, Elizabeth and Birds, but also some more fun needle shows, showing a lighter side such as my Sailor show (during which I light sparklers attached to my piercings).
I keep all the needles and work them into art works. I have a beautiful Crown of Thorns I have made and three wonderful masks, Killer Heels were made about five years ago, focusing on the theme of beauty and pain. I often use items I have used in shows or in my daily life to create wearable art such as my FaceDress which is a very long gown made out of face wipes I saved up for three years.
Our ultimate heel-osophy question: If you can't walk in a shoe, is it a shoe or is it a work of art? Can it be both? These shoes are no longer wearable, they were once, before I covered the insole with needles too, but now they are covered, the wearer would tear open the soles of the feet. They are a pure work of art now.
Have you always expressed yourself through performance art? I have always expressed myself any way I could, ha! I can no longer remember what came first costume—art or performance—but I love that now all three blend so well together, sometimes one taking the overtone over the other but always hinting at each other.
I started off as a latex designer many moons ago but soon started making art (sometimes latex, sometimes other media) and elaborate costumes for myself. I started performing to give this a story. I love telling a story no matter how surreal.
Does creating your costumes give you more creative freedom? Yes it does, particularly for myself. I can go all out and make things that are perhaps so uncomfortable, that I would not dare to recommend it to anyone else. Or, so out there it would not feasible to make for someone else.
Have you had any formal training in fashion or design? I have no clear degree from any college or university, but I have done many courses in many fabrics and disciplines. I have also been lucky to have learned from a lot of people. I never stop learning. Whether it be courses, YouTube, or most importantly other people. I never want to stop learning. The day you know it all, it is time to stop.
What role do you feel shoes have in the way in which we express ourselves? Can they say more about us than we dare to admit? They sometimes do form the idea and the base of a look. I have adored beautiful footwear since I was very, very young. A wonderful pair of shoes can make you feel great, sexy, silly. A great look starts and finishes a look a pair of wonderful shoes!
What exciting developments do you have in the works for 2017 and beyond? I have just finished my second show for this year, which features the battle of good and evil and once again a lot of latex. I have also just finished three more art works featuring hypodermic needles, and also have finished three latex paintings. I hope to make a few inflatable pieces and perhaps later this year it may be time for my second solo art show ;-) ?