The Mermaid is: a disability activist; a victim of the climate crisis; a celebration of difference and diversity; a fantastical harbinger of a transhumanist future; an alchemist, transforming struggle and prejudice into art; ...curious and wants to join our world.
In the ocean, the Mermaid is free. On the land, she cannot swim or breathe, and is vulnerable to pollutions of chemicals, scents and food from human settlement. It is not the Mermaid that is disabled, but the environment that makes her so.
This work takes the artist's real medical equipment that she requires to venture outside, and recontextualises it by placing them with the image of a "realistic" mermaid. The artist has a cluster of rare genetic diseases which necessitate the use of a wheelchair, braces, respirator mask and oxygen. Her medical aids are turned into objects of fantasy, become instruments of play, but also draw attention to the environmental plight of the mermaid and the ecosystems she represents. The Mermaid is at once whimsical and confronting, calling into question our notions of inclusivity, body, environment and normalcy.
The tension between ability and the restrictions of the illness affect the trajectory of the piece. As she comes into contact with different environmental triggers, The Mermaid may suffer from real medical events: convulsive seizures, respiratory reactions, paralysis. She is in constant reaction with the world and people around her, performatively, spatially, cellularly. Her body exists as canvas, stage, for events to pass through.
She reminds us of our inherent fragility, the permeability of our bodies and ecosystems. She is a celebration and a warning; a living memento mori, for both ourselves and the environment.
Christopher Samuel Carroll
20 minutes, dependent upon medical events
2021 Conductive Site (Sydney, Australia)
2020 Sydney Festival (Sydney, Australia)
2018 I-Day Arts Conference (Canberra, Australia)
2018 Art, Not Apart (Canberra, Australia)
2020 Eco-Anxiety, Imago Theatre (Online)
2019 Waste//Land, The Yale Cabaret (New Haven, United States)
2019 Waterlines, Gulf Park Cultural Arts Series (Ocean Springs, United States)
2019 Regina Theatre Artist Hub Social (Regina, Canada)
2019 Pouring Rain and Porous Bodies, Michigan State University (East Lansing, United States)
2019 Face the Future, PoParts (Hamilton, New Zealand)
2019 Canary, Mostar Youth Theatre (Mostar, Bosnia Herzegovina)
2019 Climate Change Theatre Action: Playreadings, The Blue Room Theatre (Perth, Australia)
2019 Climate Change Theatre Action Greenfield, Greening Greenfield & Local Access (Greenfield, United States)
2019 Canary, Mostar Youth Theatre (Duino, Italy)
2019 Climate Change Theatre Action, Edgehill University (Ormskirk, United Kingdom)
2019 Canary, Mostar Youth Theatre (Ljublujana, Slovenia)
2019 Eco-Anxiety, Imago Theatre (Montreal, Canada)
2019 Take Ten for Climate Change, Carnegie Mellon University (Pittsburgh, United States)
2019 Climate Change Theatre Action, University of New Hampshire (Durham, United States)
2019 MN Climate, Perpich Arts (Golden Valley, United States)
2019 We Draw the Line, East 15 (Southend on Sea, United Kingdom)
2019 Lighting the Way, Duck Bunny Theatre (Nelson, New Zealand)
2019 Honoring the Earth, Open Space (Anchorage, United States)
2019 Lighting the Way, Graceland University (Lamoni, United States)
2019 Eco-Design Charrette, Triga Creative & The Centre for Sustainable Practice in the Arts (Toronto, Canada)
2019 What Can We Do, Towson University (Towson, United States)
2019 Climate Change Theatre Action Readings, NYUAD Theater Program (Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates)
2019 Lighting the Way, Metropolitan Community College (Omaha, United States)
2019 Your House is On Fire, ArkansasStaged (Fayetteville, United States)
2019 Palm Beach Climate Change Theatre Action(s), The Box Gallery (West Palm Beach, United States)
2019 Climate Change Theatre Action in Oahu, Hawaii (Oahu, United States)
2019 Climate Change Artist/Theatre Action, Ithaca College (Ithaca, United States)
2019 Canaries are Flying, Across Oceans Arts (Online)
2019 Hawaii Cold Reads, Sacred Hearts Academy's Global Issues class & Learning Across Borders (LAB) (Honolulu, United States)
2019 Hurricane in a Handbag, Boston Conservatory at Berklee (Boston, United States)
2019 Lighting the Way, The Myers House (St Helena, United States)
Commissioned by The Arctic Cycle for Climate Change Theatre Action 2019.
What does it mean to knowingly pass on a disability to a child? Why are we so afraid of it? What does it say about how we really feel about disabled lives?
Little Monsters also conjures the ethical dilemma of procreation in a post-climate-disaster world. Our mutating genes and changing environment set up our offspring for a more difficult life than we have ever known - is it fair to inflict that struggle onto a human? Is it fair to deny it?
The artist sets her real heritable disability against the make-believe play of her non-blood-related nieces. By placing her signifiers of disability onto their bodies, she casts them in a game where we are called upon to question the tangle of emotions and moral judgements we hold around life-creation and the spread of a diverse species.
with the assistance of Jean Cormick
2019 Art, Not Apart (Canberra, Australia)
In medical training, doctors are taught "when you hear hoofbeats, think horses not zebras", to prevent overdiagnosis of rare conditions when a common one is more likely, but rare disease patients are falling through the cracks.
In her late-20’s, living in Paris, Hanna becomes profoundly ill with a series of mysterious and rare medical conditions. This young adventuress is forced to return to Canberra, confined to living in a sealed room, trapped in a confrontation with her past and the rapid unravelling of her body, and at the mercy of an immune system that has become so alien the outside world could kill her. Intimate personal stories invite us into the hidden and denied realms of disability, weaving through landscapes of rage, sex, shame, death, beauty and ugliness.
Zebracorn is a physical-theatre video-art fantasia, taking us on kaleidoscopic journeys into the underbelly of chronic illness and rare disease; what it’s like living a life that can often feel closer to science fiction than reality, what it feels like to grieve for yourself, how your relationship changes when your lover becomes your carer. Moving from the personal to the political, reclaiming the right to a body, and the very right to be seen.
Christopher Samuel Carroll
Christopher Samuel Carroll
2019 First Seen work in progress showing, The Street Theatre (Canberra, Australia)
Supported by The Hive and First Seen, The Street Theatre
Supported by artsACT
THEATRE AND PLAGUES
A scratch performance of a new work: a conversation with mask performance artist (and medical mask-wearer) Hanna Cormick.
Hanna Cormick hates masks. And loves them. And has spent the last two decades trying to escape her reliance on them, only for a pandemic to shift them mainstream.
In this scratch for a new work, David Finnigan interrogates mistress of masks, Hanna Cormick, in a bid to uncover the mix of theatrical, cultural, psychological and medical knowledge she has accrued over her twenty-year love-hate obsession, and how that translates to this moment in history.
An expert in theatrical mask, as both a mask maker and mask performer, Cormick has apprenticed under the world's leading mask makers in France and Indonesia, and taught mask performance styles since 2002.
Around 2013, Cormick fell out of love with mask performance, but two years later was struck by a cluster of rare diseases that have left her with breathing complications and immunological dysfunction - Cormick now relies on medical masks to help her breathe, and cannot leave her filtered safe-room without a full-face respirator and oxygen tank.
Uniquely placed with her cross-section of cultural/artistic expertise vs medical lived-experience, Cormick will be asked to reflect on these devices that we are letting into our lives, our fashion, our culture, and how they affect how we communicate, express our identity, and relate to ourselves.
2020 on Zoom
RIDE OR DIE
An artistic exploration of the wheelchair-using body.
THE MERMAID I-DAY VIRTUAL EXHIBITION
Released in the lead up to I-Day 2019.
Supported by the ACT Government I-Day Grant program.
2021 Interesting festival, The Playhouse (Wagga Wagga, Australia)
with video by Anni & Aleksi Jousmäki
Commissioned by The Arctic Cycle for Climate Change Theatre Action 2021