Hanna Cormick with Christopher Samuel Carroll

The Mermaid

Performance Art


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.

We are at a tipping point of toxicity; the sickness of the planet, the terminal illness of our barrier reef, the ubiquitous poison of plastic, the pollution of our shared resources of air, water and land, due to impacts of the climate crisis and human activity. Our bodies are not independent from the world we are destroying- boundaries are blurred. The Mermaid is a face for the affected natural world as she becomes victim to the pollution of passers-by.

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.

Featuring music by The Everly Ills (Lloyd Allison-Young/Rachel Feldhaus) and texts by Hanna Cormick, Audre Lorde, Paul B Preciado.



Hanna Cormick is a performance artist based in Canberra. She is a graduate of Ecole Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq (Paris), Charles Sturt University's Acting for the Screen and Stage degree, and NIDA's Young Actor's Studio, and has trained with the Grotwoski Centre and the Roy Hart Centre. She performed in cirque-cabaret as Les Douleurs Exquises, and in clown as Salade & Socks, which included work with Her Yerde Sanat Social Circus in refugee camps on the Turkish-Syrian border. She was a founding member of interdisciplinary art-science group Last Man To Die, who toured Australia with their audience interactive tech-driven work, and were shortlisted for an ArtsHub award for Innovation in the Arts.

Cormick has taken a hiatus from art for the last two years, dealing with the impacts of her disability and medical conditions. She suffers from a severe form of hypermobile Ehlers Danlos Syndrome, Mast Cell Activation Syndrome, Dysautonomia and Chiari Malformation. The Mermaid is Cormick's first work as a disabled artist.


Christopher Samuel Carroll is an Irish theatre-artist based in Canberra. As an actor, he has worked with companies all over Ireland, and as artistic director of Bare Witness Theatre Company, creates physical theatre in ensembles and as a solo performer.

His victorian blockbuster, Early Grave, Fashionably Late, sold-out at Smith’s Alternative after a run at The Butterfly Club in Melbourne in 2016, and his one-man Butoh adaptation of Paradise Lost was nominated for The West Australian Arts Editor Award and shortlisted for the Best Theatre award at Fringe World 2017.

Christopher is a graduate of The Samuel Beckett Centre, Trinity College Dublin, and Ecole Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq, Paris.






3:30 pm - 3:45 pm | Jaeger Room

4:15 pm - 4:30 pm | Here and There

5:15 pm - 5:30 pm | Nishi Gallery


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