Design Canberra 2021 logo

Desiderium performance + artist talk
Past event

Desiderium performance + artist talk

In this very special festival event, artist Hannah Quinlivan will speak about her signature DESIGN Canberra installation, Desiderium, followed by an intimate performance where acclaimed classical vocalists respond to the sculptural elements as they move through the space, materialising the atmosphere of Desiderium into sound and movement.

Desiderium is an ephemeral spatial drawing and vocal performance that educes what Ben Anderson terms ‘the affective atmosphere’ of life after periods of crisis. It responds to the red summer with which the year 2020 began, the subsequent health and economic crisis, and the fissures they have riven in our collective mood. This year has brought the realisation that the slow unravelling of our ecology has gained irreversible momentum. At the same time, the viral outbreak has compelled us to face with sober senses the fragility of our once taken for granted ways of living. After a year of grief and fear, this artwork asks its audience to take time to pause. To listen and hold close our ardent longing for the futures we once possessed but that dissolved into smoke, and to find the fortitude to care for each other through the uncertain future.

This work builds upon Arrhythmia, a collaboration by the same artists at the National Portrait Gallery in 2016. Prompted by imagery of glacial collapse on the other side of the world, that work interrogated the anticipation of a disaster that still felt distant in time as well as space. Four years on, Desiderium charts a changed structure of feeling, providing a moment to regroup and find the collective resources to care for each other during the time to come.

About Hannah Quinlivan

“Hannah Quinlivan is a young artist who has found her own distinctive voice, one which unites the intimate and the personal with the public and universal. Her art is distinctive, intense and very memorable”. – Sasha Grishin, 2018.

Hannah Quinlivan abstract drawing practice has a number of strands, with site-specific spatial drawing becoming increasingly important to her work. In April 2019, the first line of the Canberra Light Rail was opened, featuring Quinlivan’s drawings embedded in the glazing at each of the thirteen stations. In the previous two years, she installed ephemeral site-specific spatial drawings at Jan Kossen Contemporary, New York (2018), Hong Kong Art Central (2017), Colorado State University (2017) and Canberra Museum and Art Gallery (2017). In 2016 and 2017 she mobilised spatial drawing and performance works at the National Portrait Gallery. Also in 2016 she won an ANU Scholarship to install an ephemeral, site-specific work Spatialisation at Pembroke College, Cambridge University.

In 2017, she was awarded the Canberra Critics Circle Award. She has been a finalist in many juried exhibitions, including the 2017 Churchie Art Prize, and the 2018 and 2014 Alice Prize. In 2015 she was awarded the Art at the Heart Residency by the Shire of East Pilbara. In 2017, she was artist in residence at the Zentrum fur Kunst und Urbanistiks in Berlin where she also undertook a mentorship with Monika Grzymala. Quinlivan is represented in number of collections including the National Gallery of Australia, The Australian High Commission (Singapore), ACT Legislative Assembly Art Collection, Deakin University Art Collection, among many others. She graduated dux from ANU School of Art (Honours) in 2013.

DESIGN Canberra acknowledges the Ngunnawal people as the traditional custodians of the ACT and surrounding areas. We honour and respect their ongoing cultural and spiritual connections to this country and the contribution they make to the life of this city and this region. We aim to respect cultural heritage, customs and beliefs of all Indigenous people.