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Hannah Quinlan and Rosie Hastings, 'Everything Is Folly In This World That Does Not Give Us Pleasure ’, 2021

CIRCA:
We’re excited to have you join the line up as part of CIRCA’s c.20:21 programme for this July month, curated by Norman Rosenthal. Perhaps you can tell us about your commission?

HANNAH QUINLAN & ROSIE HASTINGS:
"Everything is folly in this world That does not give us Pleasure" is a two-part film that comprises found footage and text. The found footage comes from our personal archive of materials and is the result of many years of scouring the internet, while the text is a direct reference to Giuseppe Verdi’s opera “La Traviata,” which was in turn based on Alexandre Dumas’ “La Dame aux Camélias.”

The first part of the film, presented on the CIRCA website, is made up of found footage videos - edited into a triptych or pentaptych on the screen - that show LGBTQ+ people dancing alone in their bedrooms, living rooms or gardens. Dancing in solitude by themselves, for themselves. A few of the videos are set in studios or gyms, but they were too good not to include.

The second part of the film - the one that will be on show at Piccadilly Circus - is text-based, and it includes a verse from “La Traviata,” where the title of the work is based. The opera’s libretto was written by Francesco Maria Piave, and the verse we are focusing on is taken from "Brindisi," a traditional Italian drinking song that is part of the opening scene of the opera which encourages the characters to drink and toast to life, joy and pleasure.

The film is a love letter to the people of London, the verse we used, translated from Italian reads as follows:

With you, I would share
My Days of Happiness;
Everything is folly in this world
That does not give us pleasure.
Let us enjoy life,
For the pleasures of love are swift and fleeting
As a flower that lives and dies
And can be enjoyed no more.
Let's take our pleasure!
While it is ardent,
Brilliant summons lead us on.

The Brindisi is taken from act one of La Traviata, the message of reckless hopefulness centering pleasure becomes tragic as we watch the main character Violetta lose herself at once to doomed love and death by tuberculosis. Our objective was to overwhelm the screen at Piccadilly Circus by breaking apart, repeating and choreographing Brindisi’s chorus onto the screen’s enormous surface area.

“Everything is folly in this world That does not give us Pleasure" is a two-part film that comprises found footage and text referencing queer club culture and the tragic relationship between love and impermanence within the sociopolitical context of 2020-21.The work is a love letter to London, an offering of joy, pleasure and resilience at a time of mourning, isolation and sickness.

The first part of the film is made up of videos that show LGBTQ+ people dancing. The majority of them are alone in their bedrooms, living rooms or gardens, dancing in solitude; by themselves, for themselves, and reframing freedom and joy in the process. The second part of the film is text-based and includes the fragmented verse “Everything is folly in this world That does not give us Pleasure” from the libretto of “La Traviata.”

The video footage is edited into a triptych or pentaptych on the screen and is accompanied by an extended version of the same verse from Verdi’s opera, which was originally written in Italian. The verse is taken from "Brindisi," a traditional Italian drinking song that is part of the opening scene of “La Traviata” which encourages the characters to drink and toast to life, joy and pleasure. The scene is one of reckless hopefulness and tragedy as the audience learns that the heroine, Violetta is dying of tuberculosis. In "Everything is folly in this world That does not give us Pleasure," the text is emphasised and reframed by being broken apart, repeated and choreographed.

Hannah Quinlan & Rosie Hastings (both b.1991, London and Newcastle) live and work in South-East London. Working across film, drawing, installation, performance and fresco, Hannah and Rosie address the sociocultural and political structures that reinforce conservatism and discriminatory practices within and around the LGBTQ+ community. Their work archives the politics, histories and aesthetics of queer spaces and culture in the West, and proposes strategies for the redistribution of power in relation to gender, class and race.

They have participated in group shows including the recent ‘Cruising Pavilion: Architecture, Gay Sex and Cruising Culture’, ArkDes, Stockholm; ‘Kiss My Genders’, Hayward Gallery, London; and ‘Queer Spaces: London, 1980s – Today’, Whitechapel Gallery, London (all 2019). Solo presentations include ‘Something for The Boys’, Two Queens, Leicester (2018) and ‘Gaby’, Queer Thoughts, NYC (2018). Recent performances took place for Image Behaviour, ICA (2019), Art Night (2019), Move Festival, Pompidou Centre (2019), and Kiss My Gender Live, Southbank Centre (2019).