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              Imperial Lunatic. All Photos: Kevin O'Donnell


24 hour Live Art Performance

Midnight April 21st til Midnight April 22nd 2023

STAC Chapel, Kickham Plaza, Clonmel, Co.Tipperary

Stills and Sounds of the Event can be viewed on Austin's YouTube channel here:

Imperial Lunatic was part of Austin’s solo exhibition, ‘Some signs are secret, some manifest’,  at STAC Gallery March30 -  13th May 2023.

The exhibition and the residency was curated by Helena Tobin.


This event was live streamed for the full 24hrs of the performance from midnight on April 22nd and was open to the public from  9am – 10pm. No booking was required. There was a max capacity on visitors at any one time. The full performance will be freely available to watch on YouTube soon


More information on the STAC website here:



In a challenging exploration of the traditional and the discarded, of biopower and queer energy, McQuinn was artist-in-residence at STAC Chapel, in the former Kickham Army Barracks, where he created a twenty-four hour live-streamed live-art performance called Imperial Lunatic. Following the cycle of the new moon rising, the artist used his body in series of repeating actions, with percussion, volcano videos, masks, medals, zigzags, tongues and talc. 

“In this performance, my aim is to authentically make images that emerge through my own physical body into this already loaded space of the former Army Chapel. I am trying to find a way for my queer body to enter these historically charged institutions of church and military, into spaces where some bodies have not been trusted with any kind of agency. The actions I am creating come out of my own interior language. This performance is a Butoh-inspired, hip-hop inclined, playing-with-fire. The live art images and rituals I am making are not intended as a comment or response to the military chapel; they are more a possession of it, a queering of the space to allow otherness to flow.

McQuinn first heard the historical term Imperial Lunatic being used in Tasmania in reference to how the new state had managed the people who didn’t fit neatly into the colonial agenda. He interprets the Imperial Lunatic as a figure whose emotions and ideas are so overwhelming that they are not able to function as an effective component of the empire or social convention. “The imperial drive has only one aim - to maintain its social power. The lunatic or any figure who is not capable of working to uphold this sovereign dominion must be managed so as not to be a threat to the drive of empire. In this way, this outsider or emotional or social renegade becomes Imperial-ised, where the state recognises their otherness. The Empire provides space and care for them to lessen their distress and minimise their getting in the way of perceived social progress.”  

“The term lunatic carries nothing pejorative for me. I work at night. I am definitely affected by the lunar cycles, emotionally and metaphysically. For me the lunatic is almost a romantic, archaic figure; emotive, unpredictable, unable to stay inside the grid of heteronormativity which depends on convention.  As an artist, I identify with the necessity of the lunatic to push against bio-territorial politics in order to emotionally survive the pull of the planets.”

Austin McQuinn and Helena Tobin, 2023.


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