Fishes, fins, lips and loose heads in two bodies of work – one of them also a work of body parts.
The Fish out of water series takes off from Deacon’s 1995/2004 picture Last laughs in which three young women crammed into one frame and dressed for partying laugh their heads off (or are they all laughing?). This new trio of bored mermaids, fish out of water in separate frames, find different ways to amuse themselves solo – a smart phone, a pack of cards and two cocktails and a hose. The mermaids are Savanna Kruger, the daughter of one of the party girls in Last Laughs, and two of Deacon’s nieces, sisters Sofii Belling (Little Miss Wonder, 1995, Moomba Princess, 2004), and Inyaka Saunders (the 2001 video Forced into images, Princess Security, 2009)
Grandstanding, Escape, Smile and Dolly Lips are all populated by dolls, some of which have been posing for Deacon as long as the mermaids. Grandstanding pulls figures from previous of her pictures. The blind and hooded streaker has run out of Escape from the whacking spoon (2007) and onto a sports oval around the corner from Deacon’s house, the basketballer from Going for a goal (2009) is now playing footy with its own head and the spectator on the boundary has left her washing line in Hanging out two (2003) to adopt a new pose with the same intense gaze in the same frock at the edge of the game.
Escape might show two naughty boys climbing a fence or it may refer to recent more disturbing and newsworthy events. Smile adds to the vocabulary of emojis and Dolly Lips extracts some unexpected expressions from the dolls along the back of Deacon’s couch showing that even fixed expressions can have quite a lot to say.
Destiny Deacon is an artist, performer and political activist and has exhibited nationally and internationally since 1990. In 2005 the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney held a major retrospective of Deacon’s work titled Walk & don’t look blak, which toured to the Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Tokyo, the Tjibao Cultural Centre, Noumea, New Caledonia and Wellington City Gallery, New Zealand. In 2002 Deacon was chosen for Documenta II in Kassel, Germany and she has been included in many other important survey exhibitions such as the Havana Bienal in 2009 and 1994, the Biennale of Sydney in 2008 and 2000, the inaugural National Indigenous Art Triennial 2007: Culture Warriors at the National Gallery of Australia, the Yokohama Triennale in 2001, the Adelaide Biennial in 2000, the Australian Perspecta in 1999 and 1993, and the 1st Johannesburg Biennale in 1995. Deacon was selected for the Dong Gang Interational Photo Festival, Korea in 2014 and included in the Tarrawarra Biennale, curated by Natalie King and Djon Mundine this same year. Notable group exhibitions include Under the Sun. Reimagining Max Dupain’s Sunbaker, Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney (2016), Who’s Afraid of Colour?, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2016), My Country, I Still Call Australia Home, GOMA, Brisbane and travelling (2016), The documentary take, curated by Naomi Cass, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne (2016), Melbourne Now, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2013), Rising Tide: Film and Video Works from the MCA Collection, Sydney, Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego 2009, Half Light: Portraits from Black Australia at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2008, Yours, Mine & Ours: 50 years of ABC TV, Penrith Regional Gallery 2007; Why Pictures Now, Museum Moderner Kunst (MUMOK), Vienna in 2006; Image & Imagination, Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal, Canada in 2006; High Tide: Currents in Contemporary Australian Art, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw in 2006 and Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania. Deacon’s work is held in most major public collections in Australia as well as Museum Moderner Kunst (MUMOK), Stifting Ludwig Vienna, Austria and Museum Sammlung Essl, Austria.