Playing at stereotypes, Deacon and her friends have masked themselves in long-johns and assumed the role of Aussie fanatics, re-enacting current events with sinister humour. Crudely drawn faces, with messy lipsticked mouths, send up the anonymity (a tool of fear) sought by masked terrorists.
Exhibition Dates: 25 October – 17 November 2007
There is no excuse for ignorance and you should make an effort to understand what happens in our world. How else can you be contemporary?
Flags, dolls, and hooded figures are the props and characters that inhabit Destiny Deacon’s latest series of photographs, videos, carpets and cushions at Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery. Deacon typically draws her inspiration from the realities of contemporary cultural politics and in Whacked her themes traverse terrorism, surveillance, subjugation and nationalism. Playing at stereotypes, Deacon and her friends have masked themselves in long-johns and assumed the role of Aussie fanatics, re-enacting current events with sinister humour. Crudely drawn faces, with messy lipsticked mouths, send up the anonymity (a tool of fear) sought by masked terrorists. The comic faces remind us that Deacon’s world is make-believe, a game of role-playing and performance carried out in the domestic sphere where negative stereotypes are problematized and drained of their power. Deacon’s collection of Australiana and dolls populate the various scenes creating a continuous slippage between artefact and character. The dolls often find themselves in grotesque and absurd situations: decked out in military camo, armed with a wooden spoon, or emerging masked from a suitcase. The resulting photographs hit you in the gut. They are playful, intriguing images laced with Deacon’s wicked sense of humour.
Destiny Deacon’s striking photographs are accompanied by two new video works Whacked off and Hoodies, made in collaboration with Virginia Fraser. In Whacked off Deacon and Fraser present us with enhanced surveillance footage taken from a recent exhibition in Penrith. A mysterious visitor to the gallery is captured on camera stealing one of Deacon and Fraser’s video work – directly from the DVD player. Questions of criminality and socio-economic status arise, but the motivations of the perpetrator are ultimately unclear. Deacon is not afraid to tackle tough subjects or challenge the status quo, yet her delivery always remains open-ended. She offers us the setting, the props and the characters, but it is up to the viewer to imagine/interpret the story.
Destiny Deacon is an artist, performer and political activist. Since 1990, Deacon has exhibited her photographs, videos and installations in numerous solo and group exhibitions, nationally and internationally. 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 the only Australian artist to be chosen for Documenta II in Kassel, Germany and she has been included in other important survey exhibitions such as the Yokohama Triennale in 2001, the Biennale of Sydney in 2000, the Adelaide Biennial in 2000 and the Australian Perspecta in 1999 and 1993, ‘Mistaken Identities: Africus – the 1st Johannesburg Biennale’, Museum Africa, Johannesburg, South Africa and ‘Tyerabarrbowaryaou 2, The 5th Havana Bienial’, Havana, Cuba in 1994. Recent group exhibitions include the ‘National Indigenous Art Triennial 2007: Culture Warriors’, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, ‘Yours, Mine & Ours: 50 years of ABC TV’, Penrith Regional Gallery, Emu Plains; ‘Why Pictures Now’, Museum Moderner Kunst (MUMOK), Vienna, Austria; ‘Image & Imagination’, Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal, Canada; ‘Talking Territory and Trauma’, Golden Thread Gallery, Ulster, Ireland; ‘High Tide: Currents in Contemporary Australian Art’, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw, Poland and Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania; and ‘Points of view: Australian photography’ 1985-95, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. Deacon’s work is held in many public collections in Australia including the Art Gallery of New South Wales, the National Gallery of Victoria, the National Gallery of Australia and the Queensland Art Gallery as well as private and corporate collections nationally and internationally.