Travelling from Oz Series, 1998-2003
light-jet print from Polaroid original
number 1 from an edition of 15; inscribed ‘Travelling, 1998-2003’ (lower left); signed and numbered ‘Destiny Deacon 1/15’ (lower right)
Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney
Private collection, Sydney
D-tour, Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney, 14 August- 6 September 2003
This augmented Polaroid image of Dorothy in her ruby slippers, belongs to Deacon’s Oz series. Made in the lead up to the Sydney Olympic Games, Deacon pointed her camera at yet another set of self-fashioned dolls, to re-interpret characters from the 1939 MGM classic motion picture The Wizard of Oz.
This series is seen as the artist’s reminder to society at large that history as we know it, was written just like any work of fiction. ‘Through her tableaux of assembled Koori kitsch dolls, performing in-character the roles handed to them, Deacon demonstrates in Oz Games and Under the spell of the poppies how the construction of identity is an old game and one that she can play too.’ (Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007)
While her playfulness displaces the difficulty of many of her subjects, it relaxes the viewer enabling tough themes (including Aboriginal deaths in custody, mandatory sentencing, poverty, and violence) to be brought into full view, she is no Mary Poppins offering a spoonful of sugar to make the medicine go down… In her pictures, beauty, exuberance, tenderness and play exist in the same frame as that which poisons them.’ (http://www.roslynoxley9.com.au/news/releases/2003/08/14/53/)
Image courtesy of Roslyn Oxley9 Gallery, Sydney and the artist
Destiny Deacon is a KuKu (Far North Queensland) and Erub/Mer (Torres Strait) artist. Born in Maryborough, Queensland in 1957, Deacon is a photo artist, video maker, performer, writer and broadcaster who stimulates ideas about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander politics. Her work references racial stereotypes in art and popular culture, as well as suburban and childhood objects and imagery to bring to light the demeaning, bizarre and racist depictions of Indigenous Australians in film and televsion, black children's dolls and in kitsch decorative objects. Deacon once said of her images that "I like to think there is a laugh and a tear in each picture", a sentiment that captures perfectly the competing senses of innocence and tragedy that underlie her artworks and ideas.
After working alongside Aboriginal activist Charles Perkins as one of his "Angels", Deacon began working as a photographer with her first solo exhibition, Caste Offs, Australian Centre for Photography, Sydney (1993). Since then, she established her place as a major Australian artist domestically and further afield, showing at the prestigious Documenta 11, Hatje Cantz, Germany and major festivals and biennales in Yokohama, Japan (2002); Johannesburg, South Africa (1995) and Havana, Cuba (1994). As much a cultural figure as an artist, she is credited with introducing the term "Blak" to describe Indigenous Australian art and culture.
In 2020, Deacon received the largest exhibition of her work to date, DESTINY, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, which looked back on three decades of photography, installations and other works. Her 2004 major survey, Walk & don't look blak, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, toured to the Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Tokyo, the Tjibao Cultural Centre, Noumea, New Caledonia and Wellington City Gallery, New Zealand.