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Destiny Deacon: Dance Little Lady

The Artist

According to the  Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Destiny Deacon was  born in Maryborough, Queensland in 1957.

Destiny is a descendant of the KuKu (Far North Queensland) and Erub/Mer (Torres Strait) people. An artist, broadcaster and political activist, her performative photographs, videos and installations feature members of her family and friends as well as items from her collection of ‘Aboriginalia’ – assorted black dolls and kitsch. Partly autobiographical and partly fictitious, her acerbic and melancholic work deals with both historical issues and contemporary Aboriginal life and is informed by personal experience and the mass media. Deacon’s humorous works examine the wide discrepancies between representations of Aboriginal people by the white Australian population and the reality of Aboriginal life. In her ‘lo-tech’ productions, Deacon creates an insightful comedy that is effective in establishing a discourse about political, Indigenous and feminist concerns.

Deacon has been exhibiting nationally and internationally since the early 1990s in solo and group shows. Her major survey exhibition Destiny Deacon: Walk & don’t look blak, was held at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney in 2004, and subsequently toured to Wellington City Gallery, Wellington, New Zealand; Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand and Cultural Centre Tjibaou, Noumea, New Caledonia in 2005, and the Metropolitan Museum of Photography, Tokyo in 2006. Selected group exhibitions include Who's Afraid of Colour?, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne (2016); 13th DongGang International Photo Festival, DongGang Museum of Photography, South Korea (2014); Whisper in my Mask, TarraWarra Biennial 2014TarraWarra Museum of Art, Victoria (2014); Land, Sea and Sky: Contemporary Art of the Torres Strait Islands, Queensland Art Gallery|Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane (2011); Integracion Y Resistencia En La Era Global, 10th Havana Biennale, Havana, Cuba (2009); Revolutions – Forms that Turn, 16th Biennale of Sydney, Sydney (2008); and Culture Warriors: The National Indigenous Art Triennial, National Gallery of Australia, Canberra (2007).

Deacon’s work is held in the major state galleries of Australia, and in many regional, corporate and university collections.

Destiny Deacon's Dance Little Lady

The Work of Art

Dance  Little Lady is a large print, one of a  limited run of two hundred. The work depicts an indigenous child  or doll wearing a t-shirt that represents the Aborigninal red, yellow and black sun flag. In some ways the work is quite aesthetic perhaps even innocent but at the same time disturbing. The image speaks to the viewer on many different levels as pointed out by the MCA creating a discourse on a range of concerns.  Many of Destiny's works focus on the young Indigenous child or doll. According to the Potter Museum of Art, University of Melbourne, Destiny focuses on the 'anti-art' and explores attitudes and positions such as lampooning victim hood. According to Hannah Fink, of the University of Melbourne, Abjection is a form of self-protection, and Deacon's work revolves around the many contradictions with which contemporary Indigenous life is riven. 'Nothing surprises most of us Indigenous women any more,' she has said of the 1999 work, It shows no fear. 'It's got that way if a flying-saucer was in our midst, we wouldn't give it a second look.'5 The ludicrous is a useful organising principle for artists dealing with a history and present so outrageous as to be unbelievable, and Deacons' images are object lessons in how to live with outrage. The image was created in 1994 and was acquired by the University around 2000. As one of  a number of indigenous artists working in contemporary media, it is considered a very significant work in the Art Collection.