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An image of Portrait: Janet Burchill & Jennifer McCamley, Artists by Destiny Deacon

Destiny Deacon

(Australia 1957 – )

Language group
Kuku, East Cape region , Erub, Torres Strait region
Portrait: Janet Burchill & Jennifer McCamley, Artists
Media category
Materials used
colour bubble jet print from Polaroid photograph

57.9 x 71.0 cm image; 61.0 x 79.0 cm sheet

Signature & date
Signed and dated l.l. to u.l., black crayon pencil "... Destiny Deacon 1998 ...".
Purchased 1998
Accession number
© Destiny Deacon. Licensed by Viscopy, Sydney
Not on display
Further information

Destiny Deacon is a photo and video artist, performer, writer and broadcaster, whose images re-interpret, parody and make transparent cultural stereotypes. She was born in Maryborough, Queensland in 1957 and educated at La Trobe and Melbourne universities. Deacon's work has been exhibited extensively in Australia and overseas. In 2005 the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney held a retrospective of her work ‘Walk and don’t look blak’ which then travelled to Tokyo, Noumea and New Zealand. She has been included in a number of important exhibitions including Documenta 11, Kassel, Germany 2002, and the Biennales of Sydney 2000, 2008.

Deacon is widely recognized for her staged photographs which employ various props, including souvenirs and kitsch, in satirical tableaus that critique notions of Aboriginality. Initially, in 1991, she employed dolls and since then they have become a signature motif. This use of non-living models informed her practice when she began to photograph people. As Deacon states, ‘I’ve never been one for “live action” shots…I’ve got to rule the roost. It’s no different dealing with inanimate objects or people, except with people I’m more terrified.’1

This method can be seen in Deacon’s ‘Portrait: Janet Burchill & Jennifer McCamley, artists’ 1998. Burchill and McCamley, Melbourne and Mildura based collaborative artists, have been arranged in a re-enactment of Henri Matisse’s ‘Conversation’ 1908-12. The photograph echoes the deep blue background of the original painting. The two artists hold the stiff positions of Matisse and his seated wife gazing across at each other. This is one of a number of Deacon’s works that feature Australian writers, artists and other notable figures re-enacting iconic paintings. Other examples include artist Fiona Hall in a 2004 retake of Grace Cossington-Smith’s ‘The sock knitter’ 1915 and a portrait of Gary Foley inspired by William Dobell’s ‘The boy at the basin’ 1932.

1. Destiny Deacon, ‘Interview with Virginia Fraser’ in ‘Destiny Deacon: walk & don't look blak’, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2004 p 109

Exhibition history (3)

Blackroots: Indigenous Gay and Lesbian Art 1998, Boomalli Aboriginal Co-Operative, Strawberry Hills, 03 Feb 1998–28 Feb 1998

Destiny Deacon "It Won't Rub Off, Baby, New Work 1998, Gallery Gabrielle Pizzi, Fitzroy, 03 Mar 1998–21 Mar 1998

What's in a face? aspects of portrait photography, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 24 Sep 2011–05 Feb 2012