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Abdul-Rahman Abdullah

Title
Mask (after Ned Kelly)
Medium
carved wood
Dimensions
68 x 50 x 50 cm
Further information

Canonised in the public imagination as a restive anti-hero, Ned Kelly embodies the enduring fiction of the embattled underdog. In the National Portrait Gallery, stripped of armour, life and beard, Kelly’s death mask lies in state – a disembodied, sallow description of the hangman’s grim task.

Australia continues to polish its idols from a cast of rapacious and violent men. Lionising historical acts of brutality as the just consequences of perceived oppression gives implicit consent to those enacted today. Whether it’s at Don Dale Youth Detention Centre, Manus Island or right next door, the perpetrators of violence need to be revealed for what they are.

Abdul-Rahman Abdullah, 2019