SPIRIT & VISION
Destiny Deacon - - -
By photographing friends and admired aquaintances Destiny Deacon experiments with finding ways around or through the camera's innate voyeurism. Deacon's photographs and videos are literally homemade, shot either in her living room or in her subject's houses. Getting the right shot, she says, is like "playing pokies"2, and her images are apparently incidental, uncaught or unaccounted for like the sidelong glance or the child's snapshot. ...In seeming accidental or even amateurish Deacon stakes a claim for being able to be unpredictable, unaccountable or even inexplicable: of possessing one's mystery, rather than being attibuted with it.
Deacon not only signally fails to entertain but actually presumes to bore the viewer.
As Marcia Langton suggests, perhaps the works speak differently to different people - black and white, male and female: "Destiny loves to resurrect the imagery of our oppression, position her favourite dolls or people in her stage sets, and eke out the discomfort. I have often wondered if her work irritates whites in the same way as it irritates me. Or is the message different for them?" 3
So much of Aboriginal discourse has been patiently tailored to the ignorance of non-Indigenous people: the unspoken context for Aboriginal utterance is white ignorance. Almost every aspect of communication involves negotiation and translation: between cultures, within cultures, between the past and present. While white Australia hungrily appropriates and rewrites Indigenous culture by translating it into its own terms, whether those of new ageism or of modernism, or by denying history or refusing to apologize for the stolen children, contemporary Indigenous Artists deploy strategies which create the possibility of a sediment or meaning or self-hood that cannot be mediated or disturbed. Through her art Destiny Deacon navigates ways of seeing through white Australia's hall of mirrors, capturing aspects of cultural difference that are untranslatable - inscrutable even. The result is that most desirable of personal qualities: self-possession.
by Hannah Fink 2004
1) This essay is an excerpt from Fink, Hannah. 2004 'Cracking Up', in: Australian Humanities Review.
2) Short for "poker machines"
3) Langton, Marcia, September 1997, 'The Valley of the Dolls: Black Humour in the Art of Destiny Deacon', in: Art and Australia, p. 105.
Into Images 2001