Born 1962, Wurundjeri/Boon Wurrung Country, Narrm (Melbourne). Lives and works between Gadigal Country, Sydney and Jerrinja Country, Currarong, New South Wales
Deborah Kelly’s practice encompasses collage, installation, event and performance. Her projects are often collaborative and concerned with lineages of representation, politics and history in public exchange. Some of Kelly’s projects originate as political practices and others are picked up by cultural institutions. Beware of the God (2005), commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, appeared across Sydney as postcards, videos and projections onto clouds. No Human Being Is Illegal (2014–19), for the Biennale of Sydney, unfolded through hundreds of collages and is now in the collection of the Wellcome Trust in London. Other projects have involved political billboards, a dancing memorial, 25,000 black armbands, and free posters.
Photograph: Su Goldfish
Image courtesy and © the artist
by Deborah Kelly
Climate catastrophe is upon us. And yet, here we are, so far down the wrong road. Trumpeting a gas-led recovery. Watching wildlife disappear, forever. Still stealing stolen lands. Letting liars lie. Is it possible to imagine a way away from this precipice?
I dreamt of an insurgent queer science fiction climate change religion.
For CREATION I offered a premise, payment and provocation to artists I love and admire. I held out scant dry bones and hope, and they handed back blood, stink and breath. Etched skin, heartbeat, foot thump. A flicker. A faith.
This work is becoming. Specifically, it is becoming the work of a plurality of artists whose cumulative power calls into being a resolute and gathering vitality. For CREATION.
SJ Norman lent his soulful, gothic glory to the task of bringing forth the slyly glittering text at the centre of this endeavor. Everything leads to, and proceeds from, Liturgy of the Saprophyte.
A saprophyte’s nourishment is the decaying matter of previous generations of organisms, and its gift is recycling organic material into simpler compounds that can in turn be taken up by other beings. The richness of this metaphor informs the ongoing evolution of the work of CREATION, on every register.
Poets, musicians and dancers, visual artists, filmmakers, musicians, dancefloor royalty, an oracle, producers, a milliner and costumier, animators and friends have worked steadfastly through the extraordinary challenges of the pandemic. The whole multifaceted project faltered and fell more than once, and thanks to the generous creativity of many collaborators, rose and rose again.
I lost my father under lockdown and all the many labours, all the days, are full of his absence. Without him, I’m walking forward into CREATION, a solemn conceit, a playful diversion. Ridiculous, and yet deadly serious. A way to go on, to be together, to make commitments to and with, to be implicated together, to make a model, to take steps, to hold holy, to be worshipful, to gather and to rise.
Here, an invitation: join us.
HOW and WHO
The astonishing Angela Goh transformed 20 strangers into a dynamic choreography collective, devising the steps for our becoming, quite literally, a social movement. Brilliant Lex Lindsay is making us musical, and in the karaoke videos you will meet CREATION’s first beloved singers. Young auteur Alia Ardon made the instructional moving image materials as autonomous works of art. James King picked up the vast challenge of the regalia, conjuring presence and personality for the liturgy’s Holy Orders. Our Oracle Erica McCalman, with gracious co-host Matthew Van Roden, made Darwin meaningful and gave purpose to the Precepts. Collagists resolutely murdered many old books to interpret the Liturgy in workshops at the MCA, in Darwin and in Kandos. Producers Bec Dean, Kate Britton, Tulleah Pearce and Su Goldfish have rendered it real. Making CREATION has also depended on the generative, dexterous encouragement of exhibition curator Rachel Kent, plus Jeff Khan, Micheal Do and the support of Vital Statistix, Arts House, The Australia Council, Create NSW, City of Sydney and the Sydney Opera House.
CREATION is being made on the unceded lands of Kaurna, Gadigal, Bidjigal, Wiradjeri, Jerrinja and Larrakia Nations.
Production: Bec Dean, Tulleah Pearce, Kate Britton, Erica McCalman, Su Goldfish.
Liturgy: SJ Norman; Movement Director: Angela Goh; Music Director: Lex Lindsay; Original soundtrack: Stereogamous featuring Lupa J; Filmmaker: Alia Ardon; Collage animation: Melody Pei Li ; Stop motion/ text animation: Martin Fox; Costumier: James L King; Artist/chef Andrew Rewald; Poets: Evelyn Araluen, Virginia Barratt, Brian Fuata, Amrita Hepi, Lex Lindsay, Heather Grace Jones, Ellen Van Neerven, Jinghua Qian. Additional music composition: Karen Cummings. Photography by Lucy Parakhina, Garry Trinh and Alex Wisser. Cinematography: Mia Ardianto, Maria Barbagallo.
Institutional partners: Vitalstatistix (Adelaide); Arts House (Melbourne); New Annual Festival Newcastle; The Lockup Gallery; Lismore Regional Gallery; Museum of Contemporary Art Australia; Cementa Festival (Kandos); Sydney Opera House, Seet Dance, Performance Space (Sydney) UNSW Esme Timbery Creative Practice Lab.
Singers: Zaya Barroso, Eugene Choi, Harriet Gillies, Kit Spencer, Liza-Mare Syron, Alison Williams; Percussion: James Tawadros. Dancers: Scarlett Fitzpatrick-Lubowitz, Brian Fuata, Melissa Gilbert, Lily Golightly, Zachary Lopez, Inez Murray, Scarlet Perry, Nivedita Rajendra, Isabella Sanasi, Lilli Seebacher, Celeste Stein, Aiya Ting, Anthony Toohey, Floria Tosca, Ella Watson-Heath, Jessica Weatherall, Alison Williams, Patricia Wood, Wendy Yu, Tessa Zettel.
Collage collaborators: Women With Knives (Kandos): Joanne Albany, Bridget Baskerville, Karen Golland, Sarah Michell, Julie Williams; Beloved Collective (Darwin): convenors Erica McCalman and Matthew Van Roden with Sarah Pirrie, Tarzan Junglequeen, Lee Harrop; Sydney: Kate Andrews, Mia Ardianto, Alia Ardon, Veronica Barac-Gomez, Tristan Chant, Elizabeth Chua, Alice Crawford, Stella Darling, Susana Depetris, Rebecca Gallo, Amanda Holt, Lex Lindsay, Judy-Ann Moule, Karan Singh, Floria Tosca. Animation landscapes by Jenny More with special permission from Peter Swain, Dabee Wiradjeri man, to reproduce his depiction of the Murrayang mountains, Wiradjeri Country.
Funding support: Australia Council for the Arts, City of Sydney, Create NSW, Arts House, Vitalstatistix.