Born 1962 in Melbourne, Victoria, lives in Sydney.
Deborah Kelly has been making socially engaged artwork since 1983. She was also Creative Director of Australia's largest public interest communications company for 7 years. Her projects seek to implicate broad audiences in the discourses of local histories, and to intervene into representation of place and power. Recent collaborative projects have included boat-people.org, graphic civil disobedience on refugees, mass actions on Aboriginal Land Rights, and the prize-winning public art project with Tina Fiveash "Hey, hetero!", shown in Sydney, Adelaide, Melbourne and Wellington. She co-curated and conceived the 2002 exhibition, symposium and tactical media lab BORDERPANIC, a Performance Space/Museum of Contemporary Art/Next 5-Minutes co-production, with Zina Kaye. She has given public lectures and workshops around Australia and in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Amsterdam and Ottawa. Her current projects include being commissioning editor/artist for "It's Great to Be Straight: a Critical Anthology Regarding Heterosexuality", boat people.org, and the ongoing "Refugee Legal Information Project" together with Smash Racism.
We are ALL Boat People
We are ordinary Australians who are appalled at the inhumane treatment of refugees by our government. We have decided to get involved and challenge the border panic encouraged by the current rhetoric of fear.
Our goal is to create a shift in the minds and hearts of our fellow Australians who have not seen the truth behind the lies told by the Howard Government and the mainstream media outlets that broadly support it's views.
We know that these unjust laws will eventually be changed - and we know that Australians will look back on this period with great shame. However we must act now with urgency to bring about this change before more people suffer. We believe that this will only happen through constant and increasing pressure from compassionate people like you.
So we ask you to start with this simple act: spread the We are all Boat People idea in your community and beyond.
Beware of the God
This site intends to be a resource of diverse material documenting, analysing, and musing upon the impacts and aspirations of religious literalists in the public sphere. It is being produced in Australia, in 2005, so that is its first focus. However, you will also find here information, ideas and reportage from other places, because even though context is everything, a global phenomenon is also something.
Meeting a terrorist
Deborah Kelly's installation, “Meeting a terrorist”, interrogates the Islamophobia of Reverend Fred Nile's call in the NSW Upper House for Muslim schoolgirls to be banned from wearing veils to public schools in the interest of 'unity'. Other prominent, self-proclaimed Christian politicians from WA, NSW and SA have supported this call, even urging a prohibition on the wearing of hijab in public places because of their fantasized fear that terrorists might hide weapons under them. In Kelly’s installation, the Madonna holds a box of 50 'concealed incendiary devices', while draped at her feet, an abundance of blue satin disappears into a small bottle of petrol. By repositioning the Madonna as the Veiled Woman, and posing her absurdly, as a terrorist, Kelly exposes the aspersions cast on Muslims by ill-informed and hysterical individuals.
A collaboration between multiple-media artist Deborah Kelly and photographer Tina Fiveash which has been raising issues -- and hackles -- around Australia is soon to be exhibited in Berlin. 'Hey Hetero!' uses the tactics and production values of mainstream advertising to question the invisible but omnipresent nature of heterosexuality.
BORDERPANIC: interview with Deborah Kelly and Zina Kaye
BORDERPANIC was created to look at the tangle of xenophobic pathologies in the ascendant across all the white worlds, the resultant rise of anti-immigrant and anti-refugee discourses, and to be a cultural node of response to these themes which promise such ongoing disaster to the planet.