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Deborah Kelly's acclaimed exhibition of life-sized nudes opens at Noosa Regional Gallery

Deborah Kelly’s acclaimed exhibition No Human Being Is Illegal (in all our glory) is set to provoke plenty of discussion when it opens at Noosa Regional Gallery today, Friday 20 July.

“We are expecting visitors’ reactions to range from shock to delight,” says Noosa Regional Gallery Director, Michael Brennan, “but underneath it all the exhibition has a serious message and raises some important questions.”

The exhibition, which comprises 20 life-sized nude photographic portraits, was originally created for the 19th Biennale of Sydney by teams of public participants over the course of many months.

“Noosa now has the opportunity to see this incredible community project as the final venue in this extensive national tour,” says Michael Brennan.

The images were collaged over time as workshop participants added layers of archival and contemporary imagery specific to the subjects’ interests, attributes and vision.

“The subjects represent a fascinating cross section of contemporary Australia with each portrait telling an intimate story of the subject’s life,” Mr Brennan says.

“We are thrilled to have secured this ground-breaking exhibition for Noosa. The concept, scale and ambition are all impressive. Nothing compares, however, to being in the same room as these beautifully intricate representations of shared humanity and celebrated individuality.”

Mr Brennan is also excited about a unique opportunity to host Deborah Kelly as an artist-in-residence during this exhibition.

“This residency is for the express purpose of facilitating a two-week collaborative community workshop. It will see the photographic portrait of one of the subjects, Jeremy Anderson, re-worked to reflect the significant shift in Jeremy’s physical and cultural identity since the project began,” says Mr Brennan.

“Prior to being photographed for Deborah Kelly’s project, Jeremy was known as Jemima Jane Anderson. Since this time, Jeremy has transitioned to outwardly reflect his internal sense of his gender.”

He has also significantly reconnected with his Indigenous ancestry. With Jeremy’s active contribution, Deborah will work collaboratively with local artists and interested community participants to revisit and re-work Jeremy’s portrait, articulating and celebrating these profound shifts in his identity.

“Workshop participants will hear directly from Jeremy as he shares his experiences as a starting point for the collaborative art work,” says Mr Brennan.

“This project will celebrate diversity, difference and inclusion in the community. Through sustained collaboration, participants will develop a shared and amplified understanding of diverse social identity and well-being, bringing this both into the artwork they create together and taking it with them back out into the community, to their families and social circles, and into their lives.”

The completed collaborative image of Jeremy will join the other 19 portraits for the duration of the exhibition, which is on show at Noosa Regional Gallery until September 2, 2018.

About the artist

For the better part of three decades, Deborah Kelly has created a prolific body of mixed-media artworks that are at once unexpected, humorous, provocative, and profound. Often politically motivated, Kelly’s artworks explore ideas of power in all its manifestations, negotiating racial, sexual and religious prejudices and histories.

Deborah Kelly has exhibited widely including the collaborative project boat-people.org, the prize-winning public artwork series Hey, hetero! (created with Tina Fiveash), and Beware of the God commissioned by the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia in 2005. Kelly’s work has been exhibited at the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014) and the 2008 Singapore Biennale.

20 July 2018


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