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No Human Being is Illegal

A series of photography featuring large nude figures with piece of collaged objects layered of the top of the bodies

Deborah Kelly
No Human Being Illegal
Murray Art Museum Albury, 2015
Image by Paul Temple

Deborah Kelly's past work featured a sustained investigation of two entwined threads of collaborative practice: a voluntary one in exchange with the unruly and unpredictable throng of complex living people gathered around the No Human Being Is Illegal (in all our glory) project; the other a unilateral collaboration with the dead white male painters of the western canon, as encountered in discarded art history books. These two bodies of work came together showcasing Venus Variations for the first time.

Kelly began this new body of work on her residency in New York and Germany. She questioned the works as finished gallery pieces or preliminary musings on the historical representation of supine female nudity gathered under the theme of Venus. The Venus Variations took as its catalyst for the (in all our glory) portrait of Julia Featherstone.

Created for the 19th Biennale of Sydney (2014), the work comprised of 20 life-sized photographic portraits realised through discussions, exchange and art making between the artist, the subjects and public participants. The collaboration centred upon the nude photographic portraits of individuals who were intricately involved in the process.

These raw and unornamented portraits developed over time as workshop participants added layers of archival and contemporary imagery specific to the subjects' interests, attributes and vision, conveyed to the ensemble (through written, online or personal communications) by the portrait subjects themselves.

For the better part of the last three decades, Kelly had created a prolific body of mixed-media artworks that were at once unexpected, humorous, provocative, egalitarian, challenging and profound.

Often politically motivated, her artworks explored ideas of discrimination in all its manifestations, highlighting racial, sexual and religious prejudices that exist in society today.