Destiny Deacon worked as a teacher, before turning to photography and film to stimulate public ideas about Aboriginal politics. She has exhibited widely nationally and internationally since 1990, initially contributing to exhibitions and events organised by the Boomalli Aboriginal Artists Co-operative. Her connections with Aboriginal activists such as Charles Perkins and artists including Brenda L Croft, Fiona Foley and Lisa Bellear during this time indicated Deacon’s place as an important socially conscious artist during a period when Aboriginal civic issues were only beginning to be noticed.
In 2005 the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney held a major retrospective of Deacon’s work titled Walk & don’t look blak, which toured to the Metropolitan Museum of Photography in Tokyo, the Tjibao Cultural Centre, Noumea, New Caledonia and Wellington City Gallery, New Zealand. In 2002 Deacon was chosen for Documenta II in Kassel, Germany and she has been included in many other important survey exhibitions such as the Havana Biennial in 1994 and 2009, the Biennale of Sydney in 2000 and 2008, the inaugural National Indigenous Art Triennial 2007: Culture Warriors at the National Gallery of Australia, the Yokohama Triennale in 2001, the Adelaide Biennial in 2000, the Australian Perspecta in 1999 and 1993 and the 1st Johannesburg Biennale in 1995. Other group exhibitions include Rising Tide: Film and Video Works from the MCA Collection, Sydney and Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego 2009, Half Light: Portraits from Black Australia at the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 2008, Yours, Mine & Ours: 50 years of ABC TV, Penrith Regional Gallery 2007; Why Pictures Now, Museum Moderner Kunst (MUMOK), Vienna in 2006; Image & Imagination, Le Mois de la Photo à Montréal, Canada in 2006; High Tide: Currents in Contemporary Australian Art, Zacheta National Gallery of Art, Warsaw in 2006 and Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius, Lithuania.
Deacon’s work is held in most major public collections in Australia as well as Museum Moderner Kunst (MUMOK), Stifting Ludwig Vienna, Austria and Museum Sammlung Essl, Austria.
There is a seductive element to much of her work, which is hardly surprising given that Destiny is a seductress, using humour and satire as the veil to conceal, then reveal her real intent – lifting the mask of bigotry and ignorance of non-Indigenous Australia.
Brenda L. Croft, ‘A date with Destiny’, catalogue essay, Walk and don’t look blak, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, 2005, p 50