War­wick Thornton
PHO­TO 2022: Meth Kelly

29th April – 14th May 2022
Anna Schwartz Gallery

PHO­TO 2022 and Anna Schwartz Gallery will present Meth Kel­ly by War­wick Thorn­ton for this year’s festival.

Meth Kel­ly explores how Australia’s colo­nial fron­tier nar­ra­tive has been shaped by the imag­i­nary hero­ic actions of the cult fig­ure Ned Kelly.

The work con­tin­ues Thornton’s con­fronta­tion with Australia’s colo­nial his­to­ry by ques­tion­ing the legit­i­ma­cy of Kelly’s hero sta­tus through a mod­ern rein­ter­pre­ta­tion of his moral per­sona. Sub­vert­ing the nation­al nar­ra­tive that is root­ed in the romance of a West­ern, Thorn­ton trans­forms Kel­ly into a meth head rob­bing a 7 Eleven”. In plac­ing his pro­tag­o­nist in a banal (sub)urban delin­quent realm, far removed from cult sta­tus, Thorn­ton under­mines Australia’s ten­den­cy to define its his­to­ry by val­oris­ing colo­nial conquests.

The artist states, The prob­lem with our fron­tier, and the his­to­ry of Aus­tralia – it was writ­ten by the peo­ple who were actu­al­ly doing the shoot­ing. So the cop­per is the one to actu­al­ly write down what hap­pened at a mas­sacre. But he was the one with his fin­ger on the trig­ger. No one believes the Abo­rig­i­nal peo­ple about what hap­pened. Some­times, thank­ful­ly, some priest or some mis­sion­ary wrote the truth. That’s our history.”

a life in ques­tion will unfold
tat­too par­lour to the tote of this glass pipe
the nation shall rise up
in a hail of burn outs, black eyes and south­ern crosses”

Meth Kel­ly was com­mis­sioned for the 22nd Bien­nale of Syd­ney: NIRIN (2020).


War­wick Thornton

Meth Kel­ly, 2020
HD video, colour, sur­round sound
Com­mis­sioned for the Bien­nale of Syd­ney 2020NIRIN