Late viewing: Warwick Thornton

Image: Warwick Thornton, Meth Kelly (video still), 2020. High definition 4K digital video, colour, stereo sound 4 minutes 4 seconds. Commissioned for the Biennale of Sydney 2020: NIRIN.   Warwick Thornton. Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery.


29 April 2022

Friday, 4-7pm (AEST)


Anna Schwartz Gallery [i]
185 Flinders Ln, Melbourne
Tue – Fri, 12pm – 5pm
Sat, 1pm – 5pm


Free, no bookings required

Join us for a late night viewing of Meth Kelly by Warwick Thornton.

Warwick Thornton’s bold video 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”

Created for the 22nd Biennale of Sydney (2020)

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  • Warwick Thornton (AU)

    Born 1970, Mparntwe (Alice Springs), Australia

    Lives and works Alice Springs, Australia


    The art of War­wick Thorn­ton draws from his acclaimed career as a cin­e­matog­ra­ph­er and award win­ning film direc­tor. In his art prac­tice, Thorn­ton is inter­est­ed in nego­ti­at­ing the pres­ence in con­tem­po­rary land­scapes, and traces with­in colo­nial his­to­ry, of indige­nous Aus­tralians. His oeu­vre utilis­es pho­tog­ra­phy, film and video to con­cep­tu­alise time, space, iden­ti­ty, mem­o­ry, and the social condition.