Meth Kelly

29 April 2022 - 14 May 2022

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 - 14 May 2022


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




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.

Continuing Thornton’s confrontation with Australia’s colonial history by questioning the legitimacy of Kelly’s hero status, this work presents a modern reinterpretation of his moral persona. Subverting the national narrative, Thornton transforms Kelly into a ‘meth-head robbing a 7Eleven.’ In placing his protagonist in a banal (sub)urban delinquent realm, Thornton undermines Australia’s tendency to define its history by valorising colonial conquests.

“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.”

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