The Sky's The Limit


You’re as likely to see Deborah Kelly’s artwork in the sky as you are in a gallery: she has projected images onto clouds over Sydney and Singapore. As a founding member of, an art gang who make public work around race and nation, she helped project an image of HMAS Endeavour and the words BOAT PEOPLE onto the Sydney Opera House during the 2001 election campaign. Her award-winning work has been exhibited around the world, including, notably, at the Singapore and Venice biennales.

In 2009, Deborah organised the Tank Man Tango, a distributed memorial for those who died in Tiananmen Square in 1989. The memorial was staged in more than 20 cities and the resulting video work has been shortlisted for the 2010 Reeldance Awards. Later this month, Deborah will give a keynote address at the Next Wave Festival.

Her work is fearless — but she’s still a bit scared of economists, as you’ll discover.

1. What’s the headline you’d most like to see on the front page of a daily newspaper?
Massive Upgrade For Free Public Transport Network.

2. If you could oblige everyone in Australia to click through to one webpage, which one would it be?
EVERYONE? What could possibly make sense to us all, at once? Nothing. But in the meantime, here’s the utterly sulphuric I Blame The Patriarchy — should you ever feel your feminism falter.

3. What is one thing you’ve always wondered about economics but were too afraid to ask?
Unfortunately there are hundreds of things I’ve always wondered about economics — and I’m STILL too afraid to ask.

4. When did you last eat a meat pie?
1966. Eeuw.

5. What’s the oldest thing in your fridge?
A block of belachan, had it for YEARS. It starts off as fermented fish paste, so it can’t go any off-er.

6. Has anyone got a climate change policy you agree with? Who?
I’m afraid I think that a climate change policy of the necessary magnitude would render any party who proposed it entirely unelectable.

7. When was the first time you changed your mind on something important?
I was extremely religious as a child, but I lost my faith — all of a sudden — in the face of public cruelty practiced by a nun.

8. What’s the household chore you relish the most?
I relish the results but only endure the process.

9. What sort of shoes do you wear to work?
Converse. On special days, Converse with sequins.

10. What campaigning tactic do you most want to see in this year’s federal election?
Well, I’d love the John Howard Ladies Auxiliary to succeed in their efforts to surround Canberra with an Abbott-proof fence.

11. Nominate a new public holiday.
Could we drop the Aussie-swazi associations of 26 January but keep the fireworks and the picnics and instead … celebrate my birthday?

12. If you could go tomorrow anywhere in Australia for a holiday, where would you go?
My beautiful studio at UTS in Haymarket, Sydney. In a flash.

13. What’s your favourite YouTube video?
Just the one? Jeez. I love that English language school ad set in the office of the German Coast Guard.

14. If you were given $5 million, what would you spend it on?
Family, friends, nieces’ and nephews’ educations, and artwork. A foundation for artists’ participation in the public sphere. Solar panels. A puppy!

15. Who would you most like to sit next to on a long haul flight?
Ursula Le Guin. Could we travel in business class, please?

16. What trivia question/topic will you beat everyone else in the pub to the buzzer on?
Feminist cartoonists of the 1980s. No, really! I once went to a quiz night that had a whole surprise section on this topic — I totally cleaned up.

17. Complete this sentence. I’d like to hear Kevin Rudd say …
"Mr Brown, could you please form a coalition with us so we can hold government?"

18. Name someone in Australian public life who deserves a promotion.
Fiona Winning, who was director of Sydney’s Performance Space for nearly 10 years. She is so steadfast and brilliant. Someone should give her a practical, ongoing commissioning multi-artform budget.

19. In 10 words or less, summarise your food philosophy.
If you couldn’t bear to kill it, don’t eat it.

20. What question should we ask our next interviewee?
What will make us take the action needed to prevent environmental disaster?

BONUS QUESTION from last week’s interviewee:
What’s your best dad joke so I can tell my mum?
A man walks into a bar. While he’s waiting to be served, he hears a chorus of little voices. They say, "That tie really suits you," "You’re looking really well," and "Wow! Your shirt totally brings out the colour of your eyes." When the bartender arrives, the man asks if he too can hear something. "Oh, that’ll be the nuts," replies the bartender. "They’re complimentary."

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.