Indigenous artist who coined term ‘Blak’ dies in Melbourne

Destiny Deacon, Indigenous artist has died.
Image: Destiny Deacon/Supplied

Tributes have flowed for a trailblazing Indigenous photographer and multimedia artist, credited with coining the term “Blak”, following her death in Melbourne.

Warning: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised this article contains the name of a person who’s died.

Roslyn Oxley Gallery, which represented Aboriginal artist and activist Destiny Deacon, confirmed the Queensland-born queer creative has died.

The Sydney gallery paid tribute to Destiny, who worked across photography, video, sculpture and installation, as a “pioneering artist and cherished friend” for over 20 years.⁠

“Destiny’s work, known for its witty and incisive exploration of Indigenous identity, political activism, and cultural resilience, has left an indelible mark on the Australian art landscape and beyond,” the gallery said.

“Destiny’s legacy will continue to inspire and resonate with future generations, serving as a potent impetus for social change and collective healing.⁠

“Vale Destiny Deacon. Your sharp sense of humour, warmth and enduring spirit will be greatly missed.⁠”


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‘Witty, cut-through black urban art’

Indigenous academic Marcia Langton told the ABC her friend was “a superstar in the art scene in Australia”.

“Destiny’s work will remain the standard for political art, for witty, cut-through, black, urban art,” Langton said.

“Her work was feminist and intersectional, free of heteronormative restrictions.”


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Artist Destiny Deacon is widely credited with coining the term “Blak” for Indigenous Australians as a way of reclaiming it.

Roslyn Oxley Gallery said Destiny’s triptych Blak lik mi (1991-2003) is widely accepted as the first use of the spelling.

Destiny herself told SBS in 2020, “Growing up, I always heard the words ‘You little black c___s’ from white people. Having ‘black c___s’ shouted at us is still common.

“I just wanted to take the ‘C’ out of ‘black.’”

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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