Watch Kelli Jean’s artist profile for TEDx

Kelli Jean Drinkwater is an artist and activist recognised internationally for her creative practice and voice in radical body politics. Kelli Jean uses the body as a site to explore themes of identity, queer and feminist theory and society’s obsession with “perfection”. She takes the iconic and subverts it through the filter of her fatness. Often confrontational, her work aims to investigate the complex relationship we all have with our bodies.

With a BA in Visual Arts from the University of Newcastle and having studied film at UC Irvine in California, Kelli Jean is an interdisciplinary artist creating within and outside the genres of performance, photography, fashion, film and sound.

Reoccurring themes in her work are ideas of taking up space, queering fat embodiment and how this reclamation can transform realities and re-imagine the potential of self and community. Her work is motivated by how these ideas intersect with gender, race, class and ableism. These interests often manifest in a desire to explore what is considered forbidden and prohibitive to the (fat) female body.

Collaboration is a major part of Kelli Jean’s practice and she has had the privilege of working with some of the most respected artists in their field.

Collaborations with award winning choreographers and directors such as Kate Champion and Shelly Love as well as artists Justin Shoulder, Scottee, Penelope Benton and Alex Clapham, have been featured in major international galleries, festivals and magazines.

Kelli Jean has performed, hosted and curated events in London (UK) for Club Antisocial, Duckie and The Place. Recent performances include Force Majeure’s Nothing to Lose for Sydney Festival and Dance Massive at The Malthouse Theatre in Melbourne, NightCraft for MCA’s Artbar, Tableau Vivant for Underbelly Arts Festival, MonstaGras at The Red Rattler Theatre and Department H in Tokyo. She is a resident artist with The Glitter Militia performance collective in Sydney, Australia.

Her most recent collaboration with Kate Champion on Force Majeures’ Nothing to Lose, was an opportunity fuse her passions as a performer, theatre maker and sound curator to help create a work that resonated politically and personally. Co-commissioned by Sydney Festival and Carriageworks, Nothing to Lose continues to receive critical and audience acclaim.

Her film Aquaporko! won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at Mardi Gras Film Festival 2013 and has been in official selection at 38 international film festivals to date including, Melbourne Queer Film Festival, InsideOut Toronto, Frameline San Francisco and OutFest London and MIX Festival Copenhagen.

Kelli Jean is currently in production on an independent documentary film focusing on the cast of Nothing to Lose.


Image credit: Simian Coates

Cover image by Toby Burrows