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Vernon Ah Kee

Author 
Andrew Frost

“Vernon Ah Kee was born in North Queensland and is of the Kuku Yalandji, Waanji, Yidindji and Gugu Yimithirr peoples. He has been living in Brisbane for over 12 years. His art is primarily a critique of Australian popular culture, specifically the black/white dichotomy.” – National Museum of Australia 

“Vernon Ah Kee’s conceptual text pieces, videos, photographs and drawings are a critique of Australian popular culture from the perspective of the Aboriginal experience of contemporary life. For the Sydney Biennale, Ah Kee exhibits 12 charcoal and pastel drawings on canvas that continue his series of portraits of his family. The focus of each subject is their ‘gaze’ — the way they look back at the viewer. Ah Kee’s drawings respond to the history of romantic and exoticised portraiture of ‘primitives’, and effectively reposition the Aboriginal in Australia from an ‘othered thing’ anchored in museum and scientific records to a contemporary people inhabiting real and current spaces and time. The drawings inhabit the space as an Aboriginal and ‘human’ presence. On gazing at the oversized portraits the viewer experiences a sense of discomfort, as the confrontational act of the stare, of facing an accuser, of exercising a right of reply, is strongly felt.” – Biennale of Sydney 2008 website 

Date 
b. 1967
Birth place
Innisfail, Queensland , Australia
Period of activity 
from 1999
Related organisations
Selected events