The Image as its own Undoing
Vernon Ah Kee, Sandra Brewster, Alan Michelson, Scott Benesiinaabandan
Vernon Ah Kee’s conceptual text pieces, videos, photographs and drawings form a critique of Australian popular culture from the perspective of the Aboriginal experience of contemporary life. He particularly explores the dichotomy between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal societies and cultures. Ah Kee’s works respond to the history of the 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.
Ah Kee is a descendant of the Kuku Yalandji, Waanji, Yidindji, Koko Berrin and Gugu Yimithirr peoples. Born 1967 in Innisfail, North Queensland, Australia. Lives and works in Brisbane, Australia. Ah Kee’s work has been exhibited in a number of significant national and international exhibitions, including: ‘A Year in Art: Australia 1992’ (2021), Tate Modern, London; ’unDisclosed’: 2nd National Indigenous Art Triennial’, National Gallery of Australia (2012); ‘SALTWATER: A Theory of Thought Forms’ 14th Istanbul Biennial (2015); ’Ideas of Barack’, National Gallery of Victoria (2011); ’Revolutions: Forms that turn’, the 16th Biennale of Sydney (2008); ‘Once Removed’, Australian Pavilion, Venice Biennale (2009); and ’Sakahàn: International Indigenous Art’, National Gallery of Canada (2013). Recent major group shows of his work include: ‘The National: New Australian Art (2020)’, Carraigeworks, Sydney; ’Body Language’ (2019), National Gallery of Australia; ‘When Silence Falls’, Art Gallery of New South Wales (2015-16); ‘Encounters’, National Museum of Australia (2015-16); ‘Brutal Truths’, Griffith University Art Gallery (2015-16); and ‘Everywhen: The Eternal Present in Indigenous Art from Australia’, Harvard Art Museums
(2016); . In 2020 Ah Kee presented a major new work as part of his solo exhibition ‘The Island’ at Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney. Ah Kee’s work is held in a number of major collections within Australia and overseas including the Tate Modern, London.