Vernon Ah Kee is a talented contemporary artist who works with a number of mediums and produces particularly stunning portraits, but it was his text based work that first really got me. This work is politically, humanly and possibly artistically challenging in his reflections on what it is like to be indigenous in Australia today.
When I first saw this piece, it was the first time I’d really encountered this type of text based art. At first it might seem simplistic and far too understated to be art but each letter, word, phrase, positioning and text included is the result of a feeling, an idea and a choice made to communicate just some of his experience. And for many of us this is an experience that is very outside of our own but it is part of life in contemporary Australia - something we may not think about much, therefore unintentionally perpetuating the status quo. Ah Kee doesn’t believe the current status quo as all there is, he knows there is something better and through his artwork, I think he hopes to keep on reminding us all of that.
“Ah Kee’s artistic practice has a valuable role in the discourse that is contemporary Aboriginal art. Asserting the authenticity of urban Aboriginal identities and therefore the authenticity of urban Aboriginal cultural production, connects Ah Kee with a proud history of urban Aboriginal activitism, a role that arguably has facilitated enormous developments in the awareness and recognition of Aboriginal rights nationally and internationally. Aboriginal art should be as varied as Aboriginal people, and the political strength of Aboriginal art today may be that it is an expression of contemporary Aboriginal sovereignty in action.”
p51 Artlink Vol 30 no 1 Sovereign Warrior by Garry Jones
we/grew/here - part of the CantChant exhibition at the Venice Benienalle in 2009
Selected works :
Images of some texted based works:
images of portraits:
interesting little overview of Vernon Ah Kee:
Images I’ve used are from: