Vernon Ah Kee, “Not an Animal or a Plant”

Gallery 1:  This exhibition deals with the ongoing impact of colonialism on the way in which Australian culture perceives Aboriginal Australians. It has only been 50 years since the 1967 Referendum, which amended two racist articles from our Constitution. First, the changes allowed Parliament to make laws about Indigenous people, and second, the Census could now count Indigenous people. The title of this exhibit reflects that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders were not seen as fully human people for much of our history and that this view prevails. Amongst the many powerful portraits seen here is “Tall Man.” Other works include the famous piece “Unwritten” and the graffiti drawn on toilet doors, “Born in this Skin.” Continue reading Vernon Ah Kee, “Not an Animal or a Plant”

Tall Man

“tall man” by Vernon Ah Kee (2010) a video installation depicting the Palm Island protests in 2004, following the autopsy results of Mulrunji Doomadgee (aka Cameron Dooadgee), confirming his death at the hands of police.

The title of this work refers to the role of Councillor Lex Wotton who acted like the tall man in Aboriginal stories; the boogey man or spirit “who elicits the truth from wrong doers.” The film depicts protests against police brutality and a call for the end to deaths in custody which almost uniquely affects Indigenous Australians. “We are oppressed people,” explains a woman after this footage.