If I was white
- Artist/s name
- Vernon Ah Kee
- inkjet print on polystyrene board on polyvinyl chloride
- (a-dd) 238.5 x 137.5 cm (image) (variable) (overall) 252.5 x 151.5 cm (sheet) (variable) (overall)
- Place/s of Execution
- Brisbane, Queensland
- ed. 1/5
- Accession Number
- Credit Line
- National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
© Vernon Ah Kee, courtesy Milani Gallery
- Gallery Location
- Gallery 1
Ground Level, NGV Australia
Vernon Ah Kee’s work is primarily a critique of Australian popular culture, specifically the Black/White dichotomy that locates itself in his work.
If I was white comprises a set of 30 small texts with the supra-title, ‘If I was White’. The text-based installation speaks directly to a white audience through an (invisible) chorus of black voices. One reads, ‘If I was White I could walk down the street and people would pay no particular attention to me.’ Beneath, in smaller text, Ah Kee expands on this matter-of-fact observation: ‘White people in particular have little understanding of Whiteness even though every White person in the country is an experienced practitioner. Black people however, do have some understanding of Whiteness.’ This text continues for the entire page, and another, and another. In this fashion, Ah Kee turns the notion of extremity into a stream of thoughts and observations that becomes a river.
This text-based installation work reveals and condemns the widespread and inescapable discrimination and racial stereotyping that Indigenous Australians have experienced since European colonisation and continue to experience in everyday life.