Collection Online
inkjet print on polystyrene board on polyvinyl chloride
(a-dd) 238.5 × 137.5 cm (image) (variable) (overall) 252.5 × 151.5 cm (sheet) (variable) (overall)
Place/s of Execution
Brisbane, Queensland
ed. 1/5
Accession Number
Indigenous Art
Credit Line
National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne
Purchased, 2003
© Vernon Ah Kee, courtesy Milani Gallery
This digital record has been made available on NGV Collection Online through the generous support of The Vizard Foundation
Gallery location
Not on display
About the work

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.