Vernon Ah Kee: not an animal or a plant

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Vernon Ah Kee: not an animal or a plant
Photograph: Peter Morgan
'Authors of Devastation', 2016 (detail)

The indigenous artist responds to the 50th anniversary of the 1967 referendum, in which Aboriginal Australians were recognised as citizens

When he was born, Vernon Ah Kee was not classed as a citizen of Australia. Later that year – 1967 – a landmark referendum recognised Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders as 'people' for the purposes of the constitution and the census.

A founding member of Brisbane's proppaNOW collective (alongside artist Richard Bell), Ah Kee is known for politically-charged work. Not an Animal or a Plant features new works as well as major existing works, including his 2004 portrait series 'Fantasies of the Good' (2004), and his 2008 Biennale of Sydney work 'Born in This Skin.'

Writing about the show, TEDxSydney curator and City of Sydney councillor Jess Scully says:

The show defies erasure. There are statements everywhere, declarations of presence in text works, paintings, drawings, even custom-made surfboards that have bold black and red patterns on one side, and clouds of words on the reverse; they seem like shouts under water: I am here. We are here.

Not an Animal or a Plant is part of Sydney Festival 2017.

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