Vernon Ah Kee

tall man


In Tate Modern

Level 3: A Year in Art: Australia 1992

Level 3: A Year in Art: Australia 1992
Vernon Ah Kee born 1967
Video, 4 projections, colour and sound (stereo)
Duration: 11min, 7sec
Tate and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia, with support from the Qantas Foundation 2015, purchased 2016

Display caption

tall man reveals the ongoing effects of colonisation in contemporary Australia. The work depicts events from November 2004 on Palm Island, an island off the coast of Queensland. A local man, Mulrunji Doomadgee (also known as Cameron Doomadgee) died in police custody. Protests followed, and the police station, local courthouse and police barracks were burnt down. One of the central figures leading the protests was Lex Wotton, a member of the Palm Island Aboriginal Council. Ah Kee presents him as the ‘tall man’ – an Aboriginal term for a bogey man or spirit who elicits the truth from wrongdoers. Wotton later won a lawsuit, alongside other Palm Island residents, which found that the police had illegally discriminated against them. 

Gallery label, August 2021

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