Vernon Ah Kee
  • Vernon Ah Kee, corpse table negotiation, 2016 vinyl banner. Photograph by Carl Warner.


Vernon Ah Kee

Inaugural IMA Courtyard Commission

30 July–3 February 201730 Jul–3 Feb 2017


The IMA Courtyard Commission is an ongoing commissioning platform engaging with Australian and international artists to produce dynamic public artwork. For this first commission, Vernon Ah Kee builds on his powerful use of language with the new work, corpse table negotiation, 2016.

The outdoor work confronts the unequal dynamic at the heart of any dialogue between Aboriginal people and the state: there is an implicit rule that nobody should talk about the dead bodies (massacres, detention, deaths in custody, etc.); yet for Aboriginal people, the spectre of history must be addressed before proceeding with any negotiations. And at any negotiating table set up by the government, participants are strategically selected in advance to ensure that the conversation can be controlled and the outcomes predicted. Despite this management, corpse table negotiation is a potent reminder that the bodies are always under the table, staring upward.

Curated By
  • Aileen Burns and Johan Lundh

The Institute of Modern Art acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land upon which the IMA now stands, the Jagera, Yuggera, Yugarapul, and Turrbal people. We offer our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people as the first artists of this country. In the spirit of allyship, the IMA will continue to work with First Nations people to celebrate, support, and present their immense past, present, and future contribution to artistic practice and cultural expression.