Justine Youssef wins John Fries Award

Sydney artist Justine Youssef is the winner of the 2019 John Fries Award worth $10,000.

Words: Camilla Wagstaff

Sydney-based artist Justine Youssef has taken out the 2019 John Fries Award. The $10,000 win was announced at the opening of the award exhibition at UNSW Galleries.

Youssef uncovers links between family ritual, Indigenous culture and colonial history through performance, video and installation. She won the prize for her performative video and installation work Under the table I learnt how to feed you, which calls attention to personal and collective narratives influenced by neo-colonial rhetoric, feminist lenses and diasporic and material exchanges.

“The work addresses complex collective contemporary concerns of undocumented migrant labour, cultural continuity, matrilineal learning and gentrification through a sophisticated, carefully nuanced lens,” says John Fries Award curator Miriam Kelly. “The work is simultaneously a celebration, an homage, a documentation and remembrance.”

The judges also highly commended mother-daughter duo Betty Chimney and Raylene Walatinna from South Australia for their work Nganmpa Ngura (Our Country).

The 2019 John Fries Award exhibition run until 27 July at the UNSW Galleries in Paddington, Sydney. The award is supported by the Copyright Agency.

Image: Justine Youssef, Under the table I learnt how to feed you 2019, installation view There is fiction in the spaces between: John Fries Award 2019, UNSW Galleries, Sydney. Courtesy of the artist, John Fries Award and Copyright Agency. Photo: Jessica Maurer.

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