Justine Varga (AU)
Image: Justine Varga, Alchemical., from Tachisme, 2018. Courtesy the artist.
Justine Varga is known for her luminous photographs, some made with a camera and some without (and some made with a combination of the two). Employing techniques that deserve comparison with the earliest nineteenth-century photographic experiments, Varga’s work has been described as an autobiographical witnessing of the world—a memoire, rather than merely an act of representation.
Film registers performative gestures—is drawn upon, handled, scratched, spat on, weathered, or absorb aspects of her everyday life. Exposed to light for long periods, the film is processed and then printed at large scale in the darkroom, itself a process of transformation. Functioning as ‘ravaged memorials to lived experience’, the works appear to be abstractions but are in fact rigorous distillations of the real.
Varga was the winner of the 2019 Dobell Drawing Prize and has made a steady ascent since graduating with Honours from the National Art School, Sydney, in 2007. Accolades include the Olive Cotton Award for Photographic Portraiture (2017) and twice receiving the Josephine Ulrick & Win Shubert Foundation for the Arts Photography Award (2013, 2016).