Marking Time – cameraless photograph wins the 2016 Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award

Gold Coast City Gallery has announced the winner of this year’s Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography award and the coveted prize has gone to Justine Varga. Marking Time is a chromogenic, hand printed, cameraless photograph that sits at the edge of forgetfulness. Or so it has been described. This piece questions our traditional notion of photography as a piece of film that has been drawn on and handled rather than the image captured in a more ‘traditional’ manner. It is a conclusion of marks, actions and moments that effortlessly seem to slip into the next. The drawn layers manifest the act of remembering as a kind of magic writing pad.

This year’s exhibition was judged by professor Susan Best, Program Convenor of Fine Art and Art Theory at Griffith University’s Queensland College of Art.

“The finalists in this year’s Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award show the remarkable range of visual and technological possibilities in contemporary photography: everything from daguerreotype to digital, as well as tintype, photogram and classic black and white. You really need to see them in the flesh to appreciate this diversity. From this strong field, I’ve picked Marking Time by Justine Varga as the winner of the 2016 Award. This exquisite photogram is conceptually and visually abstract and yet at the same time richly suggestive of materiality, touch and texture. Congratulations to all of the finalists and especially to Justine for her winning entry,’ Ms Best commented.

Justine Varga is no stranger to this Award. Last year her piece 6 months, 2 weeks (2013) was amongst the finalists and in 2013 the prize was jointly awarded to Liam Benson and Ms Varga.

Ms Varga is an established and accomplished artist. She creates photographic works that bring together a strip of film and the world that comes to be inscribed on it. She uses analogue techniques, with or without a camera, to capture instantaneous moments or distill lengthy durational periods. She has been fascinated by photography her whole life and already in her teenage years found the dark room at school to be a certain kind of refuge. She has described photography as “a space where I can be alone in my thoughts, observe and record.”

The analogue processes plays an important part in her work. It has drawn her focus and concentration to the surface of film. It has also emphasised that fundamental difference between analogue and digital and has led to her exploiting its materiality within works. This exploration and fascination becomes more than obvious in Marking Time.

Ms Varga graduated from the National Art School in 2007 in Sydney and her career has been widely recognised. Her works have been included in major photography exhibitions both in Australia and internationally and acquired for the collections of the National Gallery of Australia, the Art Gallery of New South Wales and Artbank, as well as for private collections in Australia, New Zealand, China and France.

Gold Coast City Gallery Director Tracy Cooper-Lavery agreed that over the years the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography award has become a significant and anticipated annual event for the Gallery.

“Once again the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award considers the best in contemporary photography and represents an extraordinarily diverse range of artworks that push the photographic medium,” said Ms Cooper-Lavery.

The 2016 Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award exhibition be on display at Gold Coast City Gallery from 25 June until 21 August.

Anna Itkonen


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