John Fries Award 2014

Art Life , Exhibitions Aug 18, 2014 No Comments

From Stella Rosa McDonald

At the entrance to the John Fries Award sit two pairs of lovers. To the left is Julian Day’s Requiem, in which two keyboards are acoustically fused together by metal columns that force single notes on both instruments to play simultaneously and forever. To the right is Justin Balmain’s Close, a video in which two emoji’s brutally enact the breakup scene from Mike Nichols’ film Closer in an endless digital loop. As two forms of breaking up or dispersal the fused and feuding lovers are a fitting entrance to this year’s award, which is characterized by its preference for ‘digital natives’.

John Fries


The conflict between real life and life onscreen is a common theme in many of the selections, as is the cultural currency of empathy and the construction of the image. Many of the artists, including Hamishi Farah, Daniel McKewen, Samuel Hodge and Anna Kristensen absorb digital strategies to tackle representations IRL. Hamishi Farah’s Apologies depicts a growing narrative of contrition via tweets sent to the artist from airlines and telecommunication companies in response to minor complaints, all printed on an exaggerated oversized t-shirt. Kristensen’s Desert Window, which is a literal reframing of a found online image, is an elegant indictment on the usefulness of reproduction post-Internet. Bridie Lunney won this year’s prize with her sculptural performance piece This Endless Becoming. Lunney’s work depicts both the instance and aftermath of contact, and while the particularly illustrative curation leaves no doubts as to interpretation, This Endless Becoming maintains some invisibility to remain enigmatic. No small feat these days.

Until September 6th
UNSW Galleries, Paddington
Pic credit: Bridie Lunney, This Endless Becoming, 2014. Photo: Tim Levy

Stella Rosa McDonald

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