Justine Youssef: All Blessings, All Curses

SYDNEY. 2 NOVEMBER – 16 DECEMBER 2018.

All Blessings, All Curses presents recent and newly commissioned works by Sydney-based artist, Justine Youssef. Born in the heart of Western Sydney, Youssef’s practice negates the stifling white heat of global xenophobia with deeply personal and universal ruminations that layer the smell, sights and textures of her ancestral homeland, Lebanon.

The strength of Justine Youssef’s practice lies in the poetics of her storytelling and observations: a teacher blackens Arabic script, fearing that it contains a religious hate message; a smoke detector deafeningly sounds as a mother burns bakhoor to rid the house of the evil eye; the looks of confusion two girls receive as they scrub clean a Persian rug in their driveway. These scenes represent the lived experience of the artist who transforms everyday occurrences into visual metaphors.

Justine Youssef’s intuitive methodology draws upon this archive of personal memories as a departure point for All blessing, all curses. Employing sculpture, video, installation and text, Youssef examines the difficult experiences of misunderstanding with the grand subjects of faith, love, family and home. In doing so, she creates immersive experiences that are both epic and intimate – whispering invocations of promise, comfort and resistance.

Justine Youssef (b. 1992) is currently living on the unceded territory of the Darug peoples. She received her Bachelor of Fine Art from the National Art School, Sydney, Australia and is currently working from the Parramatta Artist Studios. She has been awarded the New South Wales Artists’ Grant (NAVA and Create NSW), as well as a studio residency at Blacktown Arts. She has held collaborative solo exhibitions at Seventh Gallery, Melbourne, and Firstdraft, Woolloomooloo with Duha Ali in 2018, and has participated in group exhibitions at Airspace Projects, Marrickville; Bankstown Art Center, Bankstown; Sullivan+Strumpf, Zetland; and Collab Gallery, Chippendale. Her work can be found in the collections of the National Association for the Visual Arts; the National Art School Drawing Archive; and the Sydney Gallery School.

Exhibition Documentation

All images: Kai Wasikowski

A glass facade in a red brick building, with the decal words 'Justine Youssef, All Blessings, All Curses, 2 Nov - 16 Dec' stuck on the glass

Exterior view of 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, In gallery interior: Justine Youssef, All Blessings, All Curses (Blood on the earth), 2018, installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, dimensions variable, sandstone and taxidermied scorpion. Courtesy of the artist. This commission has been made possible by the generous support of the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art Set group.  Image: Kai Wasikowski.

A tiny video screen in a white gallery wall, showing a spoon with burning incense

Justine Youssef, Ashes to ashes or palm ash to your wrist, 2017, single channel video, 25 second, installation view, 4A Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

A mound of sandstone bricks on a hardwood floor

Justine Youssef, All Blessings, All Curses (Blood on the earth), 2018, sandstone and taxidermied scorpion, dimensions variable, installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art, dimensions variable, Courtesy of the artist. This commission has been made possible by the generous support of the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art Set group.  Image: Kai Wasikowski.

A mound of sandstone bricks on a hardwood floor

Justine Youssef, All Blessings, All Curses (Blood on the earth), 2018, sandstone and taxidermied scorpion, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist. This commission has been made possible by the generous support of the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art Set group.  Image: Kai Wasikowski.

An LED video screen stood up against a mound of sandstone bricks in a light-flooded gallery space

Left: Justine Youssef, Ashes to ashes or palm ash to your wrist, 2017, single channel video, 25 second, installation view, 4A Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist. Image: Kai Wasikowski. Right: Justine Youssef, All Blessings, All Curses (Blood on the earth), 2018, sandstone and taxidermied scorpion, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist. This commission has been made possible by the generous support of the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art Set group.  Image: Kai Wasikowski.

An LED video screen showing hands waving a spoon over a pot, with the subtitles 'We need to sit down, and talk,'. The screen leans against a structure of sandstone bricks

Front: Justine Youssef, All Blessings, All Curses (Blood on the earth), 2018, sandstone and taxidermied scorpion, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist. This commission has been made possible by the generous support of the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art Set group.  Image: Kai Wasikowski. Back: Justine Youssef, Ashes to ashes or palm ash to your wrist, 2017, single channel video, 25 second, installation view, 4A Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

An LED video screen showing a tanned brown hand with a gold ring and an index finger stuck into a metal bowl with coriander. The subtitle reads, 'otherwise we'd be held up in Trablous.'

Front: Justine Youssef, All Blessings, All Curses (Blood on the earth), 2018, sandstone and taxidermied scorpion, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist. This commission has been made possible by the generous support of the 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art Set group.  Image: Kai Wasikowski. Back: Justine Youssef, Ashes to ashes or palm ash to your wrist, 2017, single channel video, 25 second, installation view, 4A Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

Three photographic prints showing a few femme-presenting figures dressed in muted colours with their hair tied back with bandanas, kneeling on and scrubbing a teal green Persian rug

Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Body/Cartography, 2018, 3 channel video, 4 minutes, two rugs, 280 x 190cm and 230 x 315cm, and photographic documentation, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

Two teal green Persian rugs laid on a hardwood floor with two LED video screens stood on top, showing the same displayed rugs in other settings

Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Body/Cartography, 2018, 3 channel video, 4 minutes, two rugs, 280 x 190cm and 230 x 315cm, and photographic documentation, dimensions variable, installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

Two LED video screens on a teal green Persian rug. The screens show a series of Persian rugs laid out in other concreted spaces

Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Body/Cartography, 2018, 3 channel video, 4 minutes, two rugs, 280 x 190cm and 230 x 315cm, and photographic documentation, dimensions variable, installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. Image: Kai Wasikowski.
Two green-toned Persian rugs in a light-flooded gallery space, with two LED screens stood on top showing a woman legs-down cleaning a floor
Front: Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Body/Cartography, 2018, 3 channel video, 4 minutes, two rugs, 280 x 190cm and 230 x 315cm, and photographic documentation, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. Image: Kai Wasikowski. Back right: Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Kohl, 2018, Three channel video installation, 4 minutes, and 3 brass bowls, kohl, sandstone and clay, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. This work was produced with the support of the NAVA NSW Artist’s Grant 2017. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

A teal green Persian rug with an LED screen on top showing a series of folded Persian rugs in a tiled floor in a concrete building

Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Body/Cartography, 2018, 3 channel video, 4 minutes, two rugs, 280 x 190cm and 230 x 315cm, and photographic documentation, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

A naturally lit window sill with three groups of plates stacked in the sun

Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Kohl, 2018, Three channel video installation, 4 minutes, and 3 brass bowls, kohl, sandstone and clay, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. This work was produced with the support of the NAVA NSW Artist’s Grant 2017. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

Close-up of black glazed clay bowls and brass bowls

Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Kohl, 2018, Three channel video installation, 4 minutes, and 3 brass bowls, kohl, sandstone and clay, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. This work was produced with the support of the NAVA NSW Artist’s Grant 2017. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

A wall constructed from sandstone brick with a LED video screen showing a close-up of one half of a face with black kohl painted over a closed eyelid

Front: Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Kohl, 2018, Three channel video installation, 4 minutes, and 3 brass bowls, kohl, sandstone and clay, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. This work was produced with the support of the NAVA NSW Artist’s Grant 2017. Image: Kai Wasikowski. Back: Justine Youssef, An Other’s Wurud, 2017-ongoing, Installation incorporating photographic documentation, video and mixed media including David Austine and Burnet roses, water, two ring gas burner, gas cylinder, aluminum pot, sleve, pavers and glass bottles, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist. Image Kai Wasikowski.

A wall constructed from sandstone brick with a LED video screen showing two tanned hands tipping a clay bowl over onto the ground

Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Kohl, 2018, Three channel video installation, 4 minutes, and 3 brass bowls, kohl, sandstone and clay, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. This work was produced with the support of the NAVA NSW Artist’s Grant 2017. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

An LED video screen showing three brass bowls and a yellow tin can on a natural red rock shelf

Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Kohl, 2018, Three channel video installation, 4 minutes, and 3 brass bowls, kohl, sandstone and clay, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. This work was produced with the support of the NAVA NSW Artist’s Grant 2017. Image: Kai Wasikowski. 

Two LED video screens showing a femme-presenting woman with long brown hair in a desert landscape leaning over a set of brass bowls and a yellow tin can

Front left: Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Kohl, 2018, Three channel video installation, 4 minutes, and 3 brass bowls, kohl, sandstone and clay, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. This work was produced with the support of the NAVA NSW Artist’s Grant 2017. Image: Kai Wasikowski. Back right: Justine Youssef, An Other’s Wurud, 2017-ongoing, Installation incorporating photographic documentation, video and mixed media including David Austine and Burnet roses, water, two ring gas burner, gas cylinder, aluminum pot, sleve, pavers and glass bottles, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist. Image Kai Wasikowski.

Two LED video screens against a small sandstone brick wall, showing a video of granite rocks in brown water

Front left: Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Kohl, 2018, Three channel video installation, 4 minutes, and 3 brass bowls, kohl, sandstone and clay, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. This work was produced with the support of the NAVA NSW Artist’s Grant 2017. Image: Kai Wasikowski. Back right: Justine Youssef, An Other’s Wurud, 2017-ongoing, Installation incorporating photographic documentation, video and mixed media including David Austine and Burnet roses, water, two ring gas burner, gas cylinder, aluminum pot, sleve, pavers and glass bottles, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist. Image Kai Wasikowski.

A small brick sandstone wall, several LED TV screens and two teal green Persian rugs arranged in a white gallery space

Front: Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Kohl, 2018, Three channel video installation, 4 minutes, and 3 brass bowls, kohl, sandstone and clay, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. This work was produced with the support of the NAVA NSW Artist’s Grant 2017. Image: Kai Wasikowski. Back: Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Body/Cartography, 2018, 3 channel video, 4 minutes, two rugs, 280 x 190cm and 230 x 315cm, and photographic documentation, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

A TV screen showing hands moving over a platter with brass bowls

Front right: Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Kohl, 2018, Three channel video installation, 4 minutes, and 3 brass bowls, kohl, sandstone and clay, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. This work was produced with the support of the NAVA NSW Artist’s Grant 2017. Image: Kai Wasikowski. Back left: Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Body/Cartography, 2018, 3 channel video, 4 minutes, two rugs, 280 x 190cm and 230 x 315cm, and photographic documentation, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

Close-up of two adjoining knee-height walls built from sandstone brick, with two screens resting against their interior. Behind these walls are two deep green Persian rugs with LCD screens set up on top.

Front: Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Kohl, 2018, Three channel video installation, 4 minutes, and 3 brass bowls, kohl, sandstone and clay, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. This work was produced with the support of the NAVA NSW Artist’s Grant 2017. Image: Kai Wasikowski. Back: Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Body/Cartography, 2018, 3 channel video, 4 minutes, two rugs, 280 x 190cm and 230 x 315cm, and photographic documentation, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

Eight glass bottles filled with different coloured liquids, arranged on a hardwood gallery floor

Centre Front: Justine Youssef, An Other’s Wurud, 2017-ongoing, Installation incorporating photographic documentation, video and mixed media including David Austine and Burnet roses, water, two ring gas burner, gas cylinder, aluminum pot, sleve, pavers and glass bottles, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist. Image: Kai Wasikowski. Middle Back: Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Kohl, 2018, Three channel video installation, 4 minutes, and 3 brass bowls, kohl, sandstone and clay, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. This work was produced with the support of the NAVA NSW Artist’s Grant 2017. Image: Kai Wasikowski. Back: Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Body/Cartography, 2018, 3 channel video, 4 minutes, two rugs, 280 x 190cm and 230 x 315cm, and photographic documentation, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

A two ring gas burner, gas cylinder, aluminium pot on a pavers floor, next to two glass bottles filled with brownish liquids. On the white wall behind are two photographs.

Justine Youssef, An Other’s Wurud, 2017-ongoing, Installation incorporating photographic documentation, video and mixed media including David Austine and Burnet roses, water, two ring gas burner, gas cylinder, aluminum pot, sleve, pavers and glass bottles, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

A photograph of a female-presenting figure in a long white dress, seated with her hands working over an aluminium pot against an industrial factory backdrop. She appears to work near a production line and various stacks of cardboard boxes, while plant cuttings surround her on a wet floor.

Justine Youssef, An Other’s Wurud, 2017-ongoing, Installation incorporating photographic documentation, video and mixed media including David Austine and Burnet roses, water, two ring gas burner, gas cylinder, aluminum pot, sleve, pavers and glass bottles, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

Light coming through a gallery window onto eight glass bottles filled with different liquids, arranged next to an aluminium pot, a two ring gas burner and a gas cylinder on a pavers floor.

Justine Youssef, An Other’s Wurud, 2017-ongoing, Installation incorporating photographic documentation, video and mixed media including David Austine and Burnet roses, water, two ring gas burner, gas cylinder, aluminum pot, sleve, pavers and glass bottles, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

Light coming through a gallery window onto eight glass bottles filled with different liquids, arranged next to an aluminium pot, a two ring gas burner and a gas cylinder on a pavers floor. A photograph is mounted on the white wall behind this installation

Justine Youssef, An Other’s Wurud, 2017-ongoing, Installation incorporating photographic documentation, video and mixed media including David Austine and Burnet roses, water, two ring gas burner, gas cylinder, aluminum pot, sleve, pavers and glass bottles, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

Light coming through a gallery window onto eight glass bottles filled with different liquids, arranged next to an aluminium pot, a two ring gas burner and a gas cylinder on a pavers floor

Justine Youssef, An Other’s Wurud, 2017-ongoing, Installation incorporating photographic documentation, video and mixed media including David Austine and Burnet roses, water, two ring gas burner, gas cylinder, aluminum pot, sleve, pavers and glass bottles, dimensions variable, installation view: detail, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artist. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

A photograph of a snake on white fabric, with its head near a gold necklace with a small evil eye amulet. Underneath this photo is a print of a female-presenting figure in a long red and black striped dress with extremely long black sleeves that seem a few metres long. She stands in the desert with her left arm extended above her head and her right arm extended outwards, so the sleeves blow outwards with the wind.

Front: Justine Youssef and Leila El Rayes, Burying that which binds into the chest of my beloved, 2018, photographic documentation (of single channel video, 6 minutes), 2 photographs, installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. Image: Kai Wasikowski. Back left: Youssef and Duha Ali, Kohl, 2018, Three channel video installation, 4 minutes, and 3 brass bowls, kohl, sandstone and clay, dimensions variable, installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. This work was produced with the support of the NAVA NSW Artist’s Grant 2017. Image: Kai Wasikowski.

A photograph of a snake on white fabric, with its head near a gold necklace with a small evil eye amulet. Underneath this photo is a print of a female-presenting figure in a long red and black striped dress with extremely long black sleeves that seem a few metres long. She stands in the desert with her left arm extended above her head and her right arm extended outwards, so the sleeves blow outwards with the wind. Both photographs are mounted on a wall in front of a bigger gallery space with three green Persian rugs arranged on the floor with two LCD screens mounted on top.

Front: Justine Youssef and Leila El Rayes, Burying that which binds into the chest of my beloved, 2018, photographic documentation (of single channel video, 6 minutes), 2 photographs, installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. Image: Kai Wasikowski. Back left: Justine Youssef and Duha Ali, Body/Cartography, 2018, 3 channel video, 4 minutes, two rugs, 280 x 190cm and 230 x 315cm, and photographic documentation, dimensions variable, installation view, 4A Centre for Contemporary Asian Art. Courtesy of the artists. Image: Kai Wasikowski.