“I heard something really disturbing that Google said: one day you’ll never have to be bored, because they’ll provide the entertainment and I find that kind of scary. It’s nice to kind of stare at the wall or out into – you know … ” says artist Justine Varga, who will open her fifth solo show, Sounding Silence, at Stills Gallery in Paddington on February 19.

The photographer graduated with Honours from the National Art School in 2007, and has since been shown extensively around the country, notably at the 2012 Primavera (MCA) and at the Art Gallery of NSW. Throughout the growth in appreciation for her work, Varga has built a reputation for her unusual loyalty to analog technologies. It’s in keeping with her romantic nature that she is hesitant to attribute this, or her work, to any particular agenda, saying, “I really like people to just bring themselves and their own ideas to the work. The works are very minimal and emptied. [They] provide a space for people to think and reflect. I don’t really tell people what to think at all.”

Varga’s affinity with the dark room was sparked during a Year 8 art class at Windsor’s Pede Bolding College, and has helped keep her work outside the pervasive norms that dog many of her contemporaries; digitalisation and notions of the instantaneous. “My images are kind of slow images; counteracting the speed of imagery that we encounter through the mainstream media,” she says. Her concern with grounding her works in the material is linked to meditations on speed, time, light and space.

Varga, who shared the Josephine Ulrick and Win Scubert Photography Award with Liam Benson last year for Moving Out #1, also works with photograms. A process used extensively by the artist Man Ray, who coined them “rayographs,” objects are placed directly against the film and exposed to different light exposures removing the need for a camera. “I thought to myself, ‘what’s the difference between using a digital image, or an analogue?’ – the film surface. And so I decided to get rid of the camera as an intermediary between what I was photographing and the materiality [of the finished piece].”


Sounding Silence will run from the February 19 to the March 22 at Stills Gallery at 36 Gosbell Street, Paddington.