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Duha Ali & Justine Youssef

Opening 01.08.18 6-8pm
Artist Talks 23.08.18 6-7pm

Cartography, the practice of drawing maps, is a powerful geo-political tool. We understand it to be a determining force in reflecting geographic knowledge, political agendas and social stereotypes. The consequences of colonial map-making, and the ‘carving-up’ of our ancestral lands in both Kurdistan and Lebanon by foreign powers, continue to shape the world and our transgenerational experiences in the diaspora today.

Body/Cartography draws upon rituals from our respective origins to explore the confluence of cultures and underlying tensions: between legacy and contemporaneity, geographical space and the visceral body. The exhibition is centered around video work which documents our collaborative performance and references residual histories of architecture. It is filmed within the walls of the old Darlinghurst goal which is presently occupied by the National Art School, where Eurocentric paradigms of art history remain the dominant modes of teaching. The site’s history, as one of Australia’s oldest and best-preserved examples of colonial sandstone architecture, is crucial to contextualising our exploration of legacy, ritual and space.

Using rugs salvaged from South-West Sydney’s hard rubbish collection, and through collaborative performance, we recreate a cleansing ritual passed onto us by our mothers. The rugs become symbols of displacement, cultural strength, female resilience and gender roles. They represent active sites of women’s roles as anonymous carriers and preservers of heritage, allowing for us to speak to legacies of colonisation that lie behind our experiences, and develop a space for the healing of transgenerational wounds.



Duha Ali is a Kurdish and Arabic artist (b. 1991, Ilam, Iran). She works across a range of mediums including performance, film, textiles and ceramics. Her practice is primarily concerned with exploring her lived experience as a displaced Arab/Kurd, as well as her cultural inheritance through a post-colonial framework. Her work delves into familial and cultural customs through a diasporic and contemporary lens. Ali has performed, exhibited and shared her video work in artist-run initiatives and art institutions across Australia.

Justine Youssef is a contemporary artist who is currently living and working on the unceded territory of the Darug people. Her practice is site-responsive and attentive to her respective origins in South-West Asia. She works across multiple disciplines through her artistic practice, including performance, video, scent and collaboration. The work is rooted in research into moments and places which allow her to move through questions surrounding neo-colonial rhetoric, feminist lenses, and diasporic and material exchanges.

In 2017 Ali and Youssef received their Bachelor and Honours of Fine Arts from the National Art School. They have held a collaborative solo exhibition at Seventh Gallery, Melbourne, for which they were awarded the New South Wales Artists’ Grant (Create NSW). Further than this, they have participated in group exhibitions at the Hoff Project Space, Darlinghurst; and Airspace Projects, Marrickville. Their recent work has been developed through studio residencies at Blacktown Arts, Blacktown; and the Parramatta Artist Studios, Parramatta.

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