Justine Youssef
Somewhat Eternal
Co-curator w Tulleah Pearce & Patrice Sharkey
Commissioning Editor
UTS, IMA & ACE 2023-2024

Somewhat Eternal (2023) is a multi-sensory installation, encompassing video, textiles, text, and scent. The exhibition toured across three venues from 2023-24 and included a publication with newly commissioned writing reflecting on Justine’s work, designed by Ziga Testen and Sunny Lei.

Central to the exhibtion is a three-channel video shot in Lebanon—showing the artist’s aunt performing R'sasa, or molybdomancy, a traditional alchemic practice of clearing the evil eye. For generations, the artist's family have used their knowledge of the local mountains and ecology to survive famine and military occupation and to heal everyday ailments and misfortunes. From 1982 to 2000, parts of Lebanon were under Israeli occupation, and the lead used in R'sasa is often extracted from bullets still found in the region. Through this material connection, Youssef asks us to consider colonisation as a curse that inhabits and influences social and cultural life.

Somewhat Eternal expands from familial narratives to consider broader social and political currents, revealing the connections between human displacement and ecology. Within these acts of ritual and preservation, now fragmented and altered across geographies, lies a belief in the alternatives they offer us.

Somewhat Eternal is a co-commission by Adelaide Contemporary Experimental, the Institute of Modern Art, and UTS Gallery & Art Collection. It is supported by the Creative Australia’s Visual Arts and Crafts Strategy (VACS) Major Commissioning Projects fund and the Gordon Darling Foundation.