John Fries Award Finalists

The John Fries Award is a $10,000 non-acquisitive award recognising the talents of early career visual artists from Australia and New Zealand.

After previewing 400 entries into the 2020 John Fries Award curator Miriam Kelly reduced the final list to 17 entries from which the judging panel selected the following finalists:
• Darcey Bella Arnold, Melbourne, VIC – painting
• Daniel Jenatsch, Melbourne, VIC – sound, video, installation
• Sara Morawetz, Sydney, NSW/New York, USA – performance, video, installation
• Ryan Presley, Brisbane, QLD – painting, drawing, performance
• JD Reforma, Sydney, NSW – video, installation
• Melanie Jame Wolf, Melbourne, VIC/Berlin, Germany – performance, sound, video, installation
• Shevaun Wright, Melbourne, VIC/Los Angeles, USA – installation

2020 is the 11th, and final year for the Award which has been widely recognised for its role in supporting artists as well as enriching Australia’s cultural life and community. Thoughout its lifetime the award has offered early career artists an opportunity to showcase their vision.

This years finalists have drawn together a broad spectrum of practice. Daniel Jenatsch, Sara Morawetz and Melanie Jame Wolf have all exhibited performance and multimedia works throughout Australia and internationally; Darcey Bella Arnold and Ryan Presley engage with the poetics and politics of space and labour in painting; JD Reforma and Shevaun Wright use humour in their sampling and re-composition of texts from our everyday to consider the construction of power relations and suppression of histories.

The winner of the award will be announced on 25 September 2020 at the UNSW Galleries, kicking off a month-long exhibition from 25 September to 21 November 2020.

The John Fries Award 2020 winner will be determined by a panel of guest judges: Dr Cherine Fahd, director of photography at University of Technology Sydney; Jaklyn Babington, senior curator of Contemporary Art Practice at the National Gallery of Australia; Stephen Gilchrist, Indigenous writer, curator and associate lecturer of Indigenous Art at the University of Sydney; and Dr Kath Fries, artist, former board member of Viscopy and daughter of the late John Fries.

The Fries family established the award in 2010 in memory of former Viscopy director and honorary treasurer John Fries, who made a remarkable contribution to the life and success of the organisation.

Image copyrite: Sara Morawetz, 61/60 (027) 2016–, life-long single-second performance series, photographic documentation. Courtesy the artist. Information courtesy of

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