Lives and works in Sydney, Australia.
Shoufay Derz is an Australian artist of both German and Taiwanese ancestry. Through the mediums of photography, sculpture and video installation her artwork is a personal reflection on death and the meaning of emptiness.
Intensely process-driven, elemental and alchemical, Derz’s recent work harnesses the life-cycle of silk moths, glass and pure indigo pigment. She explores how absence is articulated through marks of presence and how the visual artist uses the known to depict the unknown just as the writer uses words to express the ineffable. Her elegiac photographs and videos are both a lament on the transience of life and a celebration of its mystery.
Derz’s works portray that experience, emotion or phenomenon that is understood but not necessarily present; that state, that enigma, which resides at just beneath the threshold of perception or beyond vision. She seeks to make ‘visible’ the invisible. By selecting aspects of a visual language of the known to depict the ‘unknown and unknowable’, her works negotiate a haunting strategy of ambivalence, hovering between an articulation of presence and a palpable absence. The fragility of life as both transient and beautiful is integral to her practice: to the images, the depicted sites at which they are set or enacted and the materials, gold, natural pigments, marble and the alchemical processes she chooses.
Shoufay Derz has been the recipient of numerous awards, residencies and grants, including two Australia Council for the Arts grants (2015; 2011). She has won the prestigious 52nd Blake Prize for Religious Art (2003), the Judges Special Mention Prize in the Churchie Emerging Art Prize (2008), and been a finalist in the Hazelhurst Art on Paper Award (2015; 2013), the Alice Prize (2014; 2006), the Bowness Photography Prize (2014; 2013), and the Fishers Ghost Award (2014; 2013; 2012; 2011).
She has exhibited her works widely, both throughout Australia and abroad, and her work has been included in major group exhibitions at The Museum of Modern Art (Shanghai), OCTA Museum of Contemporary Art (Shenzhen), and The Esplanade (Singapore).
Within Australia, Derz has also held solo exhibitions at Bathurst Regional Art Gallery, the Queensland Centre for Photography and Sherman Galleries. Her work can be found in a number of significant public and private collections including the Balnaves collection, the Art Gallery of South Australia, the BresicWhitney art collection and the Macquarie Group collection.
In 2014, Derz’s video work Depart without return was acquired by the Art Gallery of South Australia and featured in the 2014 Adelaide Biennial of Australian Art: Dark Heart curated by Nick Mitzevich.
In 2015 Derz was selected to exhibit work as part of The Fate of Image, The Forth International New Media forum, curated by Wang Chunchen, Chongqing, Sichuan Fine Arts Institute, China (2015) and also showed as part of Video Platform at Art Stage Singapore (2015).
More recently, in 2016, Derz was invited to exhibit as part of the Auckland Festival of Photography, curated by Simone Douglas and New Media Now as part of the Samrye International Media Arts Festival at VN Museum, Korea.
In the same year she was also a finalist in the Grace Cossington-Smith Art Prize, the Josephine Ulrick and Win Schubert Photography Award, the Blake Prize and the Alice Prize.
Derz is currently undertaking a PhD at Sydney College of Arts, University of Sydney and holds a Masters of Fine Arts by research (Media Arts) at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. Since 2008, she has also lectured in Photomedia at the College of Fine Arts, University of NSW and currently teaches Photography and Art history at Sydney institute of TAFE.