Catalogue > At random

Sonia Leber, David Chesworth

Where Lakes Once Had Water

Vidéo | 4k | couleur | 28:14 | Australie | 2020

‘Where Lakes Once Had Water contemplates how the Earth is experienced and understood through different ontologies – ways of being, seeing, sensing, listening and thinking – that reverberate across art, Indigenous thought, science, ancient and modern cultures, and the non-human.’ Sonia Leber and David Chesworth travelled with a team of Earth and environmental scientists who are investigating changes in the climate, landscape and ecology over 130,000 years. Their journey took them to Australia’s Northern Territory, to spectacular yet challenging environments, from locations of long-term aridity to lush, green waterways. Where Lakes Once Had Water channels the experience, where Indigenous rangers, Elders and community members collaborate with scientists. Working across the ancient shorelines, everyone is receptive to the signs, signals and rhythms of the land. Meanwhile, non-human cohabitants continue their struggles for survival. Leber and Chesworth deploy video as a tool, scanning tree lines, erosions, termite mounds, and the effects of water, sun and fire. Their disquieting sound design encompasses natural and human-made sounds, and the hidden signals and energies that exist beyond human hearing. The project is a journey across audio-visual realms, scientific endeavour and Indigenous knowledge – a coalescence of efforts to understand the ancient land.

Australian artists Sonia Leber and David Chesworth are known for their distinctive video, sound and architecture-based installations that are audible as much as visible. Leber and Chesworth’s works are speculative and archaeological, often involving communities and elaborated from research in places undergoing social, technological or local geological transformation. Their works emerge from the real but exist significantly in the realm of the imaginary, hinting at unseen forces and non-human perspectives. Leber and Chesworth’s artworks have been shown in the central exhibitions of the 56th Venice Biennale: All The World’s Futures (2015) and the 19th Biennale of Sydney: You Imagine What You Desire (2014). Solo exhibitions include What Listening Knows, Messums Wiltshire, UK (2021) and the survey exhibition Architecture Makes Us: Cinematic Visions of Sonia Leber & David Chesworth, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne, Australia (2018) touring to Griffith University Art Museum, Brisbane (2019) and UNSW Galleries, Sydney (2019).