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Sonia Leber and David Chesworth: Where Lakes Once Had Water

Sonia Leber and David Chesworth: Where Lakes Once Had Water is a new exhibition catalogue published by Bundanon in association with the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Australian Biodiversity and Heritage (CABAH).  In 2018-19, Melbourne-based artist duo Sonia Leber and David Chesworth were invited to travel with a team of Earth scientists to locations in Australia’s remote interior and the Top End. The journey took them to expansive, ancient landscapes, places of long-term aridification such as Lake Woods, Nitmiluk/Katherine Gorge and coastal Girraween Lagoon [NT], and resulted in an audio-video artwork Where Lakes Once Had Water (2020) planned for public exhibition from February 2022 and beyond.

Supported by the Gordon Darling Foundation and designed by Public Office, Where Lakes Once Had Water is a richly illustrated soft-bound volume featuring a bold colour palette reflective of the environments encountered. It includes photographic images as time-stamp frames extracted from the audio-visual work and features four diverse texts. Sophie Knezic’s essay situates Leber and Chesworth’s work in a lineage of 20th century sound art and acoustic transduction; Fiona Gruber focuses on the artists’ working process and Tim Flannery provides insights into the geological science and climatic change underpinning the project. The final text is an open conversation between the artists and Wiradjuri scientist Michael-Shawn Fletcher, who worked on the project at Girraween Lagoon and is interested in studying the long-term interactions between humans, climate, disturbance, vegetation and landscapes in the southern hemisphere.

Where Lakes Once Had Water investigates a number of interconnecting thematic strands, including climate history and change, diverse knowledge systems, Indigenous custodianship and Earth Science, voices of nature and non-human timeframes, assembled ecologies, care and participation, multi-sensory ways of knowing and notions of deep time. 

136 pages, 24.5 x 16.5 cm
Published by Bundanon Trust


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Bundanon acknowledges the people of the Dharawal and Dhurga language groups as the traditional owners of the land within our boundaries, and recognises their continuous connection to culture, community and Country.

In Dharawal the word Bundanon means deep valley.

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