8-channel HD video installation, sync or non-sync playback, variable, stereo audio, 14 minutes, 2018
Geography Becomes Territory Becomes explores how the architecture of early fortresses radically transformed the natural world, through the territorialization of land. In the multichannel installation, the artists mobilize the immovable in a sensual choreography of forms that quiver, twist and flip, unleashing invisible forces and sensations.
The project was filmed around the 18th century island fortress of Suomenlinna in Finland. Built up of violently exploded rock, and emerging from the chaotic earth, this architecture of heavy fortifications demarcates the original ownership of territory: the stronghold.
For the artists, fortress architecture generates a certain intensity of forms: stone walls that appear as screens, windows appearing as frames, rigid enclosures emerging from craggy geographies. Leber and Chesworth are aware that both the act of framing via filming, and the act of framing via architecture, are acts of territorialization.
Architecture Makes Us, UNSW Galleries, Sydney (2019); Architecture Makes Us, Griffith University Art Museum, Brisbane (2019); Architecture Makes Us, Centre for Contemporary Photography, Melbourne (2018)
Commissioned by Centre for Contemporary Photography in Melbourne. The project has been supported by an Australia Council residency at Helsinki International Artist Program; and a NAVA Visual Arts Fellowship supported by Copyright Agency's Cultural Fund.
'The cinematography is predatory, the camera stalking the abandoned structure and shooting through its apertures as if filmed by a sniper. With a soundtrack that thrums with portent, the matrix of screens produces a bracing experience of sonic and visual disorientation.'
- Sophie Knezic, Frieze, July 2018
'This stronghold is hewn from the very stone on which it sits: geography turned inside out, dragged on top of itself, built up into a wall. The land turned into a device for protecting the land...
It’s impossible to consider this work without considering the island on which we currently stand – the borders of our own territories built up and up as we hasten to protect what we have claimed as ours – as well as borders springing up around Europe, Britain, between the US and Mexico. In Geography Becomes Territory Becomes, a cliff face bears the right-angled scars of quarrying; close up, its surface is smoothed by weather and yellow-green lichen. The stone structures are now topped by grass. The island is reclaiming its own territory.'
- Anna Dunnill, Art Guide Australia, August 2018
All Sonia Leber & David Chesworth
UNSW Galleries photos by Zan Wimberley