16 channel audio, 6 channel video, wood, Bondor, polystyrene, acrylic, light, 12m x 27m x 4.8m, 2007/2011
As the recipients of the third annual Helen Macpherson Smith Commission, Leber and Chesworth created a large scale installation for the cavernous main exhibition space at Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, using sound, video, architecture and public participation.
Human voices resonate through a series of confined corridors leading to a central, cathedral-like space. The project references both Jeremy Bentham's Panopticon model prison design and the Cathedral as two architectural apparatuses with a surprising aspect in common: both rely on an unseen, all-seeing observer. And both use voices in interesting ways.
Solo exhibition, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art (2007); solo exhibition at Mildura Arts Centre (2008); Stealing The Senses, Govett-Brewster Gallery, New Plymouth, New Zealand (2011).
Juliana Engberg, commissioning curator
Charlotte Day, project curator
Hannah Matthews, touring curator
Nikos Papastergiadis, catalogue essay
Show Works, construction
Peter Webb, video compositing and digital enhancements
Rowan Cochran, electrical and audio installation
Michael Hewes, sound support
Christopher van der Craats, additional London photography
Voices: Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir
Performers in video elements: Zofia Witkowski-Blake, Teresa Blake, Adam Broinowski, Christy Louise Flaws, Luke O'Connor, Sarah O'Donoghue, Lee Serle, Ingrid Weisfelt, Dan Witton
'What is most pertinent for this installation...is the belief that architectural forms and, in particular, the introduction of a new visual and spatial apparatus can change the nature of inhabitants...There is now the dread that everyone...may be transformed into their worst enemy.'
- Nikos Papastergiadis, Almost Always Everywhere Apparent, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art 2007
‘This 'Gesamtkunstwerk'- where the arts meet and fuse - is restaged with an uncanny resemblance to the panopticon...You peer through each terminal eye and witness bizarre spectacles - a person levitating on the ceiling, a view of a choir from the dome, a group of people gathered on a ceiling, like sticky seaweed splattered into the corner of a room.’
- Robert Nelson, The Age, 22 August 2007
‘It doesn't take long inside the installation to realise that you have been coerced into becoming part of the work itself. Unavoidably, irresistibly, the watcher becomes the watched...You cannot simply remain a voyeur, but are forced to become a participant...you imagine your own behaviour being observed, silhouetted in the confines of the corridor.'
- Martin Ball, The Age, 18 August 2007
'A surprisingly taut density...Leber and Chesworth seem to replicate the dynamics of Jeremy Bentham’s panoptic prison architectural system, where a central concealed overseer observes a perimeter structure of permanently silhouetted figures. Accentuated by the splintered choral singing, the installation equally hints at ecclesiastic architecture, of cloisters and interior domes. By combining panoptic and cathedral inspired space, the installation highlights their shared architectonic logic of an omnipresent overseer.'
- Amy Marjoram, Real Time, October 2007
'A substantial and ambitious architectural solo installation...presented with challenging theoretical material...'
- Robert Nelson, 'The Year in Review: Visual Art', The Age, Melbourne, 26 December 2007
Pdf of catalogue - low res 3Mb