Randomised sound files, scanning light, steel doors, 2004
Sonia Leber and David Chesworth's installation The Gordon Assumption was created for the subterranean toilets in Gordon Reserve in Melbourne.
An incessant outpouring of female voices lures passersby down the stairwells to the cave-like subterranean toilets. The voices gather and thicken without respite, in upwards glissandi: an asynchronous chorus of female voices in infinitely rising pitch.
Behind the locked lower gates, the luminous green chamber beckons as a vertical slit of white light slowly rotates, scanning and wrapping the surfaces of the empty cubicles. The installation recalls the mythologies and mysteries of voices heard in caves, where the voices of spirits, sibyls, and oracles are believed to announce predictions and warnings from the mouth of a cave.
Commissioned for the visual arts program of the Melbourne International Arts Festival (2004)
Voices: Royal Melbourne Philharmonic Choir
Ben Cobham, scanning light fabrication
Bill Buckley, fabrication assistant
Michael Hewes, sound system
The artists gratefully acknowledge the support of Arts Victoria and the Melbourne Festival
'A chorus . . . streams up out of the ground like a legion of mad souls fleeing their opened graves. Is the city disgorging its dead from the sewers? Chesworth and Leber, like necromancers, wind up supernatural effects from the mundane fabric of the city.'
- Edward Colless, The Australian, 25 October 2004
'The jouissance of experiencing the high voices is offset by the discomfort . . . and the spectators' own unsureness of what to do about these screams. This is arguably counter-balanced by the conflicting, seductive, mythologized lure of sirens to depths unknown and potentially dangerous.'
- Linda Kouvaras, ‘Toilets, Tears and Transcendence’, in Transforming Cultures Vol 4, No 1, 2009
‘Altogether striking and astounding . . . anything but quiet and understated . . . Deftly woven into the fabric of everyday Melbourne, disrupting the easy flow of city routine . . . startling and fascinating commuters and passersby.’
- Jeff Kahn, RealTime No.64, Sydney, 2004