Cover image of the review

Architecture Makes Us: Cinematic Visions of Sonia Leber and David Chesworth

1 Sep 2018
27 Jul - 9 Sep 2018

When the scaffolding of Sean Godsell's Design Hub was removed earlier this year, I felt a distinct sense of disorientation. As a familiar building, my relationship to it felt suddenly and unfairly disrupted by the rectification of its original form. I'd become comfortable in the scaffolding, gesturing out onto the footpath: a rare occurrence for a Godsell building, often defined by a distinct 'interiorness.' The scaffolding, through literal and administrative expansion, was more than a mere necessity of construction. It cultivated its own discourse: how buildings merge (or otherwise) into Melbourne's existing cityscape; how citizens manipulate territorial boundaries; and above all, where architects' authorship ends and public authorship begins.

Sonia Leber & David Chesworth, Universal Power House: In the Near Future, 2017, Single channel HD video, 12:30min. Video still. Courtesy the artists.Commissioned by Campbelltown Arts Centre, Sydney.

Standing in another Sean Godsell building, Fitzroy's Centre for Contemporary Photography, we are the citizens of this gallery and artists Sonia Leber and David Chesworth echo these concerns. In Architecture Makes Us, the socialising function of architecture is explored through spatial tension and temporal distortion. Engaging with material, architectural, sonic and discursive framings, Architecture Makes Us brings together six video works in a mid-career survey. A product of the artists' often long, viscerally intense global residencies, the body of work is characterised by a porousness between natural environments and insidious human intervention; outwardness and introspection; collective consciousness and individual anxiety. The constructed relationships of exchange—between work and architecture; work and viewer; architecture and viewer; works and other works—manifest their own dependence. The result: a vast landscape of psychological states. Deliberate in its delivery, the audience must respond with inquisition, confusion, humour, cynicism and hope. Architecture emerges as a crucial cultural artefact leaving remnants of modernization, philosophical transformation and social change in its wake.

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