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A blow up world globe sits on a bed of ceramics in an oversized petri dish with water all wrapped in a drycleaning plastic bag with a cable tie at the top

Image: Exhale in the Anthropocene 2016, (Detail) by Lea Kannar-Lichtenberger

Culture at Work - Residency Exhibition
May 27 to June 10, 2018

Curators Statement

by Ivana Jirasek Kultura

M Art Admin/Grad Dip Gallery Mgmt (UNSW Art & Design)

Specialist in philanthropy and contemporary glass



The definitions of ‘deception’ span nuances ranging from fraud, trickery, cunning, artfulness, to lyingpretence and artifice. All have a shadowy nature – of something known being hidden from view. We can see deception has been a powerful device exploited by writers and playwrights: consider Shakespeare’s countless works that strategically reveal the vast expanse of human nature; and the counterpart work of lawyers and sleuths seeking to unravel its forensic obfuscations and establish truths. Sir Arthur Conon Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes said it well: ‘There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact’. And so, the searching begins.

Artists and scientists are society’s sleuths, investigating internal and external worlds to reveal ‘truths’ and add to our shared understanding and humanity’s database. They contribute to the archives of knowledge and perception that inform so many human decisions and actions, whether personal, political, economic, technical/technological, medical, creative and scientific.

Artist Lea Kannar-Lichtenberger has been creatively sleuthing and interpreting the intersection of the man-made and natural worlds for several years, focusing on the human footprint in our oceans. Having visited several remote islands with World Heritage status, she brings privileged views into her artistic domain, in a range of formats to exchange and inform the public. In her recent trek to Antarctic territory, she even transported her own videos of urban worlds and projected them onto the pristine, albeit melting ice mass at Deception Island – a unique creative confrontation.

In this CULTURE AT WORK residency, Lea integrated various visual documents and distilled her experience through an expanding repertoire. The artforms and materials at-hand include ceramics, glass, aluminium bricolage, installation, pencil, charcoal and crayon drawings, microscopic photography, digital video including a commissioned piece of music: they are applied selectively and deliberately. She has engaged forensic chemist Associate Professor Barbara Stuart to identify the composition of plastics collected on Deception Island. Her work extends the specialist experience she gained at the SVA Bio Art Residency in 2013-4 with exhibitions in New York City, followed by solo exhibitions in Sydney including a solo Colliding Worlds in 2015, and Gagging in Dystopia in 2017.

At the heart of Lea’s work is a creative inquiry into society’s continuing destructive dynamic with nature and the reach of its damage. She reminds us that nature does not lie. Writer Mo Johnson’s thoughts on the Anthropocene ‘Our hubris is our extinction’ in another project with Lea, provides a stark, provocative, and true statement for our times. While we’re acutely aware of the enduring ability of humanity to deliberately deceive, it’s reassuring to note that Lea’s mentor at Bio Art, Dr Suzanne Anker, remarked on the extraordinary resilience of matter. We owe our thanks to nature, artists and scientists for revealing the truth.

’after all, what is a lie? ‘Tis but the truth in masquerade’

Lord Byron


Accelerator Gallery - 6 Scott St Pyrmont


27 May to 10 June, 2018

Gallery Hours Tue to Sun from 11 - 5pm

Opening 2 - 5 pm Sat May 27 

Evening Discussion June 1 from 6 to 8 pm


Lea in discussion about her work with

Maria Alfonsine who will speak about her sound collaboration with Lea 

Exhibition Statement by Lea Kannar-Lichtenberger




Deception is an exhibition that is at its core examines the role of contemporary society in global warming and how remote places are being affected; it is not just our impact from a distance that is explored.  This exhibition with its interdisciplinary eco-critical vision traverses the traditional disciplinary boundaries between the sciences and humanities.  Focusing specifically on Deception Island, off Antarctica, my onsite investigations in January 2017 exposed a window into a fast changing world. Ocean debris and glacial melting are at the core of my investigation.


Why did I feel the need to go to Antarctica? My work to date has looked at small islands (such as the Galapagos, Lord Howe and Faroe Islands) and how contemporary society in various forms is impacting on them, not just through ocean debris but tourism. 


Heading to Antarctica was the logical next step.  It was an exciting undertaking, with the usual travel hiccups including a dash for the ship, but travelling in South America can be like this.  I went with Ninth Wave, a not-for-profit group, who had commissioned a Portuguese captain Teclo to take our small group of 8 researchers on his 12 metre sailing boat, the Geluk.


Our journey was in January and for those who travelled or tried to travel to Antarctica this year, they will know how severely beset January was with storms in the Southern Ocean.  So much so, that we only had 2.5 days on land, and only on Deception Island.


This gave me time to walk the shoreline and see what plastics had made it inside this harbour. In Telephone Bay where we anchored, plastics were visible from the ship; their presence was disappointing but not unexpected.  My reason for being there was to create a work that would bring the contemporary world into this perceived pristine environment. I projected videos of urban street scenes, the results of our contemporary world onto the melting ice/glacier.


This exhibition is about deception, not just referring to the name of the island, but to the way society uses deception to ‘not see’ what we know to be true. This includes our government’s deception in not taking strong and immediate action, and the deception of the oil industry about its practices.


With Australia’s history and ongoing presence in Antarctica, Deception is just one part of a discussion to create greater awareness of society’s seemingly simple actions that have a disastrous ‘butterfly effect’ on such a remote and utopian destination. This exhibition works to reveal how we’re effecting and affecting Deception Island - which by its isolation, its surrounding waters, it and its wildlife remain virtually invisible to our world.

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