Le Phem Era was founded across the unceded Lands of the Bunurong Boonwurrung and Wurundjeri Woiwurrung Peoples of the Kulin Nation, and is currently based in Arnhem, Netherlands.
Le Phem Era is an interdisciplinary and anti-disciplinary practice run by Leitu Bonnici for self-initiated projects that critically examine ephemera in all its forms through experimental methods of archiving and publishing.
Le Phem Era researches through creative analysis, datafication, disruption, re-assemblage and speculation using democratic modes of production.
An exploration of hyper-personalisation through a series of bookshelves. Taking the customisation of an object to the point where it only works for one person or one specific purpose often leads to absurd but much more meaningful products.
The bookshelves were customised for particular books to differing degrees, relying on the physical attributes of the books in different ways. Some were tailored so specifically that they do not work without the books they were created to hold. The accompanying catalogue focused on the measurements of the books used and explained the research behind each bookshelf form.
A month long creative development residency at Testing Grounds used to research and experiment with the relationship between disposable and enduring materials.
Clothing items were created by combining different re-purposed materials (cotton, linen, plastic) with ephemeral receipts (thermal printed paper). They were attached to one another using various methods including secure stitching, loose decorative stitching, melting and masking tape. The participants who tested the items were left to decide what was temporary or removable, and what was permanent or adaptable.
Developed with mentorship from Debris Facility.
A two day residency at Testing Grounds that took place during in May, 2022 intending to bring together creatives from different backgrounds of screen media to write, produce and film a collaborative audio visual work over 48 hours. The aim of the residency was to develop relationships, enable skill sharing, workshop ideas and create something unique.
A day-long residency at Tree Paper Gallery, based at The Pavilion during December, 2022.
The residency was used to research archival processes alongside explorative printing and collage. The content used was a growing archive of phone photos that have been taken over years, each photo consisting of ephemeral signage extracted from public urban environments.
In addition to the residency, workshops were attended for riso printing, paper making and screen printing using the riso machine. Paper was made from recycled cardboard as well as an experimentation in using fallen plant matter, made in collaboration with Sam Emery.
A residency at the Centre for Projection Art took place from 22 November, 2022 to 30 May, 2023.
The program was used to become projection literate. The opportunity was taken to experiment with ways to expand digital works beyond the boundaries of screens and into activations in three-dimensional space, as well as exploring ways to integrate projected imagery into traditionally non-digital works.
Developed with mentorship from Abeera Kamran.
The Quarry is an ongoing rehabilitation project and a site of former sandstone extraction, which was used for road base by logging companies, run by These Are The Projects We Do Together on the Land of the Gadubanud people in the Otway Ranges.
Camp Two of the inaugral Quarry Pedagogies ran 12–17 February, 2023. The invitation-only camp included transport, food and accommodation, and brought together participants from architecture, landscape architecture, interior design, visual art and carpentry. Centred around rehabilitation as a creative process, the program included workshops, talks, activities and collective discussions lead by presenters in the fields of geology, ecology, architecture, craft, visual art and more. Participants were also able to initiate projects that responded to the site and rehabilitation process.
The Tautai FALE-SHIP Residency Program supports ten Tagata Moana creative practitioners living in Aotearoa and abroad to develop new digital work from home. Artists-in-Residence share their practice over a two-week period, responding to global transformation through a localised lens.
In 2023, Tautai invited artists to create works inspired by the words of Epeli Hau’ofa in reaching out across ‘Our Sea of Islands’ and respond to navigation, wayfinding and meeting across oceans both physical and digital.
On residency from 25 September to 8 October, 2023.
Quarry Pedagogies Camp: B-roll is a site-specific impromptu projection installation created in response to time spent at The Quarry, on the Land of the Gadubanud people in the Otway Ranges, after a week of undertaking workshops, discussions and activities that centred site rehabilitation, ecologies, and collective processes.
The work explores anti-archival methods as well as a collectivised, place-based approach to filmmaking, by foraging videos from camp participants-cum-cinematographers and using site-specific production practices. Phone videos from the time at camp were gathered from participants and placed un-edited in response to the architecture of the communal bathhouse. The work was installed while campers were showering in, and brushing their teeth besides, the cubicles which acted as projection surfaces.
Quarry Pedagogies Camp: B-roll is a video projection artwork co-produced by Emily Simek and Leitu Bonnici in collaboration with the participants of Quarry Pedagogies Camp Two: Alexandre Faustino, Belinda Smole, Brahn Smillie, Emily Wong, Fiona Runjia Chen, Gabby Alfano, Georgia Frendo, Jen Lynch, Joy Zhou, Lana Nguyen, Laura Zammit, Lena Skipper, Nicola Papaioannou, Nicolas Guerra, Olivia Wright, Peter Grant, Quinru Hu, Sophie Adsett, Tenielle Clerke, Tess Nettlefold, and Thomas Heath.
The Quarry site and the Quarry Pedagogies program are run by These Are The Projects We Do Together. Documentation, technical support and projection equipment supplied by Ivan Mašić, co-director of Little Projector Company.
‘Afa‘afakasi is an ongoing publication project initiated as motivation to learn gagana Sāmoa (Sāmoan language), which inevitably also encompasses connection to culture, people, lands and waters. The series of experimental publications are presented through a variety of creative outputs that promote visibility and reclamation.
There are currently two volumes. Lomiga Tasi: Folasaga Lona Lua translates to 'Issue One: Second Introduction'. Lomiga Lua: i Luga ‘o le Moana translates to ‘Issue Two: Over the Ocean/Blue’.
A play on the term ‘afakasi (half Sāmoan, derived from the colonial term ‘half-caste’), ‘Afa‘afakasi means half of a half Sāmoan. This new term was created to raise questions around racial classifications and connection to, or disconnection from, heritage. This series of publications is led by someone whose grandpa was born and raised in Sāmoa, but is also of European ancestry and mostly removed from Sāmoan culture. Knowledge of Sāmoa has been gained through interactions with ‘āiga (family), learning from other Sāmoans, visiting Sāmoa and through research.
This work forms part of ongoing critical (and playful) research on the structure and function of publications, their ‘succinct communication’, implied ‘objectivity’ and ‘perfected conventions’. Rather than observing an organised system of language learning, the project explores how volumes can be interpreted in a variety of forms that are more collaborative and immersive, where equal value is placed on the process of learning as to the presentation of outcomes.
Lomiga Tasi: Folasaga Lona Lua, translating to 'Issue One: Second Introduction', is a basic introduction to language and culture. The webpage also playfully employs collaboration and digital filters to investigate feelings of cultural disconnection, as well as the lack of representation on the web (and elsewhere).
Made alongside a series of discussions and featuring collaborations with Denise Roberts, Moira Roberts and Tacy Fatu, who were born in Samoa but live on Kombumerri Country (the Gold Coast) and in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland).
Rainy day install at Twosixty of posters promoting Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa (Sāmoan Language Week) and the first issue of ‘Afa‘afakasi, a free online publication called Lomiga Tasi: Folasaga Lona Lua.
Lomiga Tasi: Folasaga Lona Lua ... Ata Tifaga ... Sologa, translating to ‘Issue One: Second Introduction ... Film ... In Progress’, is an in development showing and an experimentation with projection that extends upon the making of the webpage for Lomiga Tasi: Folasaga Lona Lua. It is an unconventional hybrid of documentary and publication featuring video calls across Naarm (Melbourne), Kombumerri Country (the Gold Coast) and Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) overlapped with other collaboratively made digital works.
Developed in collaboration with Alitasi Fatu, Denise Roberts and Moira Roberts. Installation developed with support from the Centre for Projection Art through their Artist-in-Residence program and exhibited as part of the group show Skylight at the Mission to Seafarers 20–30 January, 2023. Photography by Anatol Pitt.
Lomiga Tasi: Folasaga Lona Lua ... Ata Tifaga is an audiovisual, multi-channel projection work about reconnecting to language, culture and family. This exhibition both documents the making of Lomiga Tasi: Folasaga Lona Lua and is a further extension of the project.
Developed in collaboration with Alitasi Fatu, Denise Roberts and Moira Roberts.
Shown at RM Gallery in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), 13 September to 7 October, 2023. Photography by Ardit Hoxha.
Lomiga Lua: i Luga ‘o le Moana, translating to ‘Issue Two: Over the Ocean/Blue’, uses digital interpretations of the ocean as a backdrop to ponder space, distance, memory and the future in relation to gagana Sāmoa and fa‘asāmoa. This issue of ‘Afa‘afakasi  is a representation of the link that exists between family members across waters and geographies despite physical distance from each other, and from Sāmoa.
The word ‘sami’ is used to describe the sea or ocean in gagana Sāmoa, but the word ‘moana’ can also be used and is shared as the word for ocean across multiple Nations of Moana Oceania. It can also means the colour blue in gagana Sāmoa, as in ‘lanumoana’. In the context of the internet, blue is the default colour used to denote connection to other destinations in the form of hyperlinks. Lomiga Lua uses the colour blue and digital reproductions of the ocean as the context for a chorus of words, thoughts and conversations.
This work combines digitally constructed interpretations of the ocean with text formed through familial connection, memory and shared interactions by ‘āiga (family) in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), on Kombumerri Country (the Gold Coast) and in Kirikiriroa (Hamilton). The artificial backgrounds were created in Naarm using a mixture of illustration, code, three dimensional digital modelling and reconstructed footage taken in Sāmoa.
Developed in collaboration with Alitasi Fatu, Denise Roberts, Moira Roberts and Numiamalepule Adrian Tuitama.
Iterations of this publication volume have shown at Testing Grounds Public Art Park for Melbourne Fringe Festival (6–23 October, 2022), at the West Space Window (27 May to 18 June, 2023) and at Incinerator Gallery (from 21 July to 24 September, 2023), as well as an event at Collingwood Yards (30 May, 2023).
The first iteration of Lomiga Lua: i Luga ‘o le Moana is a moving image work installed at Testing Grounds Public Art Park for Melbourne Fringe Festival, running 6–23 October, 2022. Public Art Park consists of a site-wide program supporting the development of works specifically developed for and in relation to the public realm.
Developed in collaboration with Alitasi Fatu, Denise Roberts, Moira Roberts and Numiamalepule Adrian Tuitama.
The second iteration of Lomiga Lua: i Luga ‘o le Moana is a moving image installation developed in collaboration with Alitasi Fatu, Denise Roberts, Moira Roberts and Numiamalepule Adrian Tuitama.
We think we know who we are, but we’re not sure. We also don’t know what we’re doing, but we’re still here.
Lomiga Lua: i Luga ‘o le Moana ... Fa'amanatuina ‘o le Gagana, translating to ‘Issue Two: Over the Ocean/Blue … Language Celebration’, is a celebration of Vaiaso o le Gagana Sāmoa (Sāmoan Language Week) that took place on Tuesday 30 May, 2023 at Yálla-birr-ang, Wurundjeri Woiwurrung Country.
Through food and art, we hoped to cultivate a welcoming and community-led environment for people with Sāmoan ancestry to come together and celebrate language. By providing a space for the exploration of collective and individual Sāmoan identities, we aim to promote reclamation of pre-colonial ways of knowing while allowing for diasporic interpretations of culture.
The event featured an array of artworks and activities by Sāmoan practitioners based in Naarm and beyond. Included were moving image works by FAFSWAG, Louisa Afoa, Luce Nguyễn-Hunt and Natasha Matila-Smith, as well as an umu, ‘Malo Lelei’, run by Peter Lemalu, and collective ‘ie lavalava mark making.
The event is presented by Le Phem Era, in collaboration with artist Peter Lemalu and with support from West Space, Centre for Projection Art, The Social Studio, Hope Street Radio, Composite Moving Image and Collingwood Yards. A very special thank you to Peter Lemalu for being so instrumental to the project, to Sia Tamausu for coming on board and to the artists, Louisa Afoa, Luce Nguyễn-Hunt, Natasha Matila-Smith as well as Tanu Gago and the rest of FAFSWAG, for allowing their work to be showcased. A huge thank you to Anthea Bonnici, Cassandra Lemalu, Emily Simek, Fiona Chen, Joy Zhou, Lena Skipper and Paul Lemalu for helping to run the event and to everyone else who showed up to support. Photography by Gracie Sietu. Risograph printing by Tree Paper Gallery.
The fourth iteration of Lomiga Lua: i Luga ‘o le Moana is an installation that takes the form of an enlarged and expanded publication. Included is an array of prints, moving image works and an audio work. Acting as both a resource and learning process, the work aims to provide language visibility without formality. Instead, the focus is on humour, play and organic interaction.
Developed in collaboration with Alitasi Fatu, Denise Roberts, Moira Roberts and Numiamalepule Adrian Tuitama. Showing at Incinerator Gallery from 21 July to 24 September, 2023.
Risograph printing by Tree Paper Gallery. Photography by Gianna Rizzo courtesy of Incinerator Gallery.
Tusi Solo Malie is an online gagana Sāmoa collaborative poetry workshop that was held on Tuesday 29 August 6:45–8pm.
‘Lomiga’ can mean ‘edition’ or ‘massage’, ‘solo’ can mean ‘poetry’ or ‘towel’, and there are many other Sāmoan words with multiple meanings depending on the context or the way in which they are expressed. Together participants will collaborate on humorous poetry using Sāmoan homonyms—words that have more than one meaning. All levels of gagana are welcomed in this exchange of language learning. This workshop is a safe space for Sāmoan self-expression, inclusive of fa’afafine, fa’atane and all other MVPFAFF+ (LGBTQIA+) identifying community.
The workshop was run in collaboration with Anae Micah Tuitama-Roberts, Denise Roberts, Katie Rasch, Moira Roberts, Peter Lemalu, Talia Smith, as well as Numiamalepule Adrian Tuitama who couldn’t join the call but who also made poetry in parallel.
Tusi Solo Malie was supported by Incinerator Gallery as part of the exhibition Lomiga Lua: i Luga ‘o le Moana.
Anchored in a self-aware challenge to simplified narratives of civilisational progression that pervade western understandings of the written word, Letters at Play draws from our formative introductions to letters and punctuation in the classroom and on the playground to expand our understanding of what it is that letters are. What becomes possible when we see letterforms as not just individual pieces of the words we use to comprehend the world but as objects and sources of meaning in their own right? The poetic captions in this piece take their cues from schoolyard rhymes, such as those found in clapping games and jump rope, as well as mnemonic devices like the alphabet song and ‘I before E except after C’ that are used to bring us into the rules of English.
Created in collaboration with Jamali Bowden. Shown via projection on the corner of Gertrude Street and Charcoal Lane, as well as at Bunjil Place, as part of Gertrude Street Projection Festival from 26 July to 6 August, 2023.