Le Phem Era

Le Phem Era is based on the unceded Lands of the Bunurong and Wurundjeri peoples of the Kulin Nation.

Le Phem Era is an interdisciplinary 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.

Le Phem Era is currently located at Studio 5, Level 1 River Studios 41–59 Sims Street, West Melbourne.

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.

Developed with teaching by Paul Fuog and Uriah Gray. Photography by Tobias Titz.

A bookshelf made up of pieces that connect books together to create structure. A close up of a connecting bookshelf piece and the books it is attached to. A see-saw style bookshelf where the combined weight of the books on either side balance each other. Two images of a bookshelf that holds books by pressure from both sides so that they are suspended. An experiemental bookshelf where the books are stacked on top of each other with their spines open. An inverse of the previous bookshelf where books are stacked on top of each other laid open All five hyper-personalised bookshelves placed in a group. A close up of tabs marking each book accompanying the series of bookshelves. Four catalogues with brown covers that read 'catalogue' on the front. One of the catalogues lays open. A spread from the accompanying catalogue depicting the measurements of the books used for one bookshelf. A spread from the accompanying catalogue depicting thumbnails of the books used for one bookshelf. A detail shot of a spread from the accompanying catalogue depicting the research behind two of the bookshelf forms.

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.

Three receipts against a black background depicting clothing life cycle research. Four receipts against a black background. One is particularly yellow and aged. Front and back view of a woman trying out an experimental vest / bag.
Thanks to Phuong Lam for testing this piece.
A detail shot of an experimental vest / bag hanging on display. Nine video stills of three people testing an experimental totebag.
Thanks to Georgia Townley, Jacquie Poon and Matthew Glico for testing this piece.
Long receipts containing research are weighed down by a brick on top of a grey metal plinth.
Creative Development Program showing installation detail. Photo courtesy of Testing Grounds.
People seated at the outdoor space at Testing Grounds in Southbank.
Creative Development Program showing, Testing Nights. Photo courtesy of Testing Grounds.

A day-long residency at Tree Paper Gallery, based at The Pavilion from 23 November, 2022 to 5 January, 2023.

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. The method of documentation highlights the problems with archives including chance, narrow selection and re-contextualisation. The collection features an interesting array of typographic forms, further exaggerated by the casual form of documentation, that present contradictions between the percieved authority of the written (and printed) word and the odd types of logic, localised problem solving and ornamentation present in commercial signage.

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.

Many distorted, black and white phone photos of ephemeral signage are placed in a grid formation. A riso test print where the ink is patchy in blue and black featuring text of different sizes, patterns and symbols. The same riso test print where there are no patchy spots where ink is missing. A riso test print of the same design on brown paper. A riso test print of the same design on maroon paper. A close up of a riso print of waves with jagged outlines and a shadow, with text in them that reads 'taua is you and I, maua is me and someone...' and 'for sure, seki'. A close up of a riso print of an experimental font made up of dots that depict gradients in arch shapes. Two attempts of recycled cardboard paper. The left has more jagged edges and two holes in the middle. Two attempts of plant debris paper. The right is mostly intact but the left is smaller, an unusual shape and in bits. Against a black background are white letters in an ornate, pixel font that have been placed with varying success.

A six month long residency at the Centre for Projection Art from 22 November, 2022 to 30 May, 2023.

The program will be used to develop a forthcoming exhibition that is an unconventional hybrid of documentary, narrative and publication. Additionally, the opportunity will be taken to expand film and digital projects 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.

Link to residency profile
Link to residency journal

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.

Link to information about the site

A forest view with slender trees, clumps of ferns and dead blackberry branches lining the forest floor. A group of people stand beside a large pond in the middle of a quarry, with one person holding a net with a very long handle. Under an exposed, metal truss roof, and between two shipping containers, a bunch of people sit in luxurious camping chairs on a gravel floor. A presentation is projected onto partially transparent sheets with text that reads 'Beech Forest Quarry — Geology'. Under the cover of tarps on an ourdoor wooden deck, a bunch of people sit around long wooden tables, looking at the speaker standing on the far end.

Distributed Goods is an ongoing project where personal relationships with friends and family are marked by a transaction of customised goods. Although the gifts are only given, not received, each object is a representation of an ongoing exchange that acts as a material demonstration of sentiment and collective memory. Each piece contains a reference that can only be understood only by the reciever.

A small white blanket with black distorted, pixelated text reading 'max' is taped to a white wall. Two images side by side of a white sequin pillow with experimental text in black that reads 'access'. On a wooden table edge sits a snowglobe with a graphic in black and white that depicts the text 'hostility down' in two different, experimental fonts.

(More coming soon)

Quarry Pedagogies Camp: B-roll is an impromptu, site-specific projection installation created at the end of Camp Two of the inaugral Quarry Pedagogies program 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.

Phone videos and photos from the time at camp were collected from participants, mixed spontaneously and placed un-edited in response to the architecture of the communal bathhouse. The work was installed and played while people were showering in, and brushing their teeth besides, the cubicles that acted as projection surfaces.

Quarry Pedagogies Camp: B-roll is a video projection artwork co-produced by Leitu Bonnici and Emily Simek 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.

Four panels of phone footage are projected outside, side by side onto the side of a building at night. A close up of the projection featuring videos depicting various camp activities. Someone stands in front of the projecting, blocking part of one of the four moving images. Another close up of the projection videos. A person can be seen crouching in circular dirt section lined with bricks. On the inside of the shower cubicles the projected images are diffused by the opaque surface of the walls.


‘Afa‘afakasi is an ongoing publication project initiated as motivation to learn gagana Sāmoa (Sāmoan language), which also enivitably encompasses connection to culture and people. The series of experimental publications are presented through a variety of creative outputs that promote visibility and reclamation.

A play on the term ‘afakasi (half Sāmoan, derived from the colonial term ‘half-caste’), ‘Afa‘afakasi essentially 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 lead by someone whose grandpa was born and raised in Sāmoa, but is also of European ancestry and mostly removed from Samoan culture. Knowledge of Sāmoa has been gained through interactions with ‘āiga (family) and other Sāmoans, as a tourist in Sāmoa and through research.

Rather than observing an organised system of language learning, publications are formed through a critical, collaborative and playful approach. The project explores how volumes can be interpreted in a variety of forms that are more public, accessible and immersive, where equal value is given to the process of learning as to the presentation of outcomes.

An old photo of a child reaching up towards a bunch of coconuts in Samoa. An old photo of a toddler sitting in the lap of her grandfather.

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).

Link to online publication
Link to screen reader-friendly version

Typographic arrangements illustrate Samoan pronunciation. Speech bubbles with Samoan greetings. A screenshot of four people on zoom.

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.

Developed in collaboration with Denise Roberts, Moira Roberts and Tacy Fatu. Installation assistance by Oliver Moir. Photography by Emma Byrnes.

A brush sweeping away glue from a poster installed on the ground promoting Samoan Language Week. A poster being installed on the ground by two people. A poster being installed on the ground depicting Samoan pronunciation concrete poetry. A poster being installed on the ground depicting basic Samoan phrases. A poster installed on the ground promoting Samoan Language Week depicting colours in Samoan. A woman carries a large poster filled with colourful emojis representing Samoa. One person holds a poster in place on the ground while the other person sweeps glue over it. An installed poster depicting the Samoan alphabet. Two people placing installing a poster on the ground while smiling. An installed poster depicting ways to say hello and goodbye in Samoan. Two people placing installing a poster on the ground amongst other installed posters. A wet poster being partially scrunched by a hand.

Lomiga Tasi: Folasaga Lona Lua ... Ata Tifaga ... Solaga, 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.

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’.

Developed in collaboration with Denise Roberts, Moira Roberts and Tacy Fatu. 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.

Link to event website

A still of four people talking over a video call overlaid with brightly coloured text denoting the title, the participants and their location, the date, the time, and audio captions. An overview of an installation in a large, empty, dark room. One wall is mostly covered in blue with Zoom footage, a phone video, writing and sketches over the top and the panels of the door are sectioned by colours and typography. The fireplace on the perpendicular wall is multicoloured and partially framing video captions on the wall. A close up of the coloured panels of the door with text that reads 'tau mālūlū', '8:01pm', '15 May', and '2022'. On the perpendicular wall is a video caption that spirals inward and is yellow with a blue glow, intersecting with the fractured word 'tālofa' in red.

Lomiga Tasi: Folasaga Lona Lua ... Ata Tifaga is an audiovisual 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 Denise Roberts, Moira Roberts and Tacy Fatu. In development with support from the Centre for Projection Art through their Artist-in-Residence program.

Forthcoming at RM Gallery in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), 13 September to 7 October, 2023.

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 will include exhibitions 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).

Experimental type made up of different sized, blue gradient arches that read: Lomiga Lua: i Luga ‘o le Moana.

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.

Link to event website

Over a dark blue background covered in rows of wave emojis, white text reads: ocean. sami/moana. we were known to be great navigators of the ocean. the ocean is our... highway. supermarket. playground. weakness. life. the ocean... gives us courage. connects and separates us from other islands. is where it all started. On a dark blue background are white, roughly drawn shapes of different sizes resembling different interpretations of waves. On the wave in the top-left, blue text reads: navigating through the Oceans of present past and future... A bright blue background is broken up in one section by a mouse arrow, revealings small parts of a darker blue beneath. Over the top white text, set in a cascading zigzag depicts a long personal message. Against a blue background of repeating rows of giant, geometric waves white text reads: tātou. we, us all. On the side of a shipping container painted an olive green, large white banners depict the details of Public Art Park.
Public Art Park opening event. Photo courtesy of Testing Grounds.

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.

Showing at the West Space Window, 27 May to 2 July, 2023.

Link to exhibition page

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) at Collingwood Yards that will take place on Tuesday 30 May, 2023.

Through food and art, we hope to cultivate a welcoming and community-led environment for people with Sāmoan ancestry to come together and celebrate language. The event will feature an array of artworks and activities by Sāmoan practitioners based in Naarm and beyond, including an umu, ‘ie lavalava mark making and moving image works. 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 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.

Link to event roomsheet

Two rows of four blue, two-tone stills from a video of the deconstruction of an umu. A Sāmoan man in a beanie, jumper, jeans and boots takes off layers of burlap sacks which release a lot of steam, followed by a layer of baking paper, and then rocks are removed from the top of foil wrapped food.
Peter Lemalu, 'Malo Lelei', 2023. Graphic design by Leitu Bonnici.

The fourth iteration of Lomiga Lua: i Luga ‘o le Moana will be an installation that takes the form of an enlarged and expanded publication. Included will be an array of prints and moving image works. Acting as both a resource and learning process, the work aims to provide language visibility without formality. Instead, the focus will be on humour, play and organic interaction.

Developed in collaboration with Alitasi Fatu, Denise Roberts, Moira Roberts and Numiamalepule Adrian Tuitama.. Forthcoming at Incinerator Gallery from 21 July to 24 September, 2023.