Sriwhana Spong

Aotearoa New Zealand / Indonesia, b.1979

At a place not stated

  • 2015
  • lithograph
  • Gift of the Australian War Memorial, 2016
  • 568 x 765mm
  • 2016/084

Recognising her inability to describe the horror of war, Sriwhana Spong has used profiles of war trenches to create a kind of coded alphabet as a visual replacement for the insufficiency of words. These trench forms, taken from World War I maps, are punctuated with leaves that Spong collected when she travelled the Peace Route, a path between WWI cemeteries, monuments and museums in Belgium. Together, the lines of leaves and trenches bring to mind cycles of life – the growth of the leaves fertilised by those buried in the same ground.

'At a place not stated' reads like a hidden message, a reminder of those who died on unknown territory, and of the fractured and opaque wartime communication regarding the safety and whereabouts of loved ones received by family members back home.

(Jane Wallace, 2023)