un Projects is based on the unceded sovereign land and waters of the Wurundjeri and Boon Wurrung people of the Kulin Nation; we pay our respects to their Elders, past, present and emerging.
un Projects

An Image Remembered


To recall an image before it has been brought into visibility. In film photography, light sensitive crystals are exposed as the shutter opens, and a latent image is created. This is part of the enduring love for the medium. That an image is delayed. That you seal the image into a temporary state of illegibility.

I carried these latent images with me for a long time. Stored
in plastic zip lock bags, sitting forgotten in friends’ fridges. Surviving multiple airport security scans, explaining to customs staff: these are light sensitive.

The city where these images are taken is now the new epicentre of our pandemic times. The daily national cases, not counting those untested, reach 50,000. On the worst day, the deaths reach 1500. These images are now meaningless. There is no narrative to draw from this present moment. This is not a moment of self-improvement, of baking bread or going for a walk. Death is in the image. Not the melancholic, existential haunting of the image that Barthes taught us, but raging out at as a daily toll of numbers and statistics on parentless children, oxygen tanks and hospital beds.

Recently I developed these rolls of film, shot eight years ago, and had the negatives scanned. They arrived in my inbox as
a link to a Dropbox folder. What is sustained is the body’s ability to record: as in, I remember the feeling of taking these photographs, the physicality of framing certain shots. The image becomes an imprint of my head bent down towards
the viewfinder, of my finger clicking the shutter. Of my wrist growing tired, of the lens strap tangled around my neck. I remember standing in the midday sun, waiting until someone had entered or exited the frame. Of guessing the exposure. Of my cuticle breaking as I wind the lip of the film into the spool.

An Image Remembered, 2013–21, scanned film photographs and text.

Leyla Stevens is an Australian-Balinese artist using moving image and photography. Working within modes of representation that shift between documentary and speculative fictions, her interest lies in the recuperation of counter histories within dominant narratives. Leyla was recently awarded the 66th Blake Art Prize for her moving image work Kidung (2019), which engages with Bali’s histories of political violence from 1965–66. Her work has been exhibited in Australia through artist run, institutional and regional galleries, most recently with a new commission for The National 2021: New Australian Art at the Art Gallery of NSW. She holds a Doctor of Creative Arts through the University of Technology Sydney.