We are excited to announce the finished work one of our successful grant applicants. Through our funding, Gili Lavy has produced a large-scale immersive video installation, examining the need to mark and occupy territories and reflecting upon the concept of ‘owning’ ground.

Common Lakes takes us on a journey through the central Mediterranean route, the most dangerous migration route in the world, drawing us through the north coast of Africa towards the soon-to-be-built 3-kilometre-long floating sea barrier horrifyingly created to block migrants from reaching the Greek islands. The sea wall is planned to be erected off Lesbos, the island that rose to prominence at the height of the Syrian civil war when close to a million refugees landed on its beaches, clinging to a small hope of safety on the other side.

The film is an interdisciplinary body of work made up of a dual-channel video installation and a separate choral sound piece which, upon deeper listening, is a pod of humpback whales; one of the most ancient and sacred mammals. The echoey sirens guide and submerge us deeper into the narrative, much like the all-encompassing water hauling us forward.  

As we float over the sea floor, layered in ancient history, and buried with centuries of ocean viscera, we land at a key milestone. The 340-million-year-old seabed that settles between Israel and Palestine, with the new underwater barrier blocking the coast right by the Gaza Strip.

In this voyage, water is our only constant. While everything around us dissolves into the depths of the ocean as we drift, water remains unbroken, providing an eerie sense of security in an otherwise bleak landscape.

Common Lakes explores water as memory, an archive of lived experiences throughout history. The true beauty of this piece lies in the tension between states of liquidity and states of rigidity. Formless and form. Between freedom and captivity. The seemingly ‘safe’ promise of land so nearby and the reality of its inaccessibility.

In a small way, the liquid cocoon we find ourselves wrapped in seems to be where the seed of potential lies. The water becomes the safety, a space to imagine a future of hope, possibilities and collective healing.

Still from Gili Lavy’s Common Lakes