Ctrl+P: Photography taken offline – Sonja Thomsen

Ctrl+P: Photography taken offline is an exciting venture at Catherine Edelman Gallery inspired by the hundreds of photographs we see on blogs and online galleries. Started in January 2011, CEG introduces Chicagoans to new artists we find while searching the web, exhibiting a small selection of one person’s work every two months, taking the pictures offline and putting them on the wall. It is our goal that Ctrl+P will provide further exposure for these photographers away from the glow of a computer monitor and without the temptation to click to the next link. We hope you will join us by unplugging from the internet and visiting CEG to see these photographs the way they were intended — in print.

Our latest installment of Ctrl+P features an installation of images by Sonja Thomsen. Thomsen is a conceptual artist working in photography and installation, based in Milwaukee WI. She received an MFA in photography from the San Francisco Art Institute in 2004 and a BA in Biology & Studio Art from Kenyon College in 2000. Thomsen’s photographs have been featured in group & solo exhibitions throughout the United States and Iceland. Her work is in the permanent collection of the Milwaukee Art Museum and Ljósmyndasafn Reykjavíkur. Thomsen’s work has been exhibited at the Reykjavik Museum of Photography, Reykjavik Iceland; New Mexico Museum of Art, Santa Fe, NM Silverstein Photography, New York City, NY; Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison, WI. Thomsen was a Hermitage Fellow in 2008 and a nominee for the Santa Fe Prize in 2009. She was most recently granted the 2011 Greater Milwaukee Foundation’s Mary L. Nohl Fund Fellowships for Established Artist Award.

Untitled [Ref. #L05], 2004-2009 © Sonja Thomsen
Untitled [Ref. #L05], 2004-2009 © Sonja Thomsen

As my practice has evolved I find myself less interested in the individual image’s narrative and invested in the power of the sequence to carry content. Curious about the space between images I am chasing the transient with the stillness of a photograph. Constructing works that weave place and person to convey beliefs about youth and aging, loss and wonder.

Many of the work’s inception stems from being one of a large extended family with rich oral histories tied to the bucolic midwestern landscape.  With a gene pool programmed for longevity I have been surrounded by and responsible for the care of elders and issues of aging and dementia have become common threads in my practice.

An interactive installation of photographic reproductions, titled lacuna, creates a constellation of recollection, as transient in nature as memory itself. Several small-scale images hang on the wall, some as stacks of reproductions waiting to be peeled away by the public. Throughout the duration of the installation as the images are removed they fade and reveal an impression in Plexiglas of the image that was once there. Place and person become symbol and impression in the work creating an emotive narrative suspended in the gap between, a man straddling dementia, a boy in his teenage prime, hands cradling the last harvest of raspberries.

Sonja Thomsen’s website

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