Wednesday, September 05, 2007

Silverstein Photography Annual - this Saturday September 8, 6-8pm

I am excited to be heading out to NY for the opening of SPA at Silverstein Photography on Saturday night. The gallery just added more images of the show as well as the nomination letters from the curators view a list of them here

The following is Lisa Hostetler's statement about my work...

Lisa Hostetler for Sonja Thomsen

I discovered Sonja Thomsen’s work soon after my arrival in Milwaukee in 2005. At the time, she was in the midst of her Surface series, a group of images depicting the reflective surfaces of puddles and other mundane accumulations of liquid commonly found in and around urban terrain. Her attention to this humble subject, and the care and delicacy with which she rendered its appearance, gave me pause. Soon I realized that her photographs were not the formal abstractions that they at first appeared to be. Instead, they were about moments of heightened consciousness amid the flux of everyday life—as when you glimpse a reflection in a glass of water and are launched into a daydream.

Crude functions similarly, but it plunges even deeper into the matrix of thought and emotion that comprises contemporary American life. In the current political climate, oil is a complicated subject, evoking the energy crisis and the war in Iraq. For Thomsen, it is also personal: a cousin to whom she is close served as a marine in Iraq. Her oil photographs pique these associations, yet they are beautiful, with rich, creamy surfaces and subtle details that reward extended viewing. The series points to the ubiquity and influence of oil—that raw and mysterious substance on which third-world economies depend and first-world life runs—while reminding us of its virtual invisibility in daily life. How often do we see actual oil? Thomsen’s photographs invite us to stare at it and think about it. For me, the result is an uneasy conflation of personal and political blame, along with a slick reminder of how seductive it is to look without thinking. Crude doesn’t let me do that, and that is why I nominated Sonja Thomsen for this project.

Lisa Hostetler
Milwaukee Art Museum

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