‘…how will I ever know if I have reached the horizon? There will always be a horizon waiting.’11 10 ’15 (notes from diary)
Time and memory are broad concepts that outline sonam’s practice, narrowing to their changing textures and interrelations- how alternative temporalities challenge their linear constructs, thus, intensifying the fragmentation of time and the incoherence of memory.
Time and memory merge into each other; they are like the two sides of a medal. It is obvious enough that without Time, memory cannot exist either. But memory is something so complex that no list of all its attributes could define the totality of the impressions through which it affects us. Memory is a spiritual concept. For instance, if somebody tells us of his impressions of childhood, we can say with certainty that we shall have enough material in our hands to form a complete picture of that person. Bereft of memory, a person becomes the prisoner of an illusory existence; falling out of time he is unable to seize his own link with the outside world- in other words he is doomed to madness. As a moral being, man is endowed with memory which sows in him a sense of dissatisfaction. It makes us vulnerable, subject to pain.Andrei Tarkovsky (From Sculpting in Time: Reflections on the Cinema, pages 57 and 58)
The immersive temporality of a space and how it molds our memory, are experienced in her works through the process of collecting the (in)tangible objects that encapsulate the effects of time on them as memory markers, or as collecting time itself. They materialise through video installations, interactive art, found objects, artist’s books, or ephemeral mediums like sound, automated-calling systems and instruction-based art, among others. She tries to make the viewers conscious of their act of looking or engaging with her work, confronting them to their present and leaving with an unsettling residual feeling.
The question for me always is how can I make you aware of your own activity of looking, instead of loosing your attention to thoughts about what it is that you are looking at.Uta Barth.
The intention is not to reach a definite conclusion, but to emphasise on certain slow and mundane experiences, to be conscious and observe minutely.
The feverish urge of the present world to drift into the rabbit hole of screens constantly craving for our attention, further being accelerated by the pandemic, has made her realise how slowness, rest, hibernation, solitude, day-dreaming and lingering around, are forms of resistance; how niches for respite can only be built from and within the capitalist machinery itself. The technologies and schemas that businesses and governments capitalise through, are manipulated in her works, to lead slow journeys of slow accumulation. This is attempted by converting time into a currency in her recent project, KAIROI (2019-’20), a time-sensitive vending machine that collects/accumulates people’s time in order to slow them down and reflect on the current speed of life. Similarly, it’s seen in her collaborative project -out-of-line-, that uses the disruptive and ubiquitous technology of automated-calling system to transmit sound works over the phone line. Projects like occurrences (2018) further deviate from the tangible mediums of expression, towards ephemeral modes of provocation i.e. instructions, by inserting memories in the participants’ lives, and therefore, collecting their experiences. Can the liminal separation between art and life be transgressed by navigating through the experiences and technologies that permeate our present speeding lives?