‘…how will I ever know if I have reached the horizon? There will always be a horizon waiting.’11 10 ’15 (notes from diary)
Alter-egos — silelming/ shatvi/ blueno/ slowski/ S.sea…
Apart from being an artist+educator, I’m also a knitter, a plant stealer, a poet-or-not, a relief volunteer, a diarist, a collector of found objects, a tree lover, a book binder, a non-pursuing swimmer, a snail-mailer, a listener & observer, a somnolent, a warm hugger and other things that I’m still figuring out…
I’m highly sensitive to loudness, brightness and talking — hence my room is always dark, I stay up till sunrise, my phone’s brightness is always at zero, I almost faint when a car honks by, I can become invisible, I’m telephonophobic, won’t respond for days and happy to let you do all the talking,:)
(this is the part where i talk about myself in the third person and act all formal and serious o_O)
Time and memory have been the primary points of inquiry in sonam’s practice- experimenting and investigating alternate temporalities (experiential/ unorganized/ incoherent time) that resists its linear constructs (concrete/ organized/ coherent time), thus fragmenting memory in the process. She is interested in understanding what role time plays in the current economic structure predominantly dependent on converting each hour into production time/ speed-hour while capitalizing on attention-time. How do you ‘spend’ your time? 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.
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)
Her research/enquiry materialises as video installations, interactive art, found objects, artist’s books, or ephemeral mediums like sound, automated-calling systems, instruction-based art and alternate art spaces/initiatives, 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 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?
sonam has studied at Faculty of Fine Arts– M.S. University, Baroda and Shiv Nadar University, Greater Noida. She has initiated collaborative art projects like first draft and –out-of-line–, received the FICA Public Art Grant for –out-of-line–; received Five Million Incidents grant for KAIROI; she was Artreach India’s third teaching fellow in 2017. She has participated in exhibitions at Max Mueller Bhavan, FICA, India International Centre, IGNCA, Bikaner House and Mumbai Art Room, among others and was an artist-in-residence at What About Art? (Mumbai), Utsha Foundation for Contemporary Art (Bhubaneswar), O.P. Jindal Global University (Sonipat) and Kammari Residency (Treis Elies, Cyprus). She is also the founding member of the NGO- Jeevan Stambh Foundation (supporting lives and livelihoods) started during the pandemic in 2020 and Artreach India’s Apprenticeships, Internships and Mentorships (AIM) manager.