in the space of elsewhere, 2017

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison WI


A 2017 commission (on view June 17 – November 12) to activate the 70’ atrium of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art. In the Space of Elsewhere, teased at the physicality of photography. It became a multi-story activation of space with photographic murals, refracting panels animating the ambient light. Within the six month run of the installation, Thomsen also co-created a public programming series around wonder.




Reveal Event, Saturday, June 24, MMoCA Lobby: 3–6 pm: Beginning at 3 pm, guests are invited to join Thomsen in MMoCA’s Lobby to experience her awe-inspiring installation. At 4 pm the artist and a multidisciplinary panel will discuss the role of wonder in the creative process. In addition to being among the first to view the installation, guests to this event can also enjoy a poetry reading by Rita Mae, music by DJ Frozen Horse, cold beverages from Brenner Brewing, and an Edible Experience presented by VEA featuring Chef John Churan. Admission to this event is free.

ART+ Mass, Monday, August 21, MMoCA Lobby and Lecture Hall: 5:30 pm: In conjunction with Forward Fest, MMoCA will present ART+ Mass with Sonja Thomsen and physicist Wesley Smith. This event will offer a dialogue on art as a lens and tool for exploring and documenting new discoveries in particle physics.

Talk and Workshop: Artist Books, Saturday, September 16, Arts + Literature Laboratory: 2 pm: As part of the Arts + Literature Laboratory’s creative workshop series, Sonja Thomsen will discuss the role of bookmaking in her installation practice. She will also offer critiques to any participants who wish to share work with the group.

Artist Talk, Friday, October 13, MMoCA Lobby: 6:30 pm: Sonja Thomsen will discuss the conceptual framework and material process for in the space of elsewhere, her site-responsive installation on view in MMoCA’s Lobby.

Kids’ Art Adventure, Sunday, November 5, MMoCA Lobby and Education Classroom: 1–2:30 pm: Artist Sonja Thomsen will discuss her interest in “wonder” and lead an art experience based on the forms and materials used in her installation. Kids’ Art Adventures invite children ages 6 to 10 and their adult companions to explore artist’s ideas and processes. Organized in conjunction with the Wisconsin Science Festival.

Gallery Talk: Professor Karen Schloss,  Saturday November 12, In conjunction with the Wisconsin Science Festival, professor Karen Schloss will discuss her scientific investigations into sensory perception of color, shape, and motion and relate her work to Thomsen’s artistic practice. Admission to this event is free.

Choreographer Maria Gillespie presents Tangible Space, September 29 & October 13 – a performance and movement installation, in collaboration with artist Sonja Thomsen, and in response to the notions and materials of Thomsen’s site-specific exhibition, in the space of elsewhere. Dancers inhabit and activate Thomsen’s multilevel installation, which extends vertically from MMoCA’s ground-floor lobby and up the building’s iconic, three-story glass windows. Much like Thomsen’s work heightens awareness of our surroundings, Gillespie ’s choreography similarly calls attention to the materiality of touch, the rootedness of presence, and the of movement light. The dancers’ expansive gestures compose a kinesphere that is elusive and ephemeral, yet still maintains a presence that is achieved through witnessing and reflecting the movements of others inhabiting the space.  Performers include Milwaukee-based choreographer Maria Gillespie with performers Emily Bartsch and Joelle Worm, and cellist Pat Reinholz. Dance platform sculptures are by Chicago-based artist Mike Rea.



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"We do not see it start, and yet it always starts the same way, that is, it [imagination] flees the object nearby and right away it is far off, elsewhere, in the space of elsewhere." Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space, 1958

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