SONDER: A site specific installation of new works by Kenturah Davis


n. the realization that each passerby is living a life as vivid and complex as your own, populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness; an epic story that continues invisibly around you like an anthill sprawling deep underground with elaborate passageways to thousands of other lives that you will never know existed, in which you might appear only once as an extra sipping coffee in the background, as a blur of traffic passing on the highway at a lighted window at dusk*

* from the Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows



Scanning this QR code takes you to the SONDER microsite

Visit the sonder microsite at which documents the entire process of the production and creation of this exhibition.



Artist Statement:

At the moment of this writing, the term “sonder” and its definition has only recently begun its course, clinging to the fringes of our ever-expanding lexicon. You will not yet find it in the Oxford or Webster’s dictionary; rather, I found it and its origins in the onlineDictionary of Obscure Sorrows, a collection of newly assembled words that seek to embody the more oblique experiences of (post)modern life. I have appropriated this word for a new series, naming it in its honor.

The exhibition features a large site-specific installation and several related lightbox drawings. The large installation is composed of three layers of translucent textiles, suspended from the ceiling, several feet apart from one another. Each panel bears a text, stamped in ink from top to bottom. The text is strategically layered to render several life-size figures, thus the image is drawn by virtue of applying the text to the material. The translucency of the material allows the viewer to see through parts of the first panel, into the second, while the distance between them allows the viewer to traverse inside the installation.

The first panel, bears the word sonder and its definition, in repetition. The second panel bears the same text, however, converted to binary code. The third panel, is drawn with a custom made QR (Quick Response) code stamp, so those with mobile devices may scan a square section within the drawing and be taken to a URL with documentation on the show.) They are lit from above to intensify the image impressed on the surface, as well as to cast the shadows of the viewers passing by.

In a structural sense, the drawing establishes a backdrop by which its audience may participate in the very realization proposed by the word, sonder. Upon approaching the work, we can begin to decipher that the first/front panel conveys a text and, at an intimate proximity, can read it to trigger a curiosity about the figures depicted in the drawing. The text on the second panel, a tapestry of the binary numbers, elicits a reading that is not comprehended in the literal sense; rather, it presents itself as a coded matrix that references a reduced expression of our existence. The third panel, QR code, is intended to engage technology in a self-reflexive look at the content of the work, by linking the viewer to a microsite with images and text about the project.

As one moves about the space to encounter the drawing at various positions one becomes part of the work, engaging with the likeness of strangers and the other people walking through the space. At an instant one might cast a shadow on one panel while being superimposed with text by another panel. Thus, the drawing constantly changes with the presence of others, making one both a viewer and participant.