In the work of Berlin-based artist Kathrin Sonntag, nothing is ever quite how it first appears. Encompassing photography, film, sculpture, and installation, Sonntag’s practice reveals an uncanny world of odd angles, unexpected likenesses, and visual puns. In her photographs and slide installations, seemingly casual arrangements of quotidian objects turn out to be carefully orchestrated compositions staged for the camera. Other works focus on aspects of language such as onomatopoeias, slips of the tongue, and other moments of linguistic mimicry and substitution. Through the use of trompe l’oeil wallpaper, colored gels, and sculptural objects, Sonntag’s recent exhibitions have effected a kind of visual transposition of the space of the studio into that of the gallery or museum. Architectural space and photographic space blend into one another, as objects and images variously reflect, distort, and intersect with one another in seemingly impossible configurations. In her most recent series of photographs and videos, Sonntag juxtaposes various objects with cut-paper silhouettes of similar forms, playfully acknowledging one of the primary conditions of photography itself: namely the mapping of a three-dimensional form onto a two-dimensional matrix. Often backlit so that the objects themselves are seen in silhouette as well, these works evoke Plato’s famous Allegory of the Cave, whose prisoners are unable to distinguish between the reality behind them and its cast shadows on the cave wall before them, further encouraging the viewer to question assumptions about how and what we see.
Kathrin Sonntag was born in Berlin in 1981, where she currently lives and works. She received her BA and MA from the University of the Arts, Berlin. Recent solo exhibitions include the Kunstverein Hamburg; Kunstraum Walcheturm, Zurich; Swiss Institute, New York; and Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst GAK, Bremen. Her work has been included in recent group exhibitions at the Kunstverein Hannover; the Third Moscow International Biennial for Young Art; Städtisches Museum Abteiberg, Mönchengladbach; and Sculpture Center, New York; among others. In 2009 Sonntag received the Swiss Art Award from the Dr. Georg and Josi Guggenheim Foundation. She is currently a finalist for the 2012 Dorothea von Stetten Art Prize at the Kunstmuseum Bonn.