Matthew Sontheimer
Traveling Without Moving

Talley Dunn Gallery
June 15 – August 10, 2019

Language, visual information, and their many vehicles are at the center of Traveling Without Moving. For example, the four-part collage Esther McCoy Remix makes a study of the eponymous architectural historian’s writings. Sontheimer collages McCoy’s words into a kind of free-verse meditation, anchored by the repeated image of two boys building a sandcastle on the beach. However, this image reveals many instances of appropriation and reinterpretation: each instance of appropriation becomes a layer separating the viewer from the image and distorting our experience of it. While the interaction of fragmentary text and image in this work is evocative in and of itself, the presence of a framed bibliography as the fourth element of the drawing further enriches things. By naming his sources, Sontheimer draws attention to them—yet this brings us no closer to parsing the origins of his text or deciphering its internal logic.

This exploration of texts continues with photographs that record the artist’s own accumulation of reading material yet-to-be consumed. In The Face of Looked at Mountain, Sontheimer’s pile of books becomes a monument to the material presence of texts, while the information they contain remains inaccessible. Meanwhile, the site-specific wall installation Traveling Without Moving comments on the internet as a mediator of lived experience. The installation makes present the vast amount of data that result from continual online searches, the way we navigate and experience the world in the age of the internet. Other works in the exhibition include a narrative exercise in numerology that is autobiographical, yet opaque, and an imagined fantasy connected to Sontheimer’s experience of tinnitus.