Sep 29, 2014

SAWTOOTH REVIEW #9

The Crowd 
Sonja Hindrum (TAS)
Sawtooth ARI, Project Gallery
5 - 27 September 2014
Review by: Tanya Bailey
Photography by: Mel De Ruyter

“How often are we alone together? “

A crowd of faceless yet endearing figures stitched onto calico and hanging from the ceiling enticed me through to the Project Gallery at Sawtooth ARI this month. I seem to be drawn to artworks that portray complex ideas with elegant simplicity and Sonja Hindrum’s “The Crowd” certainly does that.  The numerous human figures at once depict individuality and sameness: being alone and faceless within a throng of faceless others.

Despite having no facial features, each black stitched figure is distinctly individual with their character expressed through their dress, size and body shape (I must admit to spending some time looking through the figures trying to work out which one would best represent me). Standing face on with hands by their sides, each figure still manages to ooze personality.  The omnipresence of headphones and red mp3 players (or are they hearts?) on each figure does point to a deeper meaning: having to be in the same space as others but choosing to live in one’s own world and play one’s own tunes.

Red threads hang from the mp3 player/hearts stitched at chest level on each figure, giving the impression of bleeding. Not in a gory way. ... in a subtle, slow leaking kind of way that really can only be seen clearly when close up. Perhaps a representation of each individual’s heartaches/ love songs...or just a nice colour contrast to the white and black behind!

White threads suspend the squares of cloth upon which each figure is stitched with the white threads and ends of stitched black threads continuing to float downwards ending in piles on the floor. This configuration adds movement to the piece with the cloth and threads moving along with the viewer as they move through and look at each figure. Occasionally the threads trailing from one figure may touch or even tangle with another bringing to mind possible interactions between individuals in crowds, whether wanted or not.

This work was one with which I wanted to engage. I circled and inspected and moved through it, looking for similarities and differences in the figures, thinking of how I feel in a crowd, how I engage with personal technology in a public place. However, again we are given the choice as to how deeply to contemplate the layered meanings represented in the work. The simple yet effective aesthetic of the crowd of hanging stitched figures can be appreciated alone for what it is. Yet the faceless heads enclosed by headphones immediately hints at a deeper significance that encourages greater consideration. 

According to the artist “this work has been a response to our behaviour in crowds or social situations which might work against our need for solitude or the expectation to engage”. I find her response eloquent, elegant and engaging. I for one would revisit this work was “The Crowd” ever to pop up again.