in the space of elsewhere - CODAworx

in the space of elsewhere

Submitted by Sonja Thomsen

Client: Madison Museum of Contemporary Art

Location: Madison, WI, United States

Completion date: 2017

Artwork budget: $15,000

Project Team

Lead Artist

Sonja R Thomsen

Museum Curator

Leah Kolb

Madison Museum of Contemporary Art


Sonja Thomsen choreographing space for wonder. In 2017 Thomsen was invited to activate the 70 foot luminous lobby of the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, Madison WI. ‘In the space of elsewhere,’ was multi-story activation of space hovering between image and experience. Through photographic murals, sculpture, and ambient light she mobilized an immersive environment that played with Cesar Pelli’s dynamic architecture in the museum lobby. Thomsen also worked with the museum to produce a monthly public programming series to take place within the installation, encouraging the public to consider wonder in a variety of disciplines; programs included a local chef, a renowned particle physicists, a poet and and choreographer.


An artist led intervention (by Sonja Thomsen) in the architecture and use of the public space was at the heart of this commission.


Sonja Thomsen collaborated with curator Leah Kolb at the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art to produce the 5 month installation, publication and monthly public programming. Art + Mass was a program with artist Sonja Thomsen and UW Madison Professor and particle physicist Wesley Smith participated in a discussion regarding his role in the discovery of the Higgs Boson particle and the role of wonder in his work.

For, Tangible Space, live performances in the atrium, Thomsen invited choreographer Maria Gillespie to produce 2 unique improvisational public performances moving throughout the three levels of the 70’ atrium. The dancers were accompanied by a cellist, Pat Reinholz, who constructed a score inspired by the exhibition publication.

Additional Information

Milwaukee-based artist Sonja Thomsen brings her photographic way of seeing to MMoCA’s lobby and Icon in a new commissioned installation titled in the space of elsewhere. Mobilizing the properties of light and time, she created an immersive environment that plays with the way light and shadow interact with the museum’s soaring architectural features. Her thoughtful placement of large-scale photographic murals, mirrored objects, metallic netting, and iridescent substrates will simultaneously direct and scatter beams of light across the lobby walls, floors, and surfaces, delicately interrupting the visual plane of the building’s interior and transforming our encounters with light, space, time, and movement.