Sonja van Kerkhoff

Short bio + artist statement

Sonja van Kerkhoff in London in 2007
In London, 2007

Sonja van Kerkhoff, born to a New Zealand mother and a Dutch father in Taranaki, New Zealand in 1960, graduated in 1982 from the Otago School of Arts, (major in printmaking), Dunedin, in New Zealand and a masters equivalent from the Maastricht School of Visual Arts (Academie Beeldende Kunsten (monumentaal)) in 1993. She has a masters degree (Msc. in Media Techology, 2008) from Leiden University. She is married and has two sons and has lived in the Netherlands since 1989 and in Leiden since 1999 and is a Bahai.

She has exhibited her installations, images, or sculpture on a regular basis since 1984. A few shows are: The Other Gallery (1998), Banff Centre for the Arts, Canada, Korero Korero (2000), Sarjeant Gallery/Te Whare o Rehua Whanganui, New Zealand, Cross Culture (2001) in Bradford Cathedral, U.K., The Singeorz-Bai International Sculpture Symposium (2002), Romania, a public sculpture commission and exhibition for Urmond (2004), Limburg, The Netherlands, and Sculpting the Suburban Landscape (2007), Museum of Domestic Design and Architecture, Middlesex University, London, U.K.

Sonja van Kerkhoff performing in London in 2002
Movement for Mother and Child, 2002,
Space Station Sixty-Five, London, U.K.
Photo: Vince de Cicco, U.K

She has also shown performance and video work at festivals such as: The World Wide Video Festival, The Hague, (1995), video exhibition (1995) in Reina Sofia Museum, Madrid, Spain, performances for the Hull Time Based Arts festival, "Skint" (1996), Hull, U.K., performance + installation at the Creative Recycling Marathon, DRAP ART and the Museum of Contemporary Art (1997), Barcelona, Spain. And performance/lectures in galleries such as Quartair Gallery (2001), The Hague, Space Station Sixty-Five, London, U.K. + Wiebke Morgan, London, U.K.

She has curated shows such as The Living Creature (1999), in the Cafe Gallery, London, The Natural (2002), Te Wa, Wanganui, New Zealand, and Galerie TamTam (2009), Leiden. Gallery TamTam was located in 19 shops and public venues where the work crossed various thematic borders.
This crossing of borders is a recurring theme in her work, not just in physical terms but in the way she often weaves various modes of discourse into her work, often involving a mixture of media.
The Gardeners (2007), an interactive wall projection which visitors play with is an example of a work which functions both as a device for play and reflection. Her contributions to the show Keep off the Grass, which toured 4 galleries and museums in New Zealand in 2000, included a set of wooden sticks engraved with texts, which visitors could hold in their hands and engage with, as well as an enormous ceiling work. In this work Five pointed star divided, visitors had to twist and look upwards to read handwritten statements about genetic engineering, presented on 5 triangular pieces of lining cloth, in an exploded star formation.

Sonja van Kerkhoff performing in London in 2002
Sonja on left during her performance
Change is a Law of Nature, 2002,
Oxford, U.K.
Photo: Hilary Kneale, U.K.

She sees her works as 'interventions' rather than objects or installations, even when they are in gallery settings. Another intervention is the 3 week project: Colonising Oxford (2002), in which, as artist in residence, she used the citizens of Oxford as her medium for her performances and installations.
Recent performances in Nicosia, Cyprus (2009) involved herding paper elephants back and forth across the border between the north and south. Her c.v. at has links to pages of images and text.

Sonja van Kerkhoff performing in London in 2002
Sonja on left during her performance
Greetings from Leiden, 2009,
Nicosia, Cyprus

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