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Sophie Macpherson

You get the impression Sophie Macpherson likes to keep moving,
creatively as much as metaphorically. This certainly seems to be the
motivation behind the Aylesbury-born GSA-trained artist’s forthcoming
solo show of texts, posters, a video and a sixteen millimeter film at
Sorcha Dallas. Macpherson’s background may be in sculpture, but as a
previous video, ‘Deep Dancing’, and a film, ‘American Dance’,
illustrate, as well as other studies inspired by magicians
bowler-hatted ‘Cabaret’ icon Sally Bowles illustrate, they are far from
still lives.

“This work came out of a sense of frustration with the stillness of
sculpture,” Macpherson says while in transit. “The films are still very
sculptural, but I’ve choreographed them in such a way that uses the
sort of physicality that film provides. It’s something I’ve been moving
towards for a couple of years. People are always saying my work is
theatrical anyway, and I’m really interested in the performance of
garments and clothes, so this is moving more into that world.”

Macpherson’s sense of theatre developed out of a fascination with the
libertine hedonism of Weimar-era Berlin. In terms of her practice,
Macpherson’s exploration of the live arena dates back to her time
co-curating Flourish Nights, a Sunday night art/performance happening
run with Lucy Mackenzie. More recently, Macpherson has worked with
dancer/choreographer turned film-maker Marisa Zanotti, while she has
made her own steps into the spotlight as a member of Muscles of Joy,
the musical collective made up of artistic fellow travelers including
Katy Dove, Victoria Morton. For a recent GI performance, Macpherson
built a series of platforms for the audience to stand on, subverting
the performer/audience relationship as she went.

Macpherson’s new show relates heavily to previous Sorcha Dallas shows
by female artists including Linder and Babette Mangolte, both of whom
addressed various aspects of dance, performance and film. It’s
significant too that all three artists took part in ‘Re/Make Re/Model,’
a group show, again at Sorcha Dallas.

While not ruling out a move into formal theatre by way of set-designing
if approached, the next stage for Macpherson is to perform herself
outside of her role in Muscles of Joy.

“Tramway have asked me to do a live thing next year,” Macpherson
reveals. “Part of the excitement of live work is to be doing it outwith
a gallery space, but I don’t know what my strategy will be yet. It may
end up taking ideas from my films and video, inviting friends to do
different movements and actions in different parts of the space. It
could be an event or not an event, but we’ll see.”

Beyond performance itself, however, Macpherson is also interested in
more everyday ways of being in terms of how one carries oneself.

“It’s a new thing I’ve been thinking about,” she says. “This whole idea
of behavioural codes and the clothes we wear and how we read each
other. That’s a completely different world to performance related work,
and is more to do with aspects of identity and the language of that. It
looks at the differences between one’s identity of oneself and how we
present ourselves to the world. It’s the struggle between the two
that’s exciting.”

Sophie Macpherson, Sorcha Dallas, January 14th-February 18th

The List, December 2010



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