From street style to theatrical costume, high art to DIY clothing, Sophie Macpherson playfully questions the role of clothes and gesture in our day-to-day lives working across drawing, sculpture, text and film. In her art, hyper-stylised outfits sit alongside prop-like objects in theatrical settings or performances. Clothes become animated as performers in her films or appear like sculptures in the gallery space, and sculptures are re-used as props in her performances. Through such substitutions of artwork, body, costume and prop, Macpherson explores our relationship to clothes and their display.
Examining the potency of clothes for subcultural groups, Macpherson often combines highly theatrical notions of costume with elements of street style. The wardrobe worn by the faceless figures that appear in her films and drawings fuses elements of casual branded street-wear with references to theatrical costume. Hoodies, tracksuits and white trainers meet elements of Bauhaus, cabaret and Art Deco to create moments of camp theatricality, gang subculture, high fashion and consumer fetishism.
Macpherson’s films and live works inhabit a stage-like space where human figures, backgrounds and objects are equally important. Performers appear dressed in brightly coloured or patterned outfits against backdrops of a similar nature, blurring the distinction between people and props. Macpherson draws her choreography from everyday movements and actions, which when they are repeated can become strange, uncanny and ritualised.
In her 16mm film A Series of Movements (2011) she explores this relationship between everyday behaviour and abstract action, using her sculptural works as props. The film American Dance (2010) features the artist herself wearing a pair of male-cut Levis and performing a series of movements derived from both Scottish traditional dance and Los Angeles contemporary street dance. Developing these themes into an ambitious live format, in 2011–12 Macpherson worked with Clare Stephenson on Shoplifters, Shopgirls, a series of vignettes, or short scenes, carried out by a temporary troupe comprised of Macpherson’s artistic peers.