Sophie Macpherson will be coming to London to show Deep Dancing on Thursday at Tate Modern. This time last year, Macpherson was working with artist Clare Stephenson to produce their first collaborative theatre project for Tramway, Glasgow. Entitled Shoplifters Shopgirls, the cabaret-style performance presented Macpherson and Stephenson’s sculptural and graphic work as a series of theatrical props and proxy selves, activated by a host of characters played by the artists and other non-actors. Here, they discussed the project with Steven Cairns, my former co-editor at MAP magazine:
Steven Cairns: You are collaborating on Shoplifters, Shopgirls, a project that exists within the parameters of theatre, rather than a gallery. How does it relate to your work as individuals, and how have your interests merged?
Clare Stephenson: We both make work that has theatrical connotations, but it has always been specific to the gallery. It wouldn’t operate in the same way if we simply transferred the existing elements to the theatre, so we focused more on the actions of the artist as producer, consumer and performer, among other things.
Macpherson: Participation has become a bigger part of my work; it’s a progression that has happened over the last four years. I think it’s related to being in a band [Muscles of Joy]. The screens or the sets I made in the past are like empty stages, and the viewer participates with the work physically and sculpturally. Also, I’ve always photographed myself with the objects I make (and recorded these relationships in recent films) but doing theatre is an opportunity to make it live.