Sophie + Kerri aren’t dead yet.
by Beth Bramich
written on the occasion of our last exhibition HERE FOR A GOOD TIME, NOT A LONG TIME August 2021
Sophie + Kerri aren’t dead yet. Nor have they been ignored for long enough for a collector to come sharking around to ‘discover’ them, buy cheap and then sell high. Nope, this was fast and furious. A 6-year whirlwind romance during complicated, crushing and occasionally joyful times. And for now, their art’s too messy and wild and direct and long-form and dispersed for money men or the institutions to get on board. It’s not simple and it’s not that sellable. It’s two people making out of a shared space of thinking and feeling, and it’s been the best time seeing it grow. All these connections and communities born out of interventions, challenges, stray thoughts, questions, walks, wildness. A way of making that goes against the flow of how we’re told things have to be: friendship over competition, art that’s part of life. No one invited them to the party and they turned up with a whole band in tow.
When we spoke about it, what Kerri + Sophie wanted out of this retrospective was kind of what started the whole thing: the desire to make a den and then invite everyone in. Because there’s no space. Or no space for the messy, fun, serious, difficult, overwhelming, meaningful, glorious, playful, complicated parts of life. And by ‘everyone’ I mean more than just a crowd, an ‘us’ that is generous and generative, in a space that is public and permeable. It’s not inclusive in the sense of ticking boxes, more like, are you up for playing a game? A game in which we can rehearse the type of space or even the type of world we want. It starts with different possibilities than you might encounter in your day-to-day, let’s make a film, a band, write a script, write a sci-fi, hold space for ourselves and each other; playful enough to be freeing, a kind of performing (voicing) for ourselves and maybe others. A den as an assemblage of facts and fictions, animated by a delight in getting together to try things out, that is then expanded in all directions by what people bring in, new thoughts, ideas and interactions.
This two-person practice is, in fact, so collective it’s bursting at the seams. It’s a constellation of people and ideas, relations and invitations, chance encounters and referential coordinates. Sophie + Kerri talked about forms of generosity that kept things going, how this built into a ball of momentum, asking people to come in and share only picked up more people and things. And then there are the people that crash into you like comets: ideas, voices and ways of being you need to pay attention to. The ones that can change your whole perspective and nudge you into some new trajectory. There’s something about this collaboration being based around friendship that made it open to all these shifts and revelations, as well as able to weather the setbacks and exhaustions. A conversation about where to put both of your energy and efforts is tethered to a shared and growing sense of the politics behind that question: what rules matter, what can you bend, what do you need to keep going.
You might have felt something like it at some point. When you click with someone and you bounce off and back and it’s all about getting lost together and then to the point. There’s a sense of propulsion when you throw your lot in with someone that constantly pushes you further and pulls you back up. That ENERGY you have when it matters to the other person as much as it matters to you. So you can keep going even when you’ve fallen down a ditch a couple of times. There’s also a softness and interest when it just won’t work, a way to refocus on the question that you’re asking and maybe find a way to reframe it or say it back to you at a later date, to take what you learned and go back over what didn’t get answered this time so you can continue to pull at those threads until you’re into a whole other new thing.
It’s not ready yet, but I think that’s what this show is: all these threads. 6 years of frenetic energy that never lost its wonder and being able to do what felt right at the time, to take up space, to invite people in, to learn while performing, to offer up what ever they’d been able to get to the people around them. Thinking about the last 6 years, we’ve been through life-changing times. Not just this last, long year, this decade, this government, this capitalist death cult leadership, this climate catastrophe. What we need right now is co-conspirators to remind us: YOU CAN DO OTHER THINGS. It's DIY and it's Doing It With Others, it's raging together, playing together, it's building new constellations and coordinates together with the people around you and with the people you haven't met yet. It's not knowing everything about it and together realising what you've made.
I’ve got no idea what this show is going to be or how it can all fit in one space, because it’s years and years and it’s hundreds of people, and it’s a chunk of two of my friends’ lives. White walls could never, y’know? But I want to commend you, implore you, ask you real direct, looking in your eyes — dive in. And what I can tell you is that in there, there’s this noise that these two people generate, or more like a vibration humming between them, that’s inspiring and inviting. I’m gutted that in someways it’s got to end but I’m so glad Kerri + Sophie are leaving the party while it’s still fun.