Sophie Chapman + Kerri Jefferis write manifestos. They write in marker pen on walls and on sugar paper sheets, all caps: statements, questions, quotes. They also write rules, for each other and other people, provocations and terms of engagement. There are schedules too, and to-do lists and in-jokes and scores. It’s a part of externalising their process — a necessary one when working together as a pair or in larger groups — and it significantly shapes what is to come. These texts and diagrams are preparatory materials, scores for activity, but sometimes after the fact, they are one of just a small physical trace of actions that involve a handful to a hundred or more people.
Let’s move forward a little. Kerri + Sophie exclusively work together, but their practice is anything but exclusive. Private Insurrections to Loosen Public Ground started as ‘Mum’s Qs’, a call for submissions circulated through an online residency with The White Pube and fly-posting across South London. The invitation was to write a question, or questions, that you would like to ask your mum. The responses, offered and gathered anonymously, were startling. Or at least, they startled me. In number, and in their sincerity, humour, pain, confusion and understanding. ‘Have you ever worked out what makes you happy? I’m worried you’ve forgotten.’ ‘Why do you tell yourself your life is about someone else?’ ‘Would you be heartbroken if you never had grandchildren?’ A question that you wanted to ask, had never asked, or never thought to ask, suddenly articulated. Part of the invitation, once your question was written, was the now open option to ask this question of the person (if they are present or contactable) or to hold on to it, and to reflect on why.
Read the full essay here.
Written at METAL Southend and at home in London, December to February 2019. Published as part of Sophie Chapman + Kerri Jefferis’s exhibition ‘Gutteral Living’ at Ebor Studios, Greater Manchester.