Leon McDermott, (Metro Life, 31/05/2005)
The Sorcha Dallas gallery is, as the programme notes for Sophie Macpherson’s show reminds us, ‘hardly big enough to swing a coat’.
However, the eponymous gallery owner and curator has made its tiny size – little more than 3 metres by 3 metres, with a cubicle of office space hidden in the back – something of a virtue over the past year.
One of the minds behind the now-defunct Switchspace project, which took over people’s living rooms and abandoned shop spaces for site-specific installations, Dallas has a keen knack for knowing what works in confined spaces, as does Macpherson.
The three works on display her (plus a fourth, situated in the newly acquired space next door) concern themselves with movement, with space, with the restrictions, both mental and physical, that people place upon themselves.
One corner of the gallery is taken up by a vast wooden sculpture which resembles nothing so much as one view of a modernist totem: stark and monotone grey, it rises up to the ceiling in silent contemplation. Diagonally opposite, mounted on the wall, at knee height, are some boots in a row. They’re enlarged versions of the kind of models assembled from pressed, cut-out cardboard: each section – heel, toe, leg – fitting into the others so that tab A goes in slot B, and so on.
Except that these boots are made of concrete: heavy, immobile, utterly unsuited to their purpose, they sit there waiting to be used, knowing that they never will be.
Movement is proscribed, Macpherson seems to say, with the aesthetic demanding that the practical be sacrificed. Gravity holds down the wearer of these boots, constricting their desires and reminding them that if they do escape its pull, it will only ever be temporary and fleeting, the space they inhabit necessarily small and predefined.
A bright collage that evokes dancing costumes hangs nearby; this, maybe, is what the wearer of the boots dreams of - the vivid costumes they could wear while dancing, if only they could free themselves.