Soho Projects: FrenchMottershead Over the Threshold
FrenchMottershead, We cope with the pressures of living in a small space, 2011 © the artists, photo: FrenchMottershead & Adrian Wood FrenchMottershead & Adrian Wood
For the first of The Photographers’ Gallery’s Soho Projects, artist duo FrenchMottershead present Over the Threshold, a series of photographs resulting from their six month residency in London’s Soho. Inspired by the people who live in Soho, Rebecca French (UK, b.1973) and Andrew Mottershead (UK, b.1968) wanted to go beyond street level and step over the threshold, meeting residents in their homes and uncovering the invisible social networks that unite them.
Working collaboratively and performatively with groups of residents, FrenchMottershead have produced eleven narrative works recalling classical tableaux and the storytelling devices adopted by artists such as William Hogarth and Pieter Brueghel. Themes include coping with the pressures of living in a small space, the challenges of urban gardening, the ongoing battle to defend residents’ rights, as well as the joy of being able to walk everywhere and the evocative early-morning experience of hearing the Household Cavalry exercise their horses through the Soho streets. Visual clues arise from the poses the sitters adopt to the clothing and objects they bring with them to the shoots.
Over the Threshold provides a unique insight into the everyday lives and domestic spaces of those who call Soho home. Frequently overlooked as a residential area, Soho houses up to 5,000 people, many in social housing. During their residency, FrenchMottershead met people from all areas in Soho and witnessed the strong sense of community to be found there. Their final work subverts expectations, presenting a very different place from its general public perception.
The brief exhibition from 19 until 22 May at 1 Berwick Street represents just one aspect of Over the Threshold. The eleven works will be presented as a limited edition book, a series of postcards and on the hoardings outside The Photographers’ Gallery’s redeveloped building at 16 – 18 Ramillies Street.
Soho Projects is a series of commissions that use photography to explore and document London’s Soho area. Presented by The Photographers’ Gallery and supported by Bloomberg it will comprise three bodies of work. Starting here with FrenchMottershead, followed in the Summer by the work of the Swedish documentary photographer Anders Petersen and completed with the artist Fiona Tan’s London installation of her Vox Populi series.
FrenchMottershead are Rebecca French and Andrew Mottershead, London based artists whose predominately site-specific work looks at the conventions of social exchange and its relationship to the public and private realms in which they are played out. Their work aims to reveal often ignored acts or communities and to invite people to take part in the creative act of producing these works, as shown in their approach to Soho in Over the Threshold.
The Photographers’ Gallery is currently undergoing a major £8.7million redevelopment project to transform its building at Ramillies St, just off Oxford St. Reopening late this year with three dedicated gallery spaces, an education floor as well as its much loved Bookshop, Print Sales and Café, it will be a dedicated place for photography in the heart of London. Commissions such as Soho Projects allow the Gallery to continue its activities during this time and to maintain its links to the Soho area, which has been an integral part of the Gallery’s 40-year history.
Bloomberg is committed to improving the quality of life for people around the world. Its collaboration with The Photographers’ Gallery on Soho Projects aims to inspire artists and audiences to engage with photography in new ways around London.
Exhibition Dates: 19 – 22 May 2011
Location: 1 Berwick Street, Soho, London W1F 0DR