For their exhibition at Peckham Space, Sarah Cole and the TRIBE of eleven young girls (from Southwark Arts and Culture Group) played and explored around the themes of female adolescence, feminism, group dynamics, hiding and inclusion. For the short period of seven weeks, they ostensibly formed a tribe of their own and explored its motifs, its ceremonies and its significant activities.
The green exterior of Peckham Space and its overtly-geometric outside fuzzily merges with its inside through the presence of turf. Real turf. Their turf. Soft underfoot and smelling faintly of petrichor.
Most of the 'play', crucial to their work, is revealed on video - a nice triple entendre. Most of the videos reveal the dance/movement performances the TRIBE did during their time with Cole: rolling and dancing on hills, cavorting on workshop floors, in public - displaying none of the usual self-consciousness of girls in early adolescence.
The onesie is an important feature of this show. I must confess to being a little cynical and my first impression of the onesies hanging in the gallery was a groan - against an item that seems to have gained cupcake status in certain female sections of the creative community.
Peppered throughout the space are points of musical connection. In the entrance, a gorgeous old record-player plays a custom vinyl of music from the group (arranged by Isa Suarez), a cuckoo clock keeps a rhythm for the show and on the opening night, a drum kit was set up outside the gallery - free for anyone to bash on it - a chaotic counterpoint to the ice cream truck playing Greensleaves.
Thanks to this show, Peckham Space has acquired a new mantel over the entrance with a fluorescent re-naming as Buckingham Palace. Lit up until 3am, Cole thinks that the outside of the gallery now 'looks more like a nightclub than a gallery'. The duality of irony and appropriateness betwen the hot mess of bustling Peckham is so cheeky, it's delicious.
The opening night was, in tribal terms, a ceremony: it gathered together all the people involved in the TRIBE (and those of other tribes), to come together over food - free softserve icecream, drink, drums, music and costumes to exchange ideas, ways of doing things; to touch palms.
This writing was first published on Interface (May 2013) www.a-n.co.uk/interface as the result of a Critical Writing Bursary provided to a-n by Peckham Space