THE GIRLS is a collaboration between English artists Zerelda Sinclair and Andrea Blood, spanning seventeen years. ‘Think Angela Carter crossed with Cindy Sherman.’ Liz Hoggard (London Evening Standard, 26/4/10)
The Girls begin talking at 0:46
Sinclair and Blood met at school in Dorset (UK) in 1992, aged sixteen, first collaborating as The Girls in 1996 at Central Saint Martins, London. In 2006, after a seven year hiatus from their practice, they began making new work as The Girls. Their practice focuses on creating staged tableaux, with the outcomes including photography, video and performance. Encompassing black comedy, surrealism, camp, gender, Englishness, and a celebration of the absurd, The Girls’ practice takes on elements of the carnivalesque, albeit in their own distinct fashion.
The Girls are rarely absent from their images, they often perform live in the gallery, yet they always remain enigmatic. Sinclair and Blood shed their individual identities to become The Girls, a compelling, chameleonic duo who are always unmistakably present in their work, but just out of our reach.
The Girls’ performances and staged tableaux blur or distort the binary divisions between rich and poor, ugly and beautiful, powerful and meek through costumes, masks and assumed identities, as discussed by Bevis Fenner in his essay about The Girls’ practice, The Grand Grotesque Parade: Carnivalesque and the British Seaside (2011). We see The Girls as Queens, characters from fairytales, ghostly beings and mermaids in a range of works that sit somewhere between self-portraiture and performance. Just who are these women whose image we are presented with time and time again, yet who are always concealed behind masks, wigs, costumes and makeup?
Connected through a haunted, end-of-the-pier quality, the works exhibited in their 2013 solo show in Belfast, Alive for Your Pleasure (Naughton Gallery), were all created or originally performed in The Girls’ seaside childhood home town of Bournemouth, celebrating the strange nature of popular seaside pleasures, from freak shows and fish and chips to the waxy ‘breathing’ automata of yesteryear.
The Girls have exhibited internationally, including at The Photographers' Gallery, the ICA, the National Portrait Gallery, PayneShurvell, the Art Car Boot Fair, Beverley Knowles Fine Art (all London), Golden Thread Gallery, Naughton Gallery (both Belfast), and UNO+UNO (Milan). The Girls’ Studio (Tate Britain, 2010) was a special commission for Loud Tate, and in collaboration with The Photographers' Gallery, The Girls were artists-in-residence at Selfridges’ Ultralounge, London, in 2010. The Girls' collaboration with curator Julia Royse saw them transform a British postal van into a shrine to England's postal heritage (Art Car Boot Fair, 2011). The Girls conceived and directed The Grand Grotesque Parade, a multi-collaborative commissioned project for the Bournemouth Arts by the Sea Festival 2011, which re-imagined a forgotten Edwardian carnival. They most recently performed at Palazzo Zenobio as part of 2013’s Venice Biennale in association with Arts Pavilion Bournemouth.
With thanks to Ben Crothers and Bevis Fenner for this text, and to PayneShurvell for the video.
© 2013 The Girls, Andrea Blood and Zerelda Sinclair. TheGirls.co.uk