Meet: Sisters From Another Mister
Sisters From Another Mister (Milda Lembertaite, Amelia Prazak & Michelle Houston) met while studying BA Performance Design and Practice at Central Saint Martins. They decided to study MA Fine Art at Chelsea College of Arts as a collective, and have subsequently been included in the 2015 Catlin Guide.
Tell us about your time studying at Chelsea?
At Chelsea we re-wired our art engine and questioned the collaborative aspect of our practice, resulting in a stronger understanding on how and why we work together. The reason for going back into education was an urge for us to be confronted with other practitioners across the wider spectrum of art. Situated on the riverside, next-door to Tate Britain, we inhabited an international family-like environment with times for reflection and critique with fellow students, tutors, technicians, security guards and other people working there. It was very important to have a studio which became like a ‘green-house’ making us grow and loose the constrains about tangible art, bridging the gap between ideas not arising only while in the studio but from the everyday, and having an everlasting love affair with life. However we had to grow quickly as time was short. We challenged our mode of work; started treating video as a spontaneous sculpture. We also expanded our thinking towards the art object; having workshops helped explore medias to appropriate ideas.
What are your greatest memories from the course?
Our memory of the past year fluctuates between time in our studio and the workshops. Also inhabiting time at Uni, after closing hours (8pm). For example, our degree show opened in September, therefore while most Londoners were enjoying the summer (in Ibiza), we occasionally grilled sausages right in front the Parade Ground. Also dancing or singing karaoke. Or always being sure that the tunes will be great in the wood workshop, and that if Abeer is working in the foundry we will listen to some local pop (maybe it’s why our practice became so influenced by the entertainment), that the fish and chips portion in the canteen is getting smaller and smaller, and how good it is to go to the Regency Café (authentic interior, authentic voice of the lady working there and that you can always find tutors secretly eating there away from students). The Parade Ground flooring light influenced so many great dance moves. Or on the way home, stopping in Bermondsey Street Park for a picnic dinner, to chat or draw ideas on a take away pizza box.
What were the greatest difficulties you faced when studying? And how did you overcome them?
Being just a one year course it felt like we started and five minutes later we finished. This means that at the end of it you need some time to look back at the year that has passed and make a plan. We believe the aim of this MA is to get you lost and it is right in that position of fluctuation, of not-knowing, that a shift to bold artwork is possible. The difficult part is to let go, not trying to control it, especially when working with other people you feel the need to justify your choices to the others. Working with others, or better said, working with friends is a choice that implies and arises through inclusion and exclusion, carrying conflict, epiphanies and dilemmas. We entered the course as a collective of three but after graduation Michelle Houston has decided to take some time for herself. Finding your own island is essential to be able to work as a collective. We think that the solution is to work through collision rather than agreements.
How did your collaboration come about?
We met in our BA Performance Design and Practice in Central Saint Martins in 2008. Since then we have lost the dividing line between friendship, collaborator, flatmate, and companion. We do not know what is waiting for us around the corner but after everything we plan to retire together (seriously). The choice of working in a collaboration derives from a mutual rejection of formalism in theatre, yet it is the theatrical quality that is now the foundation of our work. Working together allows for instability and surprises.
Where do you live? What are your favourite things to do in London?
After a year and a bit living in the crypt area of a converted church in Bermondsey (former largest church in South London), we recently had to move and ended up in Brixton on the 4th floor overlooking council buildings which are in the process of demolition. Somehow we are lucky as we have a flat and a studio. We do not like middle grounds; it’s either lower or higher, dark or light. We avoid using public transport by walking or biking. We enjoy the food and positive vibe of people in Brixton Village (do go for Lunch to the Columbian bar there!) Often we loose ourselves in gallery openings. Sometimes we escape to the secret Hampstead Botanic garden. We love ‘our’ Indian restaurant in Bermondsey where, like in mama’s kitchen, they know what we are going to order. Or stopping for a picnic on a staircase along the river in Wapping. We like making new discoveries; finding roofs to have a coffee, places/ workshops for art materials, or new hobbies, e.g. we found an outdoor boxing place in front of where we live.
Tell us about what you have been up to since graduating, and your work that got you selected for the Catlin guide…
Since graduation we have organized a group show “Frosted and Defrosted”. The exhibition was curated by Taylor LeMelle in an empty shop in Bermondsey. We have created a performative installation ‘You jump, I jump. Remember?’ for an event curated by Sadie Murdoch. The piece was a straight reaction to the after-graduation syndrome and took its inspiration from a night on the sofa watching Titanic. We have also been granted a commission by the Pullman Hotel St Pancras for an installation that will open on the 25th of February. The work for the hotel further explores themes and concepts already present in our graduation piece that got us selected for the Catlin guide. We are exploring ideas behind ‘The Importance of Being Elsewhere’, a statement that seems to be reoccurring when reading our works. Not only through the use of multiple screen installations but both physically and mentally. Also part of our formal research is the idea of liquidity and movement when showing video work. Video is not only ‘moving image’ but the image itself is allowed to move between and beyond the constraints of the television frame.
Do you ever work individually? Do you plan to in the future?
Yes, while sleeping, dating and before finishing drinking the morning coffee. Otherwise, we deal with each other’s mind from morning till evening. In the future we are planning to retire together.
What can we expect to see from you next?
Next in line is the installation for the Pullman Hotel St. Pancras, supported both by Pullman and Chelsea College of Arts. With this installation we hint at the reality of things being in transit: a body passing, moving, migrating, growing, changing, gender, state, age. Like the Anthias, hermaphrodite fish that allow for more or less radical shifts in their existence.The videos play with the idea of a movement and transition which suggest to map fantasies of runaways where imaginary images construct and deconstruct, appear and disappear, in an ‘elsewhere’ space: the ‘under water’. The liquidity of the space where the bodies are presented mirrors our formal research.