DAN SHIPSIDES - 6 Star (re:public)
Top:6 Star.(re: public) Temple Bar Gallery Dublin. 2010 (click middle top image for video)
Middle: 6 Star. The Third Space Gallery, Belfast. 2011
Bottom: 6 Star. Aliceday Gallery, Brussels. 2011
Timber, plastic sheet, fixings and smoke machine
285 x285 x 40cm
6 Star was initially commissioned as the 2nd Phase pf the RE:Public project in 2010. As the final part of that project the work was dismantled and sold as firewood by the artist Peter Liversidge. It has since been reproduced in other gallery contexts such as the Third Space, Belfastand Aliceday Gallery, Brussels.
Whilst not so noticed the six pointed star appears often amongst the visual icons of Northern Ireland, especially associated somewhat mysteriously with many loyalist paramilitary (the UFF - Ulster Freedom Fighters , UDA - Ulster Defense Association and the RHC - Red Hand Commando a small group linked to the UVF - Ulster Volunteer Force) and heritage groups. It also appears on the Ulster Banner – the state flag for Northern Ireland from 1952 to 1973 (presently there is no official national flag for Northern Ireland). The Star of David is an obvious link to the grand narratives of religion originating from the Holy Lands, to which much fundamental religious belief in Northern Ireland is wedded. Nonetheless, the star’s usage and significance in Northern Ireland is opaque. As an icon of certain apparatus of power it carries positive and negative associations, but it sits without transparent commentary.
The 1st phase of Re:Public invited an artist (Rob Anderson) and architect (Mark Hackett) to design and build a structure in the gallery which would perform the function of a forum. They installed a beautiful tiered seating and a small stage in the large window area. The window looks out onto the busy Temple Bar Street.
My intervention (phase 2) took up the stage and main window space.
Basically it's a 6 pointed star in the stage/window area which fills with smoke every hour. The smoke then leaks out and hazes the space. The star could have multiple references - The Star of David, Israel, Northern Irish Loyalism (this white star is on the official N.I. flag from '58 - 73 (now abolished but still used by some county councils and the N.I. Rugby and Football supporters) and lots of Loyalist (esp. UDA) murals and of course the Masons (who use both 5 and 6 pointed stars) and the Orange Order - all quite untransparent sytems of belief and power - not quite the ideal transparency of a "re:public".
To watch short video of the star smoking click here:
I felt the stage needed something to address - some kind of emblematic branding which subverted the transparency, accessibility and openness idealised by notions of the public.
The smoking star also performs a visual device acting as an attention grabbing feature in the window space for people in the street - but which then obscures the view into and out of the gallery especially when it smokes.
And of course stages are made for stars....