DAN SHIPSIDES - ha ha - syzygetically speaking (Cathederal Quarter Arts Festival)




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Two events:
'ha ha – syzygetically speaking' public artwork for CQAF 27th April to 26th May 2023.

Green Room (Black Box) exhibition (opening 6pm Thursday 4th May) 5th to 25th May 2023.

ha ha – syzygetically speaking
Deployed around seven sites throughout the Cathedral Quarter area, Shipsides presents a public artwork featuring a series of twinned flags that play with and celebrate the expanding communicative beauty and potential of the spaces between laughter and language.
ha ha



Dan Shipsides opening at the Green Room, Black Box Thursday 4th May 6pm.
A photographic series of the flags from another location are exhibited in the Green Room, Black Box from Thursday 4th May to the 26th May, capturing the syzygetic unfurling and furling of the uttering of time, space, language and laughter.
ha ha



Shipsides, an artist based in Orchid Studios, Belfast, exhibits nationally and internationally and has received multiple awards. He works individually and within collaborative dynamics, notably that of Shipsides and Beggs Projects. He also teaches at the Belfast School of Art.

Dan Shipsides is the 2023 recipient of the CQAF Visual Arts Bursary Award.


ha ha: Prevailing winds. It is worth recognising the role of the prevailing winds in our engagement with the world. There are many prevailing winds. Some are so light we barely perceive them and others so strong them dominate everything. Here is a wind that prevailed upon me about language, laughter and the world;

Whilst being able to speak, the only words the blue-faced baboon Bosse-de-Nage (Faustroll’s sidekick in Jarry’s Exploits and Opinions of Doctor. Faustroll, Pataphysician, 1911), utters throughout the story are, “ha ha”. The book, however, elaborates on the meaning of these utterances, duly expounding the ontology of being and the measuring of time and space. Daumal, in his essay, (Pataphysics and The Revelation of Laughter, 1929), rearticulates these ideas locating laughter as a creative force at the centre of the universe.

Like any flag (although, as they are ubiquitously deployed in authoring and asserting fixed and symbolic identities then this might not be generally or widely accepted – and under such winds, flags are either a celebration or a provocation) the only time the flag’s signifier is fully produced is when the wind fully unfurls the fabric to fully display the text or motif. This is even more rarely so with two flags that should read together, where this event could be further understood as a syzygy (the coming together of worlds), in that it takes the flukes of the wind, sunlight, and perception all to come together at a single moment to fully capture the two unfurled flags rendering as ‘ha ha’.

At other times the signifier is partially or undisclosed disclosed and therefore, we should also accept that it might potentially then be disclosing something quite different (for example, like similar words which denote very different things). With the ‘ha ha’ flags, described here via machine writing, we might see such things as; ‘h’, ‘(‘, ‘(a’, ‘/:’, ‘h;’, ‘\a’, although this also goes to show the slippage between machine writing and those letters appearing in real space, perhaps ink and brush might serve better to describe this? Furthermore, this demonstrates the inadequacy of language to firstly; always render itself fully, and secondly; in both partially furled and unfurled forms, fully account for reality.  In many ways words are usually in a wind of some sort, prevailing or otherwise, which like laughter and like the stammer, should open challenges to our representational and linguistic faith.

Speaking as someone who stammers and likes to laugh, the partial or semi-furled utterances of the ‘ha ha’ flags, and Bosse-de Nage’s more-than-human statements, and Daumal’s laughter, act in the same way that we might consider a stammer, not as a limitation or failure to be fluent with faithful expression, but as a difference gateway that configures new material patterns of reality and offers insight to the sleight of hand and limitations of language.

With another prevailing wind, the flags would clearly simply celebrate laughter.
­‘ha ha’.