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Dan Shipsides - Mass Hermit Volume


Mass Hermit Volume
HD animation with video.
Dan Shipsides

This short work is constructed from one single jpeg image, re-shot footage via a home-made kaledescopic lens, and two audio field recordings.

The jpeg is of a small Zona Di Rifugio painted sign found in the snowmelt of a small avalanche in the Italian Dolomites - the sign might have travelled a distance in the avalanche. The audio is a combination of the bells of the mountain monastery at Montserrat, Catalunya, and a recording of me descending from the summit ridge there.

Poetically, physically and pata-perceptually the work moves from light to dark, from the heights to depths and from simple to complex in the way it progressively formulates and reveals its languaged form. In the location it was intended, the term ZONA DI RIFUGIO refers to a protected ecological zone, but dislocated from its place it also potentially refers to a place of refuge for people seeking safety. We can think of many geo-political contexts where displaced people move in search of safety and refuge.

The sign was found close to the summit of Monte Grappa after an ascent of the Sentiero Carlo Guzzella via ferrata with Neal Beggs (Shipsides and Beggs Projects). The Monte Grappa summit hosts a sanctuary for the Madonnia Del Grappa who sanctifies the mass grave of the bodies of over ten thousand unknown Alpini soldiers buried beneath the summit.
The Santa Maria monastery in the Montserrat mountain range houses one of the Black Madonna’s of Europe in a sanctuary nestling in the pinnacles and crags of the mountain. The monastery extends a tradition of hermitages in these mountains many of the which can still be found semi-intact perched on precarious ledges and rock pillars. The descent for mountaineers from the Cavall Bernat pinnacle involves looping abseil ropes around the feet of a half size concrete statue of the Madonna and trusting that for a blind 70m descent down to the monastery’s concrete steps.

May 2014. Sonic Vigil 8. National Sculpture Factory and The Guesthouse, Cork. (with Sebastian Hegarty)
May 2017. As part of The Iron Way. Pre-fix, Catalyst Arts / Microclima, Venice