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DAN SHIPSIDES - Abstraction for beginners


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Abstraction for beginners

Abstraction for beginners.

DVD 3mins

The video footage shows the climber/artist climbing the Vault, a 1970s’ public sculpture in a Melbourne city park. The large steel slabbed abstract sculpture, named by locals the Yellow Peril, has been shifted from site to site due to public outcry. The climber/artist, however, finds a new form of appreciation in its’ steep corners, smears and overhang. The slowed down video emphasises a tongue in cheek sense of the epic. It displays an anarchic sense of the potentiality within public engagement with public artworks.

It raises issues arond the public relationship to public sited artworks. Sculptures are often found to be used as skateboarding obstactles or as “grafitti signboards” extending their initial purpose of a gallery outside to more interactive role - whether the artist or commissioners’ like it or not. It presents a new usage or appreciation of the art public project and perhaps a new take on the “ready-made”. It could also represent the dialogue between high and low culture - with formal abstraction being straight from the culture of the gallery and this form of rock climbing coming from a urban/rural “youth” culture.

The title suggests a tongue in cheek way of understanding or learning “abstraction” through the direct but subtle sensibilities of climbing as apposed to a learned or assumed sensibilities of modern visual culture.


Beta. Solo exhibition. GtGallery. Belfast. 2004
The Short Span Solo exhibition. Millennium Court gallery. Portadown. N. Ireland. 2004