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DAN SHIPSIDES - The Stone Bridge


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The Stone Bridge
Performance / Video / Installation
SD video 4mins

This work uses certain architectural features of a gallery space to create a climbing route which takes as it starting point a situation described in a landscape image. It draws directly from a landscape mythology presented in the Chinese Ink drawing The Stone Bridge (Zhang Feng c1661) and mirrors it in contemporary activity of rock climbing.

Through a process of hybridity it re-contextualises past and present, east and west, sport and art, as it engages and reconstructs space and place.

The drawing pictures a high mountain waterfall above which hangs a rock arch and a cliff face. A Zen scholar stands in contemplation at the base on the left of the torrential waterfall. A poem accompanies the painting which proposes a test for the scholar in suggesting that “legend has it that anyone who succeeded in crossing the slippery arch and climbs the boulder there would enter paradise and become an immortal”.

The bridge spanning a large open space beyond a mezzanine area and the high walls of the open space in the OBG Gallery set in mind the association with the painting. The project incorporates these architectural elements to recreate the place in the painting. Climbing holds where needed are installed which trace a precarious and physical route across the high open wall to the large arch windows and then under the overhanging bridge and up onto the mezzanine. The route effectively engages and circumnavigates the open non-space in the gallery. A sound track, of Al Green’s "Take me to the River" playing on a boombox, accompanies the climb.

Within this piece a striving for an authentic (paradise) is proposed through the Zen poem and it might seem that the desire to experience the authentic is also inherent in our conception of space and place - with here the unattainable place of the non-space in the gallery becomes tantalisingly attainable and the endeavour to experience its authenticity demands a level of commitment which places the subject’s safety in jeopardy.

The installation consists of coloured climbing holds fixed into the wall, a plant set half way up the wall, a video monitor showing footage of the artist climbing the route.



The Stone Bridge
Performance / Installation / Video
SD video 4mins


Stone Bridge (Opening Night) from Dan Shipsides on Vimeo.


Ardous intent. (The Hanging) Tulca 2008. Group show (collab. with Neal Beggs and Tibaut Espiau). Galway Arts Centre.
Solo exhibition. GtGallery. Belfast. 2004
The Short Span Solo exhibition. Millennium Court gallery. Portadown. N. Ireland. 2004
Perspective 98 Ormeau Baths Gallery, Belfast. 1998