The Green Room Exhibitions: Dan Shipsides for CQAF

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Visual Arts

The Green Room Exhibitions: Dan Shipsides for CQAF.


4 May, 2023


Doors at 5pm, Exhibition Launch at 6pm



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In addition to the photographic work, Summit Stammer – ha ha (Bearnagh) exhibited at the Green Room,  Shipsides will present a connected public artwork, ha ha – syzygetically speaking which is deployed throughout the Cathedral Quarter area as 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: 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 they 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 employed 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, might open challenges to our 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 one ought to 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 world reality and offers insight to the sleight of hands and limitations of language.

With another prevailing wind, the flags would clearly simply celebrate laughter – having a laugh.

ha ha

Dan 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.

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