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SHIPSIDES AND BEGGS PROJECTS - Another Fine Mess

 

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Another Fine Mess
Exhibition at ther Katzen Art Centre, American University Museum
Washington DC, April - August 2020 (Cancelled due to the COVID19 crisis)
Shipsides and Beggs Projects
2020

Another Fine Mess is the latest chapter within a series of fictional narratives and themes which are explored through Shipsides and Beggs’ work. It follows on from Still Not Out of The Woods and fits alongside other narratives; The Iron Way and The Lament of the Accolade Tree.

Another Fine Mess was to be a new Shipsides and Beggs Projects exhibition - video, painting, interactive sculpture and audio work - deriving from their leftfield† explorations of the terrains around the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland with a wider extrapolation exploring the messiness of connections and migrations of culture, people and textures, with particular interest in the reciprocity of Irish migration in respect to a foundling America. In this respect, it drew on previous work which was an exploration of the Wabash Cannonball – an esoterically named rock-climbing route in the Mourne Mountains which led through granite, quartz and iron to a tale of migration, railroad history, exploited labour, freedom, death coach mythology and to the musicology of the landscape.

The exhibition fell foul to Covid-19 and perhaps therefore in absence marks a time where everything changed. The crated physical work made it only as far as Dublin Airport whilst the video ‘Where the Lines End’ and audio work ‘The Crossings’ have moved on to absorb the new realties.

The audio work explores the topography of the Irish border using mapping, computer programming and musical composition to create an audio work, as a vinyl disc, which transposes elevation data of the border into music, in a poetic sense, as though a record needle was dragged across the surface of the terrain. The video artwork captures much of the strangeness of the subject matter and the changing world thereafter. It initially draws from a road-trip where the artists explored the borderlands by foot, van and canoe re-treading the landscapes, mythologies and geologies of both a fluid place of imagination and a concrete place of fact. Completed during the lockdown era both of these works absorb and display the context and the rapidly changing effects of a global crisis.

The other physical works included; a series of thirteen painted star-maps of the Irish border ‘Tear in the Fabric - Dálriata’; two hand-made painted canoes, ‘Fingers grow gnarled in the watery pass’ and ‘Icy hands hold us afloat’, which both draw on geological, folkloric and historical sources; and ‘The Gatherings’ a series of amplified flatfooting dance-decks, whose design derives from overlays and combinations of the land borders of the UK, Ireland, Mexico and USA.

Shipsides and Beggs Projects are an artistic duo of Dan Shipsides and Neal Beggs based across Ireland, UK and France.

† Here, Dan would prefer to use the term ‘pata-perceptual’ as way to describe their approach, whereas Neal would not be so inclined to add any adjective, preferring the assumption that it is ‘just what artists do’ anyway. Dan agrees with that, but feels in an era of instrumentalised art making, that there is cognitive mileage to gain from evoking and asserting the imaginative, playfulness of methodological anarchy. Either way ‘leftfield’ is no less a complicated alternative.

https://www.american.edu/cas/museum/2020/another-fine-mess.cfm
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The project was partnered by Solas Nua
The projects was awarded the Artist International Developmemt Fund by the ACNI and British Council

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Another Fine Mess

Another Fine Mess, the latest outcome in a series of exhibitions by the artist duo Shipsides and Beggs Projects, (Dan Shipsides and Neal Beggs). Here they take a pata-perceptual approach to the messy subject of land and borders. The initial land in question is Ireland, and the border is that which separates the ‘north’ from the ‘south’ - the imperial from the metric (a four-way foggy mirror).

Confident in a belief that all borders - regardless of geographic location - are one and the same, and are best understood through bookish study, adventure, myth and song, they set off on a road trip following the border elevation of real terrains, of stories and of the fleeting memories that are held in the flowing of water.

Their equipment list was simple, the luxurious bare necessities;
a van - to sleep in,
a canoe - to follow water,
an anthology of American Folk music - to reveal some truths,
a banjo, harp and cajon, and black diamond stylus - to record the high and the low patterns of time,
an old map of New Mexico - to locate the crossings,
and star maps of Ireland - to safely navigate the many drumlin jungles where folk are hunkered down in fear of the returning ice giant.

Aided with these tools the hapless duo non-agulated the elevating terrain as they went. And if you don't already know, non-agulation is a word you won't find by looking in books alone. It’s a kind of triangulation, but with fourth and fifth, and maybe more, dimensions. It requires the multiple overlay of fact with fiction and an acute eye and ear for hearsay coupled with a non-sense for meaningful connections where there may appear to be none.

The results of such calculations can be revealing. And so, they were. To name but a few; they uncovered streams of flowing cola, hypothesised high velocity insects that can pierce the metal of a road sign with a clean hole the size of your thumb, and they captured the radioactivity of big rock candy mountains.

Throughout it all they met the inevitable glooming and the surprising twinkling of this subject but below the surface lurked a wider growing darkness that only the data might render perceptible. The data, it seemed, had changed itself as it found itself scrutinised, from positive elevation starting from zero to a negative account of spread and contagion. Furthemore, the data went laterally despite showing as a peak.

At this point everything was changed and the point of their focus became blurred. They countlessly crossed the line back and forth to see if things looked different, which they did and they did not but the data continued to amass.

Then, after several ragged days and upon hearing the rumble and the roar - which told them time is short- they dutifully crossed the line heading north to the ‘south’ to meet with the Geographer, a learned one, of whom it was said could work miracles with their messy data...

 

Below will introduce the different works that were to be included in the exhibition and they will link to fuller information (in due course).

The Crossings (aka The Backstop)(music - work in progress),
Where the Lines End
(video - work in progress),
Fingers grow tall in the iron rich pass
and Icy hands hold us afloat amidst the moraine (painted canoes),
The Flatfoot Fence Hoppers
[working title] (dance decks),
Star Maps
- borderlands (inidvidual painted folded OS maps),
Cosmic Rupture - Dalradia
(wall mounted set of painted OS maps),
Wabash Cannonball - Granite, Quartz, Iron (video),
Loup - Sheepish Wolf (plywood on acacia wood base),
Wall drawing (to be done insitu - paint on scotch tape) derived from Shipsides and Beggs' drawings.

 

 

 

The Crossings (aka The Backstop) (music - work in progress);
Shipsides and Beggs Projects
Electronic music - (elevation data from the EU/UK landborder).
2020

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This work is an audio work due to be launched in July and as a vinyl disc later in the year. It's now titled The Crossings, but this might change as the work does. The audio work explores the topography of the Irish/UK border using mapping, computer programming and musical composition to create an audio work which transposes elevation data of the border into music, in a poetic sense, as though a record needle was dragged across the surface of the terrain.

Politically this border is significant, very much so historically but also today in the 'brexit' era where the “backstop” is a term referring to the backup plan for if all the negotiations in this fraught and foolish process fail. The audio composition takes the data set, (which runs roughly from southeast to northwest or from northwest to southeast), from both a north and south perspective – so it plays a bipartisan perspective. It initially involved a complex set of calculations with a massive data set (where each data point marks a distance of 37m along the border) but progressively the work structures and modifies the material into a musical composition that is faithful to both the landscape and to the artists' responses to the subject matter.

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Where the Lines End
(video - work in progress);
Shipsides and Beggs Projects
HD video with animation
30min
2020
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Where the Lines End, is a new video artwork which comes out of this project. Using raw footage and handmade effects and graphics, it captures much of the strangeness of the subject matter of borders but, completed during the lockdown era it also absorbs the context of the rapidly changing effects of a global crisis. It initially draws from a road-trip where the artists explored the borderlands by foot, van and canoe re-treading the landscapes, mythologies and geologies of both a fluid place of imagination and a concrete place of fact. It is in 4 parts and is likely to be around 50mins in length.
A trailer to this work is here: Link to come

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Fingers grow gnarled in the watery pass and Icy hands hold us afloat (painted canoes):
Shipsides and Beggs Projects
Acrylic paint on canvas on frame.
A, 2350 x 500 x 350mm. B, 2700 x 600 x 400mm
Approx. A, 8kg. B, 9kg
2020

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This canoe structure is Shipsides and Beggs’ own design based on a hybrid between a traditional Native American / Canadian canoe - a pioneer era canoe and a traditional Irish currach - a wooden frame over which material is stretched and painted. It’s one of two canoes made for the Another Fine Mess project.

These works are really paintings. Painted canvas on stretcher. Both paintings draw on geological, folkloric and historical sources encountered on the border.

The painting canoe, Fingers grow gnarled in the watery pass refers to the Bloody Pass, a secretive crossing place on the border where Shipsides and Beggs crossed in their canoe. It is a place of a Williamite massacre, where the bodies of the Jacobean dead formed a land bridge and coloured the waters nearby. Pushing through reeds, you have to trespass, to cross the border here now and the overwhelming feeling is of the spookiness of knowing the shallow waters hold the bodies of several hundred men.


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The Gatherings (3 interactive flatfooting dance-decks);
Shipsides and Beggs Projects
Plywood, resin and paint - with audio electronics
100x100x85cm
2020
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A series of interactive flatfooting dance-decks. These wooden dance-decks are designed with an internal system to amplify and modify the sound produced. The graphic design derives from overlays of USA, Mexican, Northern and Southern Ireland Border States. They play with the idea of borders and boundaries - but do so with a sense of neighbourliness, when people come together and share. The Appalachian flatfooting tradition link to forms of Irish and English folk dance and is another wonderful example of reformulated and transformed culture.

The two graphic images above come from the design and research process of playing with state and county borders, particularly those on either the US and Mexico border and those on the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland border. It turns out that you can numerically and positionally match up the number of states and counties quite well – so the ROI counties match up with the Mexican states and the US with the Northern Irish (this brings some interesting conceptual play-offs in itself). For example, west to east: California would mix with Londonderry, New Mexico with Fermanagh, Arizona with Tyrone and Texas with Armagh. Then it is possible to also overlay and create hybrid states. The resulting graphic shapes begin to form Rorschach type shapes and doing this the work starts to create imaginative links and new territories. In this sense it intermixes culturally across two borders, four nations, numerous states and many counties, which perhaps is a reality that history often finds difficult to express and hold in the popular imagination.


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Star Maps - borderlands (maps),
Shipsides and Beggs Projects
9 folded painted OS maps covering the ROI / UK border
2020

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Tear in the Fabric - Dálriata (maps),
Shipsides and Beggs Projects
13 wall mounted painted OS maps covering the ROI / UK border

MOCK-UP images. Unfortunately we do not have images of these works yet as they were crated and shipped before we had opportunity to document. As soon as the crates return from storage we will document these maps and update these images.

click to enlargeImage mixed: SBP and Heavy Metal Hero courtesy: Rodney Matthews Studioclick to enlargeclick to enlarge


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Wabash Cannonball - Granite, Quartz, Iron (video);
Shipsides and Beggs Projects
A four part video artwork
Total run time 71min
2019

Image mixed: SBP and Heavy Metal Hero courtesy: Rodney Matthews Studio
Image: 'The Heavy Metal Hero' courtesy Rodney Matthews Studios / mixed with Shipsides and Beggs Projects live documentation.
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The foundations of Another Fine Mess embrace a scepticism towards to borders especially so specifically here of the reciprocity of Irish migration in respect to a foundling America. These sentiments and interests also began to be formulated in a previous work, Wabash Cannonball –Granite, Iron and Quartz (2019), which was a performative exploration of the Wabash Cannonball – an esoterically named rock-climbing route in the Mourne Mountains which led through granite, quartz and iron to a tale of migration, railroad history, exploited labour, the protest movement, death coach mythology and to the musicology of cultural landscapes.
It is online here: http://www.danshipsides.com/DshipsidesWeb/Wabash.html

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Le Loup - Sheepish Wolf.
Shipsides and Beggs Projects
Plywood and Acacia wood
130x100cm
2018


The wolf appeared in a project in Nantes in a work called Lumiere de Loup (Nottanum, 2017) where it acted as a double edged symbol of threat, fear and predjudice (a mythology in story-telling and amplified in modern times through the screen, where wolves act as a threat to society - the other, the foreigner, the monster) but also in reality as a beautiful and an essential component of a fragile ecology. The standing sculptural plwood and wood wolf made for the Lament of the Accolade Tree features in the Another Fine Mess exhibition as the wolf again clearly resonates with this material and context.

 

 

 

 

 

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