Catherine Yass: High Wire
CCA, Glasgow, until Sat 24 May
FILM AND PHOTOGRAPHY INSTALLATION
In July 2007 French high wire artist Didier Pasquette attempted to walk between three of Glasgow’s Red Road high rise tower blocks. The event turned out to be somewhat anti-climatic with high winds leading Pasquette to abandon his walk after several steps out onto the wire and, terrifyingly, retrace his path. This event forms the basis of this exhibition by Turner Prize-nominated artist Catherine Yass.
The exhibition begins with a series of lightboxes featuring photographic negatives of the tower blocks, with the high wire scratched in, leaving a bright, jagged line. Inevitably, the major piece is the four-screen film installation of the walk itself, showing Pasquette from three angles, along with the view from his head-mounted camera. While some viewers of the film may be quite terrified by the vertiginous views, its detached presentation makes the walk itself seem surprisingly mundane, and undercuts the extraordinary nature of the act.
The Red Road housing development’s status as synonymous with the failure of Modernist architecture’s utopian ideal of good quality, well-designed housing for all, makes it the ideal literal and ideological centre of Yass’ project. However, it is only in the exhibition’s resource area that the conflicting passions behind the building (and survival) of the Red Road blocks becomes explicit, and while Pasquette’s wire walk is incredible, Yass fails to locate the emotion within either the event or the background subject matter.