August 30, 2008 - Artangel - HIGH WIRE
August 30, 2008


Catherine Yass
17 September – 26 October 2008

The German Gymnasium,
Pancras Road, London NW1

Ninety metres above the ground, a thin metal wire stretches between three of the tower blocks in Red Road, North Glasgow. A solitary figure steps off the edge of the building and onto the line before him. He moves slowly and gracefully, step by silent step, and along the wire…

A multi-screen film and video installation, HIGH WIRE continues Catherine Yass’ interest in vertiginous spaces: architecture, height and scale have been dominant formal themes in her previous work. The installation draws on Yass’ filmed footage of Didier Pasquette taken at Red Road in Glasgow in 2007, and is as much concerned with the isolated physical space inhabited by the walker — in a landscape dominated by the brutalism of the tower blocks — as with his remarkable mental and physical transformation during the course of the attempted walk. HIGH WIRE brings together personal dreams of walking in the air with modernist dreams of a utopian ideal. The exhibition includes a new series of Yass’ lightboxes evolved from the project at Red Road.

Catherine Yass is one of the most innovative artists working with film and photography today. She was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2002 and has recently exhibited her work in the USA, Spain, the Netherlands and Japan. Her short films generate startling new perspectives on the urban environment, capturing familiar sights from highly unusual vantage points. Presented upside down, Descent (2002) was filmed with a camera lowered from a crane through the morning mist from one of the massive construction sites at Canary Wharf in London. Flight (2002) was made from a remote-controlled helicopter circling the BBC Television Centre in London. In her recent film Loc, Yass filmed the Three Gorges Dam on China’s Yangtze River.

The powerful physicality of HIGH WIRE consumes the vaulted space of The German Gymnasium. Constructed in the mid-nineteenth century for the German Gymnastics Society, the building is thought to be the first purpose-built gymnasium in Britain and was used as a venue for the first ever Olympic Games in London. It is now at the centre of the new development at Kings Cross, another urban vision.

HIGH WIRE is co-commissioned by Artangel and Glasgow international Festival of Contemporary Visual Art 2008 and produced by Artangel.


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