Stuart Sloan: Blackstaff is Belfast

  • ©, Stuart Sloan, Blackstaff is Belfast
  • ©, Stuart Sloan, Blackstaff is Belfast

Artist(s):


Title:


    Blackstaff is Belfast

Performers:


Symposium:


Venue(s):


Medium:


    Locative Media Sound work with accompanying 2 channel video installation

Artist Statement:


    The Blackstaff River, a principal tributary of the Lagan River, flows underground from the south of the city to the centre. The majority of the river was culverted (constricted to artificial channels beneath the city) in the late 19th century. A second major culverting operation was undertaken in the 1990s. Prior to Belfast’s industrialisation, the river coursed through woodland, parkland, meadows and natural flood planes. By 1881 the river had become severely polluted and was regarded as an obstruction to urban growth. A news piece from the time commented: ‘All agree that the Blackstaff must be buried out of sight’. Blackstaff is Belfast seeks to unearth the Blackstaff River. The river is to be rehabilitated and reinstated. It shall, once again, flow freely through the heart of the city. The inflictions of modernity that had rendered the Blackstaff River grotesque shall be remedied. The river will once more become a source of growth and beauty. Visitors to the host gallery, Ormeau Baths, are invited to undertake a short augmented walk along the course of the river. Through the use of mobile technologies, a participant will be able to hear the sounds of the river flowing underground. As the walk continues history shall be reversed and the river will begin to surge back on to the land. The walk will culminate at the site where the Blackstaff River had previously entered the Lagan. Here the participant will experience the river as it was before urban settlement: a time of natural harmony. In accompaniment of the above, an abstract video document of the river will be presented. Additionally, a catalogue of images and texts accounting the geography of the river over the last 400 years will be exhibited.


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