Patricia Shiplett “Break On Through to the Other Side” at Snelgrove

Patricia Shiplett, or Patty, has a very nice installation-exhibition in the Gordon Snelgrove Gallery until the end of the week. This is a show that you need to spend some time in, absorbing and reflecting on what is going on. It’s place to meditate and reflect on your reality, mortality, what might lie beyond. It is a quiet journey about one’s existence. There’s a delicate balance that this exhibit walks; teetering between elements of psychedelia (through various uses of lights/lasers) while also grounding you and connecting you to memory and self reflection. There’s hints of phantom mysticism and I found myself searching for something deeper than average reality. Lights appear like spirits. Many of Patty’s projections have moments of beauty, that you want to grasp on to but they quickly fade away. Maybe it’s something to be said about the impermanence of life.
Everything someday will go away.
But were they ever there? What is the basis of our reality, is it really real.
One projector cycles through the lit words “are you really sure you really are”


The largest sculpture in the exhibition is in the center of the room as you walk in. A few bundles of branches that are wrapped in a way that feels like a funeral rite. Then surrounding these bundles are lit tubes containing sapling plants. Accompanying the ground sculpture is a wall projection that shifts between light clusters resembling cell division and Patty’s own archival footage of domestic scenes or something resembling old biology films. That’s the thing with this whole exhibition. There is a vague familiarity with a lot of elements but you are never completely sure. Which brings you back to that phrase ..are you really sure you really are? Back to the sculpture, Bring your own meaning to it, I felt like I was witnessing the life cycle. Old plant life, with new plant life, and the projection being the non-physical; memory and consciousness.


To the side of the entrance is a long sheet of plexiglass with thousands of spiked glass shards poking through, the whole thing is back-lit by a red LED. The lighting effect made a line with a large round shape above it. The circular shape is a good focal point but it’s nice to explore the peripheries of this piece seeing the light and shadow play as its shines through this complex surface. The shape of the red circle with the line made me think of a persons silhouette maybe a Buddha, but another person I spoke to saw a horizon with a sun.


On another wall is bands of color on a wall. When inspecting this more you realize that each band of color is actually a distorted video feed. There’s moments during these bands videos that their colors and pattern have a beautiful harmony together, but just as you realize it, it changes. You do this a lot with her exhibit. Finding a moment and it disappears. Makes you want to watch through it again to see that moment. Patty told me that they were streams of consciousness. Which makes sense, people’s lives are sometimes in tune with each others then they keep moving. Whatever it is, I like it.


Here we have cut portions of Emerson Poetry, plants, and a photo of a man and a skull.
A collection of thoughts, an example of life, light, and the physical body.
-I liked the reflection of the lights inside the box. Like phantoms of something existing somewhere else.


Here’s another projection. A figure appears and disappears into the background, fuzzed up, sometimes looking like a blob more than a human. Looks like a moving abstract painting. The figure in dark blue amid a blue background with the hint of a warm inviting light behind the figure. There’s something nice about it.


Beside that projection is a light box photo with a shifting laser pyramid. The light box photo is a person behind a screen with hands and chest close to the screen. It reminded me though of the face of a fetus in that strange development phase when fetus of humans, sharks, bats, dolphins all look the same,


My favorite film is on the north east wall. There’s two sections of this film that I really enjoyed. One moment there are globes of light traveling across with an ambiguous structure that might be double exposed. But eventually it clarifies to a bus seat and the reflections of the city traveling by.


At another point in the film is a beautiful wall of color that has slight variations and shifts throughout it, as it slowly moves into another color. It didn’t seem like a computer made color, because it feels like there is more substance and depth to it and knowing Patty’s tendency of collecting odd bits of interesting things she films over the last four years it was probably more.I asked Patty about it and she told me that she shot this scene into a pool of water that was under-lit.


Patty’s has a few of these slow pulsing lights that she calls portals. They fade and shift through different colors. Once again it had me staring into light trying to find the best color combinations but was also good to imagine nothing else existing but this globe of light. If it was a portal, would you enter?

Particia Shiplett’s show is really worth seeing. There’s a lot of interesting work that she brings the viewer into exploring with her. I mentioned a few things but there is a lot more. A big factor in the success of this exhibition is mood inside the gallery. With blacked out windows you don’t know what to expect. Entering in you see lights, lasers, strange sculptures and many projections but the music sets the tone. The exhibit is paired perfectly with a soundtrack composed by her son Alex Stooshinoff (aka Living Room).

The music is integral to gallery experience, Alex’s music slows you down, calms you, and grounds you. It’s beautifully rhythmic seemingly in tune with your breath that aids the gallery guest to begin the process of introspection that Patty’s work calls for. Like Patty’s practice of collecting film, Alex pairs his melodies with samples of sounds that he’s recorded through a pilgrimage in Spain. The soundtrack brings life, memory and comfort to what could sometimes be a strange exhibit.

While exploring death, this show also explores life, meaning of existence and memory.
If you want to take a quiet journey and explore something different than your usual gallery. I suggest you take in Patty’s show while you have the chance.