High Wire

High Wire is part of The Artangel Collection. Since its initial presentation in 2008, High Wire has been re-presented several times, including installations at the Whitworth in Manchester in 2011, at Tate Britain throughout 2012, and at Berwick Visual Arts in 2013.

  • Artist: Catherine Yass
  • Title: High Wire
  • Date: 2008
  • Medium: 4 channel video. Stereo sound. 2 lightboxes
  • Dimensions: Variable
  • Duration: 7 minutes, 4 seconds.


I was interested not only in the dream of walking in the air, but also sort of broader, wider social dreams. I was thinking about utopias or dreams of better societies, which are higher in the air. — Catherine Yass, 2008

High Wire is a video installation comprising four projections, which was filmed at the Red Road housing scheme in North Glasgow. While one screen shows an overview of the estate, another shows a highwire artist attempting to walk a wire strung between two of the highrise blocks, 100 metres above the ground. Built in the early 1960s, Red Road was once the highest social housing in Europe, a triumph in city planners’ dreams. Into the void between the planners’ concrete dreams, another kind of dreamer, the French high-wire artist Didier Pasquette, steps out – at first gracefully, then hesitantly, and then he stops. High Wire is the ultimate expression of Yass’s enduring interest in the vertiginous view. It juxtaposes the containment of the concrete blocks and the modernist idealism of streets reaching into the sky, with the freedom of walking in the air. The videos are accompanied by two reversed negative lightboxes of different views of Red Road into which she has cut a sharp line to represent the high-wire.

For Yass the preoccupation with flight is always at the forefront of her work. “It represents something to do with freedom of the air, really for me, and the fantasy of not being bound by anything.” In High Wire, this fantasy has been encompassed in wider social dreams, serving to highlight the problems of practicalities, community and place that remain throughout Britain’s inner cities. Pauline Bache, Aesthetica Magazine, September 2008.

Image: Catherine Yass, High Wire (detail), 2008.

At Berwick Visual Arts

Berwick-upon-Tweed, 22 June - 15 September 2013

High Wire was presented during Summer 2013 at Berwick Visual Arts. Installed in the Gymnasium gallery beneath the town walls, visitors could see people walking above them along Berwick’s ramparts – a visual repetition of Pasquette’s high level walk being screened in the gallery. The installation was part of the 'Walk On' group exhibition, which explored artists’ use of walks and journeys, both literal and metaphorical, since the late 1960s.

Image: Catherine Yass, High Wire, 2008 (detail) at Berwick Visual Arts, 2013. Photograph: Berwick Visual Arts

At Tate Britain

London, Throughout 2102

High Wire was installed at Tate Britain throughout 2012 as part of Tate's 'Art Now' exhibition series, which features significant new work by emerging artists.

Image: Catherine Yass, High Wire, 2008 (detail) at Tate Britain, 2012. Photograph: © Tate, London, 2012

at the Whitworth, The University of Manchester

Manchester, 2 July - 4 September 2011

High Wire featured in 'Projections', an exhibition of four moving image works from The Artangel Collection, shown within the context of the Whitworth, its collection, and the park that it shares with the city of Manchester.

Video: Mary Griffiths, the Whitworth's Curator, discussing the installation of High Wire.

Filmed at the 'Projections' exhibition at the Whitworth, The University of Manchester, in July 2011. Courtesy of Tate.

Previous Presentations

Since the launch of The Artangel Collection, High Wire has been installed at: