In the work of British artist Fiona Banner (Merseyside, 1966), opposites play a significant role. This concerns the relationship between words and images, man and machines, but also between the physical world and the virtual one. Her work comprises sculpture, drawings, video installations, performances, posters and books. This exhibition is Fiona Banner's first major presentation in the Netherlands, and comprises sculpture, video, photography, and bookworks.
Nose Art, 2015
Graphite, Harrier Jump Jet nose cones
In the vast industrial space of De Pont’s main gallery, Banner creates a theatrical mise-en-scène where towering helicopter rotor blades and re-purposed military plane parts become the unknowing cast. Her deft handling of these objects reveals their anthropomorphic potential: Gazelle helicopter rotor blades are reminiscent of totem poles; a pair of Harrier nose cones suggest breasts, and elsewhere faces emerge from the juxtaposition of Jaguar drop tanks with abstract graphite drawings of full stops in different typefaces. Banner has long been fascinated by military aircraft, finding them at once beautiful and horrifying; almost ‘prehistoric, from a time before words’.
This relationship to language and conflict underpins much of her work. For Banner, the ever rotating criss-cross of blades as they mark out time and space is like a language trying to happen or a text trying to be formulated, ‘It’s like they are trying to spell out something that can’t be said.’ The exhibition’s title Runway (AW17), refers to a runway as a space of performance, evoking the architecture of fashion shows, as well as a space associated with aircraft. By deploying the double meaning she draws parallels between the haiku theatre of a catwalk show and the theatre of the exhibition space. From an adjoining space, the noise of a drone melded with a tribal drumbeat can be heard.
Tête à Tête, 2014
High definition digital film, monitor, steel easel designed by the artist, 210 x 40 x 60 cm
The video installation Phantom (SS16) reveals only the shadow of the Drone Phantom camera as it aims its lens at a magazine. The pages flutter about and the publication is chased as the helicopter’s propellers stir up wind on its approach. This drone’s mission is doomed to failure; the magazine remains unreadable. Protruding from both sides of the projection screen is a long raised platform, evoking the drama of fashion shows. In this case, the catwalk is host to a graphite drawing where pinstripe patterning morphs into runway markings, a possible stage for the cast of characters seen in the main space. The prey being hunted down by the hawk-like Phantom is Banner’s recent publication Heart of Darkness, an illustrated reprint of Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella. Conrad’s tale is a story of trade and corruption, and of our own conflicts and desires. From a boat moored on the banks of the River Thames in London, the protagonist Marlow narrates his story in which he travels to the heart of the Congo in search of renegade ivory trader Kurtz, who has mesmerised and enslaved his workers.
Banner’s reprint takes the form of a glossy fashion magazine. Its text is paired with images of the City of London that Banner commissioned from Magnum conflict photographer Paolo Pellegrin, having asked him to photograph this global financial centre as a conflict zone. The book also contains Banner’s drawings depicting close-ups of pinstripe, a play on the livery and camouflage of the Square Mile. The same motif surfaces again on two nose cones from Harrier fighter jets. The title of this work, which is part of De Pont’s collection, Nose Art (2015), alludes to the aviators’ old custom of painting popular icons or pin-ups on their fighter planes.
Banners work is characterised, as she once said, by a ‘dysfunctional relationship with the image.’ That began early on when she came to a dead-end while painting images from Hollywood films such as Top Gun while at Goldsmiths College in London. She attempted to circumvent the problem by describing in words the images and movie narratives. These texts often took the form of ‘wordscapes’: films that she verbally transcribed, often making vast cinemascope drawings. On being nominated for the Turner Prize in 2002, her controversial contribution to the show consisted of a description of the porn film Arsewoman in Wonderland. In De Pont’s collection, the sculpture Work 1, a life-sized scaffold tower made entirely of glass, embodies a fragile recollection of installing such oversized wall pieces.
Banner’s relationship between the virtual and the physical is ever-present. She has often described words as her medium. She combined existing typefaces that she had used a lot in her work to create new typeface called Font, which anyone can download for free (www.fionabanner.com). Gruesome images from war movies and porn films appeal to the same primitive instincts. War arises when communication and words fail. Runway (aw17) exudes an atmosphere of imminent invasion, similar to the climate now gripping European politics, but there is also something playful about it. Connotations of words and artworks change. They are not carved in stone. ‘The work is un-static’, says Banner, ‘and that’s what really interests me about being an artist.’
29 April – 27 August 2017
De Pont Museum
Wilhelminapark 1, 5041 EA Tilburg, Netherlands
Other Criteria is pleased to announce its participation at Art Market San Francisco from April 27th to the 30th. For our inaugural year, we will present a selection of iconic Damien Hirst spot prints alongside new ceramic works by Eduardo Sarabia and works based on dust jackets of Penguin books by Harland Miller.
Art Market San Francisco – the Bay Area's leading modern and contemporary art fair – returns to Fort Mason's Festival Pavilion from April 27th to 30th, 2017. Art Market San Francisco welcomed a record-breaking 28,000 visitors in 2016. The fair's seventh edition will build on this incredible momentum, welcoming important collectors and curators with unique and unexpected installations, presentations of the best in modern and contemporary art by eighty top galleries.
Art Market San Francisco will feature important returning exhibitors and will present a dedicated program of large-scale installations, driving the art experience out into the fair's public spaces. The fair's seventh edition will also feature an exciting cocktail program created and presented by Grand Lake Kitchen, SF Chronicle's "Best Brunch in Town," along with local beers.
Fort Mason Center - Festival Pavilion
2 Marina Boulevard, San Francisco, CA 94123
VIP preview: April 27, 6pm–10pm
Fair: April 28, 12pm–8pm; April 29, 11am–7pm; April 30, 12pm–6pm
‘We put too much of ourselves into our product facades, spinning too much mass to our outer edges where we hope it is both publicly visible and instantly lovable. One problem with this strategy is that it leaves too much blank space in the middle, so there’s not much of ourselves left for lovers or friends to discover in the long term. This could be called the centrifugal-soul effect.’ - Geoffrey Miller
Mat Collishaw, The Centrifugal Soul (detail), 2016
Courtesy the artist and Blain|Southern, Photo: Rémi Chauvin
In The Centrifugal Soul, Mat Collishaw’s exhibition at Blain|Southern, the artist presents new sculpture, installation and paintings. Drawing on various forms of illusion, the exhibition explores ideas of superficial truth and the erosive effect of our primal urges for visual supremacy.
Mat Collishaw, GASCONADES (KillingIt), 2017, Courtesy the artist and BlainSouthern, Photo Prudence Cuming
Collishaw worked with evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller - whose theory is that the origins of art stem from natural instincts of courtship and reproduction - to produce the title work and centrepiece of the exhibition. The Centrifugal Soul is a sculpture in the form of a zoetrope, a pre-film animation device that produces the illusion of motion through rapid rotation and stroboscopic light.
Mat Collishaw, The Centrifugal Soul, 2016, Courtesy the artist and BlainSouthern, Photo Peter Mallet
The zoetrope animates scenes of bowerbirds and birds of paradise as they perform elaborate mating rituals. The work offers a captivating demonstration of how aesthetic diversity has evolved through sexual selection and also reflects the artist’s ongoing examination of our insatiable appetite for visual stimulation. Collishaw’s sculpture embodies Miller's idea that evolution has created an inescapable drive to be noticed above the visual competition, feeding our need for self-promotion.
Elsewhere in the exhibition, a new body of work continues the examination of visual power play. Twelve trompe l'oeil paintings of British garden birds tethered to perches reference the seventeenth-century fashion for commissioning portraits of prestige pets, made popular through Carel Fabritius’ painting The Goldfinch (1654). The colourful graffiti-tagged walls against which the birds struggle to stand outprovide a contemporary example of aesthetic boasting as a form of sexual signalling.
Mat Collishaw, Installation view, 2017, Courtesy the artist and BlainSouthern, Photo Peter Mallet
Albion is a new installation that takes as its subject the Major Oak in Sherwood Forest, Nottingham, which has an almost mythical status. This centuries-old tree has at its core a hollow rotten trunk, and since the Victorian era its vast limbs have been supported by an elaborate system of scaffolding. Collishaw's monumental, slowly rotating image of the oak is a ghost-like apparition generated by laser scanning. The image represents a living object that is trapped in perpetuity to present the illusion of life. As with the tethered birds in Collishaw’s paintings, it presents a tension between the beautiful and the abject.
Throughout his work, Collishaw has examined the way in which we consume imagery and how our biology has conditioned us to respond. The exhibition reflects the consistent themes addressed in the artist’s practice and the diversity of his chosen mediums. Moreover, it questions how much choice we have in accepting what seems to be a natural preoccupation with self-image.
The Centrifugal Soul will be accompanied by a detailed catalogue which features texts by art critic Waldemar Januszczak, evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller and an artist interview with writer James Parry.
The exhibition precedes Collishaw’s new virtual reality installation Thresholds. Launching at Photo London, Somerset House on 18 May, it will recreate one of the earliest exhibitions of photography.
Please note that this exhibition contains strobe lighting.
7 April — 27 May 2017
4 Hanover Square, London W1S 1BP