15 September – 05 November 2016
Gallery Barbara Thumm is pleased to present its fifth solo exhibition with acclaimed British artist Fiona Banner.
The exhibition reflects Banner’s multi-disciplinary practice which looks at the politics, limitations and possibilities of language. Key works from her recent survey shows at Ikon Gallery Birmingham and Kunsthalle Nürnberg investigate the slippage between object, image and text and highlights the central role of Banner’s publishing imprint, The Vanity Press, in her work since 1997.
Banner’s new film Phantom features her most recent publication, an illustrated reprint of Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”. In this film a drone camera simultaneously observes and harries the book like a hawk chasing down its prey. As the drone attempts to focus on the text and images, the downdraught from its blades blow the pages back and forth in an endless fluttering dance. The publication under scrutiny takes the form of a glossy magazine bringing to mind notions of luxury and desire. Here the text is paired with images of the City of London that Banner commissioned from Magnum conflict photographer Paolo Pellegrin. The book also contains Banner’s drawings depicting close-ups of pinstripe, a play on the livery and camouflage of the Square Mile.
Massive floor to ceiling graphite drawings depict close-ups of pinstripe suits enlarged to become oppressive, repetitive clashing patterns. This iconic cloth of ceremonial City dress is then metamorphosed again, this time as a motif on bespoke moulded plywood chairs, designed by the artist. The bent plywood forms operate as functional chairs, but are also a sculptural take on the human form, drawn over in pinstripe patterning, they themselves become like characters observing the film works. Pinstripe also appears as an adornment in the sculptural drawing Nose Art which sees two Harrier Jump-Jet nose cones fixed high on the wall. The term ‘Nose Art’ refers to a military form of folk art, where aircraft are graffitied often with popular cultural icons. Banner sees the nose cone as the most heroic part of an aircraft, in this piece they are reminiscent of hunting trophies or breasts.
In the towering Agent Provocateur a single illuminated electronically powered windsock stands over a copy of Banner’s version of Heart of Darkness. Its beam is a search-light attempting to focus on the book, while an intermittent current of air agitates the pages. Rising and falling, to various apparently random degrees, it performs a new language. In motion Windsock becomes an expressive character, no longer just machine but rather a snout, a limb, a cartoon.
You can download a portfolio of selected works (PDF, 1.3 MB) below
Fiona Banner, selected works, Galerie Barbara Thumm, 15 September – 05 November 2016