Fiona Banner

Merseyside UK 1966, lives and works in London

Fiona Banner's early works took the form of 'wordscapes' or 'still films' - blow-by-blow accounts written in her own words of feature films including Point Break (1991) and The Desert (1994). These works formed single blocks of text, often the same shape and size as a cinema screen. Her Iconic publication The Nam is a mammoth 1000 page book describing the plots of six Vietnam films in their entirety.

Banner’s practice encompasses sculpture, drawing, installation, bookmaking and performance, she has often returned to language and its physical form, from creating sculptural full-stops which literally punctuate gallery spaces to  huge wall drawings describing in words everything from apopular films to The Battle of Hastings. Later works use military airplane parts and even whole fighterplanes; instruments of war which the artist sees as the result of language's failure. 

For the last few years Banner has been working with neon sign makers  creating her own hand-made neon pieces dealing with the alphabet and punctuation in a pictorial way. Using neon tubes has led the artist to think about glass, its possibilities and limits. 

When describing the work in de Pont's collection the artist states, “I spend a lot of time up scaffold towers during the making of large wall drawings, so the experience of being high up on a scaffold is intimately associated with process, the tension between the idea of the work and the completion of the work; between something not existing and existing, it’s a kind of fantasy space, it is a precarious moment. When the scaffold is gone I always miss it”.
Similarly the reality of art itself is often temporary - it is put up, installed, then moved, or erased, stored, folded or unfolded. Work 1 echoes the lean yet unintentional aesthetics of this structure, which combines maximum strength, with maximum temporality. Banner toys with the sense of vertigo embedded within such an architectural object, one which can morph and adjust to its given context or required function of physically lifting us from the ground. By using glass to build that which is meant to support, Banner compounds the inherent fragility of the very medium she is using. Through it she provides us with a structure that plays at a game of opposites - it is present yet implies an absence, solid while also remaining transparent. A scaffold is a form that is associated with the preparation of an exhibition, the making of an artwork, yet it is always removed before the opening. Here the scaffold becomes the sculpture, the major exhibit itself.

watch an interview with Fiona Banner on TateShots