Work by the Turner Prize nominee Fiona Banner is to be presented at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park from 19 July 2014. It will feature an ambitious new project, Chinook. The installation, accompanied by related work, is described by the artist as the culmination of a body of work started nearly two decades ago. Wp Wp Wp, the onomatopoeic name of the exhibition, is inspired by the sound of helicopters as portrayed in comic books and film storyboards.
Highlighting the absence of a helicopter’s body, Chinook, is formed from two sets of helicopter blades – suspended from the ceiling of YSP’s 480m2 Longside Gallery – rotating in opposition to one another. Hovering just above visitors’ heads as if the building were preparing for lift off, the blades are carefully choreographed and overlap giving the sensation that they might collide. Its impact is both mesmerising and unnerving.
As Banner explains: “the Chinook helicopter is an engineering phenomenon. It is visually a contradiction; it looks clumsy and prehistoric, and yet is able to perform the most extraordinary aerodynamic function. When in motion the rotor blades at the front and back of the aircraft appear to collide and pull the vast craft in opposite directions. To me, this somehow parodies the dilemma and contradiction at the heart of our relationship with the military and its hardware.”
Chinook has been developed with the support of Dr Osvaldo Querin, Associate Professor at The University of Leeds School of Mechanical Engineering, who with colleagues and a group of masters students, worked with Banner to carry out aeronautical research critical to the project.
Related works reveal Banner’s consideration of film, text and the mythologies of conflict. These include site-specific work spanning the huge windows of the gallery that gives an unreal sense of the landscape beyond, as well as Mirror, Banner’s 2007 film in which actress Samantha Morton reads the artist’s nude portrait of her, rendered in word not image; and All the World’s Fighter Planes, 2005/6, a film that animates newspaper clippings of all of the aircraft in commission around the world at that time, set to a score of music taken from classic war films.
Since graduating from Goldsmiths College of Art, London in 1993, Fiona Banner has continued to evolve an important, considered and interrelated practice, rooted in language. Her work encompasses sculpture, drawing, installation and text, and demonstrates a long-standing fascination with the emblem of fighter aircraft and their role within culture and especially as presented in film. Banner is well known for her early works in the form of ‘wordscapes’, written transcriptions of the frame-by-frame action in Hollywood war films, including Top Gun and Apocalypse Now.
Publishing, in the broadest sense, is central to Banner’s practice. In 1997, when she published THE NAM, she started working under the imprint The Vanity Press, and has since published an extensive archive of books, objects and performances, many questioning the notion of authorship and copyright. For Banner, the act of publishing is itself a performative one. Consequently, her work resists traditional notions of grandeur and exclusivity, instead deploying a pseudo formality that is playful and provocative.
Banner was shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2002. Her work has been exhibited in prominent international venues such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York and Hayward Gallery, London. In 2011, her installation Harrier and Jaguar at Tate Britain in London, in which she installed two fighter jets in the museum’s neo-classical Duveen Galleries, was the most visited exhibition in the UK that year. Banner is represented in significant collections around the world, including Tate, Arts Council England, Museum of Modern Art, New York, and Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. In 2012, Banner worked with ArtAngel and David Kohn architects to realise the Roi des Belges, a one-bedroom building based on the boat that Conrad captained up the Congo in 1890, a journey echoed in his most famous work Heart of Darkness. Here, Banner staged the world premiere performance of Orson Welles’ unrealised film script Heart of Darkness. Other recent projects include 2013 solo exhibition The Vanity Press, at Summerhall, Edinburgh and Postscript: Writing after Conceptual Art, a group exhibition that has toured to the Museum of Contemporary Art in Denver and the Power Plant in Toronto. fionabanner.com
Photo: Film still from Chinook, 2013 16mm film transferred to high definition digital film projection 10.14 minutes
© and courtesy the artist
Fiona Banner from 19 July 2014 Yorkshire Sculpture Park