Fiona Banner: Scroll Down and Keep Scrolling
10 Oct 2015 – 17 Jan 2016
Free to all
The most comprehensive exhibition of the artist's work to date.
When Fiona Banner first exhibited ‘NAM’ in 1997 – a 1,000 page text in which she recounts six films based on the Vietnam War scene-by-scene – critics labelled it ‘unreadable’. In response, Banner staged a performance in which she read the book aloud in its entirety. Defiant, humorous, daring – this duo of works provides an apt opening to her latest exhibition in Birmingham.
‘Wordscapes’ are now a key part of the artist’s oeuvre; in 2002 she received a Turner-Prize nomination for a text-based piece in which she describes the plot of a pornographic film, while she has also applied this method to life drawing – observing a model and transcribing their pose into text. They form part of the artist’s ongoing exploration into the limits of language; as she told Nude Portrait in 2009, ‘sometimes it’s not enough, or it’s in the way, and obviously sometimes (in life and in art) it doesn’t work right as a tool for communication’.
Similar themes informed the Full Stop sculptures, in which Banner contemplates the implications of punctuation signs. For this show she punctuates the gallery space with examples in different fonts which have been blown up to human proportions.
Completing the career-spanning display are her latest works in film. For example, Tête à Tête captures two mechanically operated windsocks in a silent dialogue based on a scene from a costume drama. Again we see Banner address the boundaries of language in our struggle to communicate.