Fiona Banner: Fighter Planes & THE NAM
As 2010 wraps up, I wanted to highlight one artist and exhibit that truly astounds. The Young British Artist is Fiona Banner and her exhibit – on display since June at the Tate Britain – is the Duveens Commission 2010, AKA Harrier and Jaguar. Both pieces are huge, on account that they are the completely assembled bodies of two decommissioned fighter planes – a British Aerospace Sea Harrier hung upside down, and a SEPECAT Jaguar laying belly up, with an elegant chrome finish.
I like the way the installation transforms vehicles meant for dropping bombs into something beautiful and thought provoking… it’s a juxtaposition that leads viewers down a remarkable train of thought.
Four things hit you, in this order:
1. The startling massiveness of a plane dangling in front of you in a building.
2. An appreciation of each plane’s beauty & design, matched with the admission that “we’ve come a long way in technology.”
3. A very sad realization that these vehicles were designed to destroy human life and architecture.
4. The necessity of making peace with yourself for recognizing beauty first and human suffering second, which leads to a personal connection with the art & artist.
The paradox of war planes has been an obsession of Banner’s for a long time – she’s created several works of art around them, including a 154-page book entitled All the World’s Fighter Planes where she documents all fighting aircraft (planes and helicopters) with newspaper cuttings. She also has an extensive collection of fighter plane models (I read that she has ALL of them), which she hung in a 2006 exhibit called Parade.
Published through her “Vanity Press” imprint, Banner released a book called THE NAM, which is: “a 1000 page all text flick book. It is a compilation of total descriptions of well known Vietnam films, Full Metal Jacket, The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now!, Born on the Fourth of July, Hamburger Hill and Platoon. The films apparently never begin or end, but are described in their entirety, spliced together to make a gutting 11 hour supermovie.”