Banner has created Font (shown in action in the text below) to accompany two new exhibitions of her work, at Frith Street Gallery in London and Ikon in Birmingham. The Ikon show, which opens on October 10, is the first major UK survey of Banner’s art, featuring works going back over 25 years.
Banner has explored language and words in works going back to the 1990s. In 1997 she wrote Nam, a 1,000 page book which recreates Hollywood depictions of the Vietnam War, including Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket, in text form. Exhausting in both length and in its relentless violence, Nam brings back into focus the brutality of the war that has now become a source of entertainment.
She has examined porn films in a similar manner and also ‘drew’ a female nude in a life drawing class in words rather than pencil.
Coinciding with her exhibitions at Ikon and Frith Street, Banner has created a new version of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as part of Four Corners Books’ Familiars series. The book (shown below) has the appearance of a glossy magazine, though features photographs shot by Magnum photographer Paolo Pellegrin, who was commissioned by Banner to record images of city workers in London.
These are combined with Banner’s abstract drawings of pinstriped material, the uniform of the city. The book also appears in a video at Frith Street where a drone is shown attempting to read it – every time it gets close though, its down draft blows the pages around wildly.
Prior to creating Font, Banner examined the markings we use to express ourselves by creating sculptures of the full stops from typefaces including Optical, Courier and Klang. With some blown up to three metres in height, they are abstracted into beautiful, Henry Moore-seque shapes.
Banner’s mashed up typeface serves as a shoutout to the many fonts she has used across her work and perhaps also alludes to the slipperyness of words, a recurring theme in her art. And while a little ugly – type purists will no doubt balk at it – it is surprisingly legible. You can download it for free at fionabanner.com.