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Artist-Writer-Artist: Fiona Banner

Fiona Banner is an artist who takes text as her medium in a way that some artists use clay, or paint. In the 90s she produced a 1,000 page book called Nam, which was the result of her sitting and watching, back to back,  four Vietnam movies - Apocalypse Now, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, and the Deer Hunter -  and writing down what she saw, in real time.


NAM
, Fiona Banner

Black Hawk Down, Fiona Banner

Banner has also created word drawings where she sets up an easel before a nude model, but instead of depicting the model with lines, she writes a description of what she sees, and how she is experiencing what she sees. Sometimes she does this in front of a small audience, turning the action into a form of performance.

This is an artist who definitely writes at length, but not in a way that encourages prolonged reading of what she has actually written. A phrase that crops up a lot in interviews and writing about Banner's writing is "frustrating narrative expectations." Mission accomplished. Very often I find myself giving up after a few hundred words, and I just stand back to look at the whole piece, which resolves itself once more into a shape, a form, an image, a pictorial element. This is no doubt the point, which means we are back in the realm of meta-art, of irony, of commentary upon the act, rather than the act of writing (and reading) being a shared space in which to recreate an experience in words.

More thoughts on this later.

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