Skip to main content

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.

 Subscribe to Praeterita in a reader

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Brancusi in Plastic

Artist Mary Ellen Croteau is showing these columns made from recycled plastic cartons and lids in the window of the Columbia College bookstore on Michigan Avenue. They are a playful homage to Brancusi's "Endless Columns", with a serious environmental message for our times:

Mary Ellen also runs a wonderful experimental art gallery in a window space in west Chicago, called Art on Armitage. I will be exhibiting a mixed media piece there during August 2012.

How to etch a linoleum block

Linoleum as a material for printmaking has been used for nearly a hundred years now. Normally, you cut an image out using special gouges similar to woodcut tools, cutting away the lino around the image you want to print. This is called relief printmaking, because if you look at the block from the side, the material that remains stands up in relief from the backing material. You then roll ink with a brayer over the surface of the block, place paper over it, and either print by hand or run it through a press. You can do complex things this way (for example, reduction linocuts), but the beauty of the process is that it is quick, simple, and direct.


A few years ago, I saw some prints that were classified as coming from etched linoleum blocks, and I loved the textures I saw in them. In the last few months, I've been trying to use this technique in my own studio, learning about it as one does these days from websites and YouTube videos. I've also had email exchanges with several pr…

Artist-Writer-Artist: Gerard Woodward

I am extremely pleased that poet and author Gerard Woodward agreed to be interviewed for this series. Gerard and my wife, Patty, were colleagues for a short while at the end of 2008, when Patty taught for one semester at Bath Spa University, where Gerard is a faculty member in the Creative Writing program. Gerard spent the spring semester of 2011 in Chicago on a reciprocal visit. Gerard has published poetry, short-stories, and novels. "Householder", his 1991 collection of poetry, won the Somerset Maugham Award in the UK, and his novel "I'll Go to bed at Noon" was shortlisted for the Booker Prize for Fiction. Of his most recent novel, "Nourishment", The Daily Telegraph reviewer wrote: "It is a novel to be savoured, and Woodward is a novelist to be treasured." It turns out that in addition to his success as a writer, Gerard started his adult life in art college, and still draws and paints when he can. So here, from a writer's point of view…