1986-1989BA Fine Art, Kingston Polytechnic, London, England
1991-1993MA Fine Art, Goldsmiths College, London, England
2017Runway (AW 17), Museum De Pont, Netherlands
2016Buoys Boys, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, England
Au Coeur des Ténčbres, mfc-michele didier, Paris, France
Fiona Banner, Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin, Germany
Fiona Banner, 1301PE, Los Angeles, CA
Scroll Down And Keep Scrolling, Kunsthalle Nuremberg, Germany
Study #13. Every Word Unmade, Fiona Banner, David Roberts Art Foundation, London, UK
2015 Scroll Down And Keep Scrolling, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK
FONT, Frith Street Gallery, London, UK
2014 Wp Wp Wp, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, UK
Mistah Kurtz - He Not Dead, PEER, London, UK
2013 The Vanity Press, Summerhall, Edinburgh, UK
2012Unboxing: The Greatest Film Never Made, 1301PE, Los Angeles, CA
2011Snoopy vs The Red Baron, Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin, Germany
2010The Naked Ear, Frith Street Gallery, London, England
Harrier & Jaguar, Duveen Commission 2010, Tate Britian, London, UK
Tornado, Co-commission by Locus+ and Great North Run Culture, Newcastle, UK
All the World's Fighter Planes, Musée d'art de Joliette, Québec, Canada
2007Peace on Earth, Tate Britain, London, UK
Every Word Unmade, Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin, Germany
The Bastard Word, Power Plant, Toronto, Canada
2006All the World's Fighter Planes, Printed Matter, New York, NY
Nude & Parade, Tracy Williams Ltd., New York, NY
Nude, Frith Street Gallery, London, England
Fiona Banner, 1301PE, Los Angeles, CA
2004Arsenal, Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin, Germany
2003Fiona Banner, 1301PE, Los Angeles, CA
Fiona Banner,Murray Guy, New York, NY
2002Fiona Banner, Frith Street, London, UK
Your Plinth is my Lap,Neuer Aachener Kunstverein, Aachen, Germany
Your Plinth is my Lap,Dundee Contemporary Arts, Dundee, Scotland
2001 Fiona Banner, Murray Guy, New York, NY
Areswoman in Wonderland, Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin, Germany
Rainbow, 24/7, Hayward Gallery, London, UK
2000Souixante-Neuf, Charles H. Scott Gallery, Emily Carr Institute, Vancouver, Canada
Fiona Banner, 1301PE, Los Angeles, CA
1999Fiona Banner, Murray Guy, New York, NY
Statements, Basel Art Fair, Switzerland
Asterisk,Gesellschaft für Aktuelle Kunst, Bremen, Germany
Don't Look Back,Brooke Alexander, New York, NY
The Nam and Related Material, Printed Matter, New York, NY
Stop,Frith Street Gallery, London, UK
1998Art Now, Tate Britain, London, UK
The Nam, 1301PE, Los Angeles, CA
Love Double,Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin, Germany
1997The Nam: 1000 page all text flick book, London, UK
Only the Lonely,Frith Street Gallery, London, UK
1995Viewing Room,Luhring Augustine Gallery, New York, NY
1994Pushing Back The Edge Of The Envelope, City Racing, London, UK
2017Turkish Tulips, The Bowes Museum, County Durham, UK Summer Breeze, Frith Street Gallery, London, UK Sunset Decor, Marian Goodman Gallery, New York, NY Words Words Words, Gallery Sofie Van de Velde, Antwerp, Belgium A Map they could all understand (The Hunting of the Snark, Lewis Carroll, 1876), Galerie Albert Baronian, Brussels, Belgium Cinéma Mon Amour. Film in Art, Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland Artist Spaces, Weserburg Museum of Modern Art, Bremen, Germany Murray Guy, Murray Guy, New York, NY
2016Diana Thater and Fiona Banner, 1301PE, Los Angeles, CA
NEON: The Charged Line, Grundy Art Gallery, Blackpool, England
Never Judge a Book..., Richard Booth's Bookshop, Hay-on-Wye, England
Found, Foundling Museum, London, England
...and yet one more world, Kunsthaus Hamburg, Germany
2015Walkers: Hollywood Afterlives in Art and Artifact, Museum of the Moving Image, New York, NY
Periodic Tales: The Art of the Elements, Compton Verney, Warwickshire, UK
Dora, Stanley Picker Gallery, London, UK
Station to Station: A 30 Day Happening, Barbican Centre, London, UK
Void: There's Nothing More Left, But A Little Trace From Human Beings, Ginkgo Space, Beijing, China
Le Souffleur: Schürmann meets Ludwig, Ludwig Forum for International Art, Aachen, Germany
Fiona Banner / Ann-Sofi Sidén, Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin, Germany
2014The Nakeds, De La Warr Pavillion, East Sussex
Stamp Out Photographie: Fiona Banner selects from the V-A-C Collection, Whitechapel Gallery, London
The Nakeds, Drawing Room, London, UK
Summer Exhibition, Royal Academy, London, UK
Building Site, Hardwick Hall, Chesterfield, UK
Postscript: Writing after Conceptual Art, Broad Art Museum, East Lansing, MI
This Page Intentionally Left Blank, Akbank Art Center, Beyoglu, Istanbul
2013Knock Knock: Seven Artists in Hastings, Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, UK
Words to be Spoken Aloud, Turner Contemporary, Margate, Kent, UK
Tracing the Century: Drawing as a Catalyst for Change, Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, UK
Word.Image.Space, Gesellschaft fur Kunst und Gestaltung, Bonn, Germany
I Think It Rains Quadrilogy 2, Hong Kong, Burger Collection at Cattle Depot Artist Village, Hong Kong
Usherwood, Paul. "Martin – Waygood Gallery." Art Monthly issue 216 May 1998: 34-35.
"Words of Art." Times Metro 29 August-4 September 1998.
1997Bury, Steven. "The Nam." Art Monthly June 1997: 46.
Collings, Matthew. "JUST A GLIMPSE of Meaning?" Modern Painters Summer 1997: 69-71.
Coomer, Martin. "Close Encounters." Time Out 28 May 1997: 47.
Cruz, Juan. "Fiona Banner and Bridget Smith." Art Monthly June 1997: 30-31.
Feaver, William. "Are you going to take this sitting down?" The Observer 18 May 1997.
Searle, Adrian. "Me, me, me, me." The Guardian 22 April 1997.
1996Banner, Fiona. "A Brush with Genius." The Guardian 27 May 1996.
Barrett,David. "Profile – Close Up." Art Monthly no. 194 March 1996: 20-21.
Feaver, William. "Primal Screen." The Observer 25 February 1996.
Kent, Sarah. "Reel to Real?" Time Out 28 February 1996.
Mars-Jones, Adam. "Affairs of the Art." The Independent 27 February 1996.
Sladen, Mark. "Moby Dick." Art Monthly no. 193 29 February 1996.
Wilson, Andrew. "Spatialised Time, Unchecked Duration: Film and Video work by Contemporary British Artists." Art & Design Magazine no. 49 1996:85-92.
1994Dannatt, Adrian. "Exposure." The Sunday Times Magazine 5 June 1994.
2016Font book. London: The Vanity Press, Bywater Bros Editions and Presentation House Gallery, 2016.
2015Scroll Down and Keep Scrolling. London: The Vanity Press, Ikon, Birmingham and Kunsthalle Nuremberg, 2015. Heart of Darkness. London: The Vanity Press and Four Corners, 2015.
2014Wp Wp Wp. London: The Vanity Press and Yorkshire Sculpture Park, 2014.
2013The Vanity Press. London: The Vanity Press and Summerhall, 2013 Edinburgh Arts Festival. Untitled (September magazine). London: The Vanity Press and Amsterdam: Roma Publications, 2013.
2012No Image Available. London: The Vanity Press, 2012.
2011 Delahunty, Gavin and Christoph Benjamin Schulz. Alice in Wonderland, Through the Visual Arts. Tate Publishing, 2011. Snoopy Vs The Red Baron. Joanna Pocock Galerie, Barbara Thumm, 2011. Dworkin, Craig and Kenneth Goldsmith. Against Expression, An Anthology of Conceptual Writing. Northwestern University Press, Illinois, 2011.
2010 Carey-Thomas, Lizzie and Dave Hickey. Duveens Commission 2010: Harrier and Jaguar. Tate Publishing, 2010. ISBN 978-1-907118-95-1. London: The Vanity Press, 2010. To Venus in Five Seconds. The Vanity Press, 2010.
2009Performance Nude. Other Criteria, 2009.
2007The Bastard Word. London: The Vanity Press, The Power Plant Contemporary Art Gallery, 2007.
2006 All the world's a fighter planes 2006. London: The Vanity Press, 2006.
2005Bonds of Love. Lisa Kirk Projects, 2005. Body: New Art from the UK. Vancouver Art Gallery & The British Council, pp. 18-19, 2005.
2004All the world's a fighter planes 2004. London: The Vanity Press, 2004. More London, Sculpture. More London Development Ltd, published to accompany the More London Sculpture Project, 2004. Daddy Pop. Anne Faggionato, published to accompany the exhibition from March 24 to May 7, 2004.
2001Carpenter, Ele and Graham Gussin. Nothing: Exploring Invisibilities. Sunderland: August and Northern Gallery, 2001.
2000Donnelly, Nora. "Freedom, Style, Sex, Power and Motion – the Cult of Cars." Customized: Art Inspired by Hot Rods, Low Riders, and American Car Culture. Boston: Institute of Contemporary Art, and New York: Harry N. Abrams, 2000.
1999Babel –Contemporary Art and the Journeys of Communication. Birmingham: Ikon Gallery, 1999.
Banner, Fiona. 36 Full Stops. London: Imprint 93, 1999.
Bloemheuvel, Marente and Jaap Guldemond. Cinéma cinema. Eindhoven: Stedelijk Van Abbemuseum, 1999.
Gooding, Mel. Contemporary Art at Penguin. London: Penguin, 1999.
Ruf, Beatrix. Art at Ringier 1995-1998. Zurich: Ringier AG, 1999.
Stallabrass, Julian. High Art Lite. London: Verso, 1999.
Woods, Alan. "The Present Sure is Tense." Transcript vol. 3 issue 3. Dundee: Jordanstone College of Art, 1999.
She has filmed a helicopter ballet, melted a jet – and caused a storm by transcribing a porn epic. Will Fiona Banner's latest work go further?
Rising up through the middle of Fiona Banner's two-storey studio is the upturned wing of a Tornado fighter plane. From the first floor, you can see its tip, slicing ominously through the floorboards like an oversized shark fin. If you lean in close, you can make out hundreds of words etched like hieroglyphics into the wing's smooth metal: "arse", "shadow", "light behind stark against dark skin".
This is Tornado Nude, a work Banner made four years ago: a female life model stood naked in front of her while she painted a description on to the wing of a decommissioned jet. "The Tornado," Banner tells me as she shows me around this high-ceilinged east London space, in which her many works are propped against walls and arranged neatly on tables (a plant sits on a sun-terrace in an old aircraft propeller), "is a really, really important and very vicious airplane. And then I engraved this very delicate and traditional life drawing on to it, in words, and now that's become part of it. It's become this totem, this sculpture – possibly an object you might even worship."
Object of veneration or not, Tornado Nude embodies the preoccupations for which Banner is best known: sex, nudity and war. She has, variously, created a catalogue of every fighter plane currently in use by the British military; published a 1,000-page book containing frame-by-frame descriptions of Vietnam war movies (she calls these "wordscapes" or "still films"); and written a "striptease in words" of the actor Samantha Morton's naked body. In 2002, Banner was nominated for the Turner prize. Her exhibition for the nominees' show included Arsewoman in Wonderland, a no-holds-barred description in words of a porn film of the same name, screenprinted in pink ink on a white billboard and duly displayed at Tate Britain. There was a predictable flurry of outrage; the then culture minister Kim Howells, commenting on the exhibition as a whole, scrawled "conceptual bullshit" across a Tate comment card and pinned it to the visitors' wall.
Undeterred, Banner is returning to Tate Britain next week, where she will unveil a new work commissioned for the museum's two central neoclassical Duveen galleries. Previous artists who have stepped up to this challenge include Martin Creed, who in 2008 sent a series of runners sprinting through the crowds at 30-second intervals; and Anya Gallaccio, who in 2002 filled one gallery with oak trees, and the other with a carpet of sugar. Banner is not allowed to tell me what she'll be doing – all will be revealed next Monday – and can only point to her official statement, that she is looking forward to "working with the phallic pillars of this extraordinary grandiose space". But she can tell me what she won't be doing, which is "exhibit[ing] an entire Westland Lynx helicopter that saw service in the Falkands war", as her Wikipedia entry erroneously had it (it has since been corrected). "That's so weird!" she says in a stage whisper, blue eyes widening. "That's not my plan – though I did recently try to buy a Westland Lynx helicopter. But I bought a Tornado instead."
In person, Banner is not at all what you might expect of a sometime porn consumer, war-film aficionado and collector of military aircraft: dressed all in blue – blue shirt, blue jeans, blue jacket – she is wiry and casually elegant, with a direct, easy charm. Her work, too, is quieter, more delicate, intimate and many-layered, than its headline-grabbing subject matter might suggest.
On the ground floor of her studio, Banner shows me All the World's Fighter Planes, a work that was 10 years in the making, and which she completed last year. It's a glass case filled with pictures of aircraft cut haphazardly from newspapers, each one meticulously labelled like an animal specimen: Hawk, Harrier, Bear, Chinook. "I started making this years ago," she says. "I'd been cutting out pictures of fighter planes from newspapers for a while, and realised I'd started a collection. I became strangely excited by the idea that they all had these names from nature. On one level I find these planes incredibly beautiful, but on another level I'm horrified by them."
The ungainly Chinook (in nature, either a kind of wind or a Native American people) is a particular favourite. Banner has spent the last few months at airshows at RAF Odiham in Hampshire, filming pilots perform an unlikely "Chinook ballet" for a new work. "The Chinook is really bizarre," she says. "It's so inelegant, it looks like it shouldn't be able to fly. In the ballet, they've given the Chinooks certain movements – a turn, a sidestep, a double-twist. It's the most extraordinary thing."
From Rilke to Top Gun
Banner's fascination with aircraft may, she says, springs from the long walks she took as a child in the Welsh countryside with her father (she was born in Merseyside in 1966, later moving to London to study at Kingston University and Goldsmiths). "It was completely sublime and pastoral and beautiful," she says. "And then something like a Tornado would come out of nowhere, and the sound would be absolutely phenomenal. We'd be completely astounded, but somehow the beauty of the moment would surpass even the loveliness of where we were and what we were doing."
For one new work, called Tornado, Banner is taking this interest in aircraft even further: she is smelting down her newly acquired Tornado plane into aluminium ingots, and turning those into a huge bell that she plans to display later this summer, in Newcastle. She shows me her carefully shaded drawings for the bell, pinned to a wall. "From the outside," she says, "a bell is a clear object of communication. But in this case, coming from an aeroplane, it has quite a complex DNA."
Banner says that her work progresses more by accident than by design, although she clearly works hard, spending long days alone in her studio with her dog, Olive (a mongrel or "Hackney orgy dog" who recently took a tumble through the hole in the floorboards around Tornado Nude). She never made a conscious decision to be an artist; as a teenager, she read Robert Lowell, Emily Dickinson and Rilke, and dreamed of being a poet or a novelist. At art college, her fascination with words resurfaced, and she found herself writing the first of her wordscape descriptions, of the film Top Gun. "I struggled away with making pictures for years and years," Banner says, "and I found it incredibly complicated. The writing just started to come to the fore as a way through it." She remains obsessed with books – she had her own ISBN code tattooed on to her lower back last year, and runs a publishing imprint, Vanity Press – but her interest is more formal than literary. "I'm as interested in the object of a book as much as the content," she says.
Banner's preoccupation with traditionally masculine subject matter – war films, flying machines, the female nude – raises an obvious question: does she consider herself a feminist? "No," she replies, quickly and emphatically. "No. It's not that I'm radically unfeminist or anything" – she gives an awkward laugh – "it's because I think feminism belonged to a particular point and time. And I can't afford to be part of any 'ism' as an artist. That sounds lofty and possibly a bit pompous, but I just don't impose my political agenda on my work. I'm incredibly lucky to be at this point in history, where female artists are given space and visibility."
What about when that visibility leads to controversy, as happened with Arsewoman in Wonderland? Banner rolls her eyes. "That was one piece! And they're still calling me 'the porn artist'! I just think that sort of kneejerk, oo-er missus reaction is not helpful, really. Because art is layered and complex and requires reflection. And because I never set out to be controversial. On the whole, I actually make very quiet work."
She says she is not afraid of failure; in fact it is something she expects, even embraces. "I find art incredibly difficult," she says. "Most of the things that happen in here, in this studio, they're an investigation. An experiment. I'm with [Samuel] Beckett: 'Fail again. Fail better.'" And when success, in the form of a high-profile commission such as the Duveens, comes her way – what does that mean? She hesitates. "I want to say that it doesn't mean anything. It depends on whether what you do with it will still mean something to you in years to come. And whether it will still mean something to the people that come and see it."
Describing the naked human form is a way of describing ourselves, an attempt to seize what we can't hold
'It's dead serious, but tongue-in-cheek as well' ... Fiona Banner with life model. Photograph: Fiona Banner
I don't see myself as working in the grand history of the nude in art: my work isn't at all similar to Lucian Freud's, for example. But the complexity that surrounds the nude - the questions about gender that define the history of the nude, and for that matter the history of description per se - are a motivation.
I got involved in looking at and describing the human form through watching war films. It occurred to me, after a while, that their images were pornographic in nature - both alluring, seductive and repulsive. That got me into looking at porn films. I began to think that they were like life drawings, only with all the rules broken. They have very limited narrative: often no script, virtually no dialogue, just the hovering gaze. I described these films moment by moment, in my own words, and made very big pictures from them. They take something very private and domestic, and make it heroic. After that, I worked with a striptease artist. She came to my studio and undressed, and I began describing her act verbally. It became a kind of striptease in words.
I generally never use life models - I usually work with people I know. We need a good rapport, especially for the performances I do, in which I stage a bare classical studio set-up with an easel, but then describe the nude model in front of a live audience. It's a bit of theatre. It's dead serious, but tongue-in-cheek as well. The performances are really taut, tense but oddly funny, for the audience as well as for me and the model.
Homus Erectus 2006 by Fiona Banner. Photograph: Fiona Banner
The artwork itself has become vulnerable, because the mechanisms around it have been stripped back, exposed. The performances expose these layers of voyeurism - my voyeurism looking at the model, and the audience's voyeurism looking at me making the art, and looking at the model. But then the very way we look at all art, the way we treat artworks, the way we present them, is itself erotic. There is always that voyeuristic distance and rarification. Nudity is oddly taboo, even though, or perhaps because, we come into the world naked, and it's how we leave.
The first time you walk into a life-drawing class as a student, there's a frisson of excitement about how to formalise a moment that would normally be very intimate and very erotic. So what happens on paper in that class - the drawing or painting of the nude model - becomes an erotic act. It can also be brutal. In terms of a narrative structure, the nude is both protagonist and reader, or the subject and viewer in one. There's no narrative embellishment, just the bare standing figure; no before or after.
We always come back to the issue of describing the human form. It's a way of describing ourselves - an attempt to stall time long enough to make some kind of reflection, not of the stuff around, but of us, the flesh. Every life drawing, good or bad, is like a gravestone, an attempt to make permanent that which is always passing, an attempt to seize what we can't hold.
Interview with Fiona Banner Joao Ribas
Published: March 28, 2006
British artist Fiona Banner explores the limits and possibilities of language in text-based drawings, sculptures and installations. Best known for her laborious, handwritten descriptions of war films and epics such as Lawrence of Arabia, Banner has also used the art-historical genre of the nude to explore issues of violence, vulnerability and voyeurism; and has used sculptures of punctuation to investigate breakdowns and gaps in communication.
For her current solo show at New York's Tracy Williams Ltd., on view through April 22, Banner is showing a new series of nudes: text-based descriptions of the female form, made from live models and written on the tail-fins of fighter planes.
A related installation, Parade, will also be on view at 462 Greenwich St., further focusing on her fascination with the "aesthetics of destruction." Described as an "unedited war-scape," Parade collects Banner's hand-made examples of every fighter jet currently in commission somewhere in the world, with more than 100 models suspended from the ceiling. Parade is on view through March 31.
Banner has exhibited worldwide and is represented in various collections, including that of the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Tate Gallery in London; and the Walker Art Gallery in Minneapolis. She was short-listed for the Turner Prize in 2003.
What draws you to working so intensely with language, as in your 'still-films'-these blow-by-blow descriptions of war movies such as The Nam, a 1,000-page book describing films such as Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter?
With all of the subjects I work with, there is this fascination with the image-I was fascinated by those 'Nam films, and really seduced by them. But I was also really repulsed by them. I thought, "Am I repulsed by the film, or am I repulsed by the way I was involved in the film, the way I became fascinated by it?"
Using language is a way of stepping back from that, and stepping back from how the image works on us, yet at the same time still having the image there. It's a way of being able to work with images without drowning in the deeply complex currency of those images. Hopefully, what's gained in the process is an original moment of looking at something, or being able to look at something in a different way by side-stepping the image.
How did the "still-films" begin?
Originally, I was making lots of images of fighter planes, using the film Top Gun as a reference for all of these things you don't really see in normal life. But I started to find it incredibly hard to draw a frame around the objects, deciding what should be in the frame and what should be out of it. That led to the desire to make this all-encompassing image, this image that negates the need for me to make such decisions. That's why I describe those films, rather pompously, as being completely unedited texts-and being very much about the pornography of those films.
Why do you choose to work with particularly violent or pornographic films?
Why are so many people seduced by images of war, even though we hate war? Or do we? It's those complex [questions] that I am fascinated by, in myself and in other people. Questions like "Why do we love these great, epic, violent, pornographic, killing films? Why are they our entertainment?" The pastoral-I don't find so complex, so I don't need to try to work that out. But the nude and the violence of how the nude as portrayed in the history of art for example-that I'm really fascinated by.
Let's talk about your nudes. They work in this hyper-intimate way, in describing someone's body in language, in a genre typically associated with the gaze of male painters...
Using words as opposed to line and color is a way of being able, on my own personal turf, to reinvent the nude. The writing is a sleight of hand, it's a way to sneak around the side and look at something that I'm fascinated by.
Do you work from a live model?
I more often than not work from a model, often the same model as it happens, and I work in the way that I might have done when I was in my first year in art college. You know she'll get her kit off, and I'll get out a bit of paper, and we'll have a good go. And it'll be frustrating at times, but [in using language] I'm not thwarted by the clumsiness of working with materials-I personally have much more dexterity with language. It's natural to me.
But it must be an intrusive experience for the model?
It is for both of us, really. I suppose [the nudes] are all self-portraits anyway, in some sense. But somebody getting naked in front of you is as much a responsibility for the person who is being a voyeur as it is for the person who is supplying the subject. It does set up a tense and interesting scenario.
Your new nudes are on these almost anatomical parts of fighter jets. They seem to merge that voyeurism of the nudes with your fascination with war imagery.
The layers of voyeurism in the nude are echoed in the way we look at war and deal with images of war. When I first started making those pieces, I wanted to get hold of some of these [fighter jet tailfins] just because I wanted to see what it was like to have them. It took me an awful long time to be able to get hold of any of these objects, because, importantly for me, they still have a currency.
I ended up having to accrue a little dossier of letters from the Ministry of Defense saying, "I know she looks like a terrorist, but..." Penetrating this incredibly male military world was also quite weird. I hadn't anticipated that there would be this very strange reaction to some bird coming in and going, "How much?"
I suppose there's something [in the nudes on the tail-fins of Harrier Jets] about the vulnerability and fragility that one feels up against this kind of military gear and how it operates in the world. It's the ultimate hardness-in absolute contradiction to our ultimate softness. I'm also very interested in that idea of this military hardware being the new nature. For example, take the nicknames [for the jets], which I've been collecting alongside the images of them: They refer to all-powerful nature: Cheetahs, tornados, etc. And of course, these things are often called birds in movies.
That brings us back to the films: You deliberately pick films that are almost impossible to capture in words, because they're so expansive in their scope...
Lawrence of Arabia is a film that defines the notion of epic, spatially and historically. I was interested in the idea of being able to contain that kind of epic notion, to make language wrap around that and somehow stretch towards it. It's the same thing that really fascinates me about painting: the heroic frame. The fact that [a painting] can contain all this [visual information] that the eye cannot see all at once. There's this slightly absurd and wry reference to that in my work.
Even just the extent of the writing, the fact of tracing the duration of time, has this defunct heroism to it. With the still-films, there was an attempt to describe this entire event or this entire image, whereas my newer work is more "live," if you like, because the descriptions are more unmediated.
I'm also equally fascinated by what language can and can't do. A lot of my work is about how we communicate and how we don't. Of all of my work, the full-stop series [life-size sculptures based on periods from different font types] is most overtly and absurdly about a breakdown in language, which most of us experience at various times.
When I started making those sculptures, I was experiencing a complete disenfranchisement from the way I make work. My thought was how I could make something to represent this dumbness-dumbness in terms of stupidity, but also in the inability to communicate, and this gap of how to proceed from that.
The full-stop sculptures are sort of the reverse of your films. They turn text into an object, rather than the other way around...
They're like the text work turned inside out. I started by making drawings of full-stops, which I though of as completely edited texts-these sort of black voids. But I realized that all these full-stops are different forms. It was interesting how this void that is just about a pause [on a page] actually has a whole character.
So I worked directly from various fonts and was very rigorous about them and made three-dimensional versions of these two-dimensional tiny things. Something inconspicuous became an object you had to negotiate in space. We become like the characters in the narrative of these things; they are literally punctuation that we move around-which is obviously a reference to sculpture and how it operates, but in a very simple, stripped back way.
Tell me about the models of all the world's fighter planes in Parade?
That started with a collection of images from newspapers of the fighter planes of the world for my studio reference. It was important that they were collected from the real world-from how these images come into my own personal world through newspapers. From that I ended up making a focused collection of one of every single type of fighter plane currently in commission around the world. Parade I see very much as like the big description I made of Apocalypse Now, this massive handwritten text, in that it's a completely unedited war-scape.
There's a certain ludicrousness to the way I've become completely involved in what it takes to make those models. And of course in making them I'm referring to the millions of little boys every year who do the same thing. There's this getting into the psychology of people who get seduced by that-and I suppose ultimately it's about the aesthetics of destruction.