Libby Leshgold Gallery
27 June - 25 August 2019
The Libby Leshgold Gallery and READ Books are pleased to present Fiona Banner aka The Vanity Press.
Fiona Banner’s alias “The Vanity Press” stems from The Vanity Press, an imprint she established in 1997 with the publication of her artist book The Nam. Since then her work with publishing—straightforward as well as experimental and performative publishing—has become the mainstay of her practice, and is highly influential in the field of artists’ publishing.
This exhibition focuses on Banner’s Heart of Darkness, published in 2015 by The Vanity Press in collaboration with Four Corners Press. Banner’s remake of Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella takes the form of a glossy luxury magazine. It began to take shape when she accepted an invitation by the Archive of Modern Conflict to conduct research in the archive. Noting a lack of contemporary images, Banner commissioned Magnum photographer Paolo Pellegrin, who is well known for covering global conflicts, including in the Democratic Republic of Congo where Conrad’s narrator Marlow sets his story, to turn his lens on the financial district of London. These images form the illustrations that accompany the text. Alongside the publication itself, the exhibition includes related work such as Breathing Bag (2016), a small kinetic sculpture made up of a plastic bag printed with a misquote from the novella that reads “Mistah Kurtz—He Not Dead” and the film Phantom (2015) in which a drone Phantom camera attempts to read Heart of Darkness as the down draft from its blades continually blows the magazine out of reach, eventually destroying it.
Further, the exhibition reflects on earlier works such as The Namand Trance (1997), including Banner’s verbal remake of Apocalypse Now, which in turn translates Francis Ford Coppola’s redeployment of Conrad’s narrative framework from Heart of Darkness. Other works on display include a selection of Full Stop Inflatables (2018) and Full Stop Bean Bags (2015), which take the form of massive 3D period marks from various fonts. Also featured are the artists’ books Scroll Down and Keep Scrolling (2015), Font Book (2016), and select artworks related to them.
Fiona Banner aka The Vanity Press is an English artist, who lives and works in London. In 2002 she was shortlisted for the Turner Prize and in 2010, she was selected to create the 10th Duveen Hall commission at Tate Britain. Other recent exhibitions include: Runway AW17, De Pont Museum, Tilburg, Netherlands (2017), Buoys Boys, De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill, UK (2016), Scroll Down And Keep Scrolling, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham, UK (2015) and Kunsthalle Nuremberg, Germany (2016), Wp Wp Wp, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield (2014).