Artist biography

English sculptor and conceptual artist. She studied at Kingston Polytechnic, Surrey (1986–9), and at Goldsmiths' College of Art in London (1992–3). She had her first solo exhibition at City Racing, London, in 1994, and in the following year was included in General Release: Young British Artists at the XLVI Venice Biennale. Banner came to prominence with her ‘wordscapes', large text works that recount the plots of feature films or other events. The ‘wordscapes' led to the publication in 1997 of The Nam, 1,000 pages of continuous text describing the Vietnam war movies Apocalypse Now, Born on the Fourth of July, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon, Hamburger Hill and The Deer Hunter. This unreadable text points to the excess of violence in such films, the numbing of critical faculties, as well as the mythologising and fictionalising framing devices used to interpret historical events. Towards the end of the 1990s she became interested in the implications of punctuation signs, dwelling on their qualities as abstract marks that give structure to text. By selecting a variety of fonts, enlarging the full stop signs to 1,800 pt, and rendering them three-dimensionally, Banner created strangely dramatic objects, simple signs disguised as Minimalist sculpture. These were displayed together in Polystyrene Full Stops: Slipstream, Nuptial, Palatino, Times, Gill Sans Condensed, New Century Schoolbook (1998–9; Los Angeles, CA, 1301PE). The use of weightless polystyrene, which commonly functions as a packing material, points again to the paradox of the physical insignificance and semantic importance of these object–signs.

Bibliography
Perfect Speed: Six British Artists (exh. cat., essays C. Roberts and J.-C. Royoux, Guelph, Ont., Macdonald Stewart A. Cent., 1995)
Spellbound (exh. cat., ed. P. Dodd with I. Christie, London, Hayward Gal., 1996)
Fiona Banner (exh. cat. by V. Button, London, Tate, 1998)
Babel: Contemporary Art and the Journeys of Communication (exh. cat., essays C. Doherty and C. Mac Giolla Léith, Birmingham, Ikon Gal., 1999)

JOHN-PAUL STONARD
10 December 2000

Bibliography
Perfect Speed: Six British Artists (exh. cat., essays C. Roberts and J.-C. Royoux, Guelph, Ont., Macdonald Stewart A. Cent., 1995)
Spellbound (exh. cat., ed. P. Dodd with I. Christie, London, Hayward Gal., 1996)
Fiona Banner (exh. cat. by V. Button, London, Tate, 1998)
Babel: Contemporary Art and the Journeys of Communication (exh. cat., essays C. Doherty and C. Mac Giolla Léith, Birmingham, Ikon Gal., 1999)

JOHN-PAUL STONARD
10 December 2000

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