Fiona Banner’s work for Tate Britain’s 2010 Duveens Commission plays on situation and scale – neo-classical gallery space strikingly juxtaposed with two decommissioned fighter jets.
Harrier is streamlined avian form playing martyr to deadly function – a trussed trophy reworked with hand painted feather markings mimicking its namesake; Jaguar lies upturned on the floor like a toy cast aside by its young owner – a polished mirror surface tying the audience to their own reactions.
Banner’s choice of subject matter shows a clear lineage with earlier works, sharing their topicality in questioning our attitudes toward war. But that much is obvious. Requiring little imagination from its audience, such subtle conceits in her treatment of these carcasses do little to divert the viewer’s attentions away from their shear presence, and it is within this context where she succeeds.
Perhaps they have more in common with those iconic works by Koons or Hirst; derided by many but lauded by the art market. And there lies the rub – the incongruity of setting is integral to them being definable as ‘art’ – remove them from the space, as they inevitably will be, and their worth might just, well, fly away. A brutal yet seductive spectacle well worth seeing.
Guest blogger Nicholas Smith
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