Fiona Banner – Fighter Planes


At the book launch at Cubitt Gallery in April, Banner stated that her new book was ‘all about nature’. This can be taken literally: the bird-watcher and plane-spotter (and their manuals, and their banal-listings of observations) are no doubt closely related. The names of the planes, too provide a lexicon of nature, adopting the names of birds and animals – albatross, hornet, hind, cayuse, eagle, cougar, lion cub, cheetah, aardvark, nighthawk, badger, foxbat, pelican, tiger, stallion, panther, osprey, puma, warthog, and bear – as well as climatic phenomena such as the tornado and chinook; strangely there are no rabbits, ducks and hens, and no mist and no drizzle. Even their series numbers perhaps reflect some genus and species numbering in some evolutionary classification. But it would be making a cheap point (if still valid) to suggest that the military-industrial complex has hijacked bird and animal names to make the arms industry natural.

But nature itself is under interrogation. It could be seen as a man-made construct just as technological (and minatory) as the arms industry. The landscape over which the harrier, bird or plane, hovers bears the scars of the influence of man, the plough, the game park or sheep farm. And the farm itself is full of machines for milking, ploughing or harvesting; field, drainage course and river are polluted by chemical pesticides, fertilisers and farm waste, and farm payments and set-aside subsidies are determined by satellite photography in a regime of surveillance.
This is not the sentimentalised and anthropomorphised nature of Toad, Ratty and Mole. Nature can be red in tooth and claw. Life can be Hobbesian – nasty, brutish and short. The harrier takes the rabbit, and the Canada goose kills the duck. This is where survival of the fittest rules. The military-industrial complex would propose that without the fittest armaments civilisation, whatever that is within this context, would not survival.”

Quoted from words from Banner’s website:


Fiona Banner, Parade, 2006

Banner’s installation ‘Parade’ at the Gallerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin in 2004 included 171 Airfix fighter planes and a life size tail fin and windscreen of a Harrier, and this book clearly relates to that project. But her other obsession has been with pornography: it is tempting to read on to All The World’s Fighter Planes an equation of the male-dominated high-tech world of military aircraft, it’s codes of display and its vocabulary of penetration and saturation and competition in size and potency, with that of the centrefold of the pornographic magazine world on the top shelf. Sadly this pornography is on the lower shelves in newsagents, in the wars and violence reported in our newspapers.

Quoted from words from Banner’s website:


A short introduction about Fiona Banner:

Words are the medium Fiona Banner starts out with. She investigates the possibilities and limitations of language, words and pictures in script drawings, sculptures and installations. She has been pursuing the subject of fighter planes for some time and in various media, whether drawing up an A-Z glossary of all fighter planes in use world wide, publishing a book about them (with no text), or building and exhibiting small plastic model fighter planes as Parade 201.

It all began with collecting photos of the planes from newspapers. It was important to her that they should be pictures of ‘real’ world events, also so she could observe how these pictures took their place in ordinary life. How is war reported in newspapers? How is the fighting equipment represented? No-one ‘likes’ war, and yet there is so much undeniable fascination in the aesthetics of destruction.
(Text: Monika Holzer-Kernbichler)
*1966 Merseyside, UK

Source link:


…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.”

~Source from The Guardian interview

Other relative Source:


*Personal thought about her works:

Those aircraft remind us they were killing-machine, and even now some of they still working on military industry in real world. I believe that most of people don’t like war, and I also think that Banner’s central idea tried to remind the cruel of war by showing this collection of killing-machine picture, and it’s all real because she collected them from newspaper.

She also mentioned about the Hobbesian, which is talking about the power, greed and egoistic can push people to hold a war again, according to the text above said military industry think that people cannot survive without them, which also means the war will never stop just because ‘this is survival of fittest rule’,

Actually it’s a bit difficult to understand when I watching the fight plane video without any text or description,  it’s hard to know what is the central point? Maybe she try to give a notice about cruelty of war; or it’s just a plane collection when she found all the fighter plane have special animal’s name. From the guardian interview that It’s kine of paradox, she loves those planes but also feels horrible. love and fear can be on the same level?  I thinking about the reason of war, sometimes it’s for protecting the people you love so you decided to raise a war to your enemies.


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