All the World's Fighter Planes, 2004

Installation view: Arsenal, Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin, 2004 © Courtesy of the artist / Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin, 2004

Wall drawing
Overall dimensions variable

Growing up, British artist Fiona Banner would take long meandering walks in the Welsh countryside with her father; there, the idyllic setting was occasionally punctuated without warning by the flight of a passing fighter plane. Thus began Banner’s fascination with the vehicles of war.

All the World's Fighter Planes investigates the possibilities and limitations of imagery, representing a departure from previous text-based approaches. Here, the “wordscapes” often seen in her other works are conspicuous in their absence, leaving the viewer to question the artist’s agency: the aircrafts deftly sketched on the walls are not based on pristine images taken from a glossy aircraft encyclopedias. Rather, the source images are of warplanes in action, found and clipped from newspapers.

Presented without context, they are neither sentimentalized, romanticized, nor politicized. With naturalistic names, including Tornado, Mega Hornet, Harrier, Sea Stallion, or Cobra, the act of spotting them here or “in the wild,” is intertwined with a sense fetishistic attraction: are these sleek aesthetic objects of beauty or the machinery of war? –  Alicia Reuter

*1966 in Liverpool, United Kingdom | Living and working in London, United Kingdom