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During a sneak preview yesterday, I was completely blown-away as two full-scale decommissioned fighter jets filled the space in front of me.
As you enter the Tate, you cannot escape the incredible sight of a Sea Harrier jet suspended from the ceiling. The nose is positioned inches from the floor, with the wings filling the upper spaces of the gallery. Banner has painted feathers on the wings to mimic the plane’s name, and it looks like a bird strung-up by its feet, ready to be plucked.
In the North Duveens gallery a Sepecat Jaguar plane lays almost helplessly on its back, gleaming with a mirror-like finish.
Banner said: “This work is about how you react rather than a big black and white statement. For instance, that the Jaguar is polished is incredibly important because you see yourself reflected in it. You can’t detach yourself from the object. Though in some ways it’s a radical object, it’s also always a fragmented object because it’s constantly being animated by the space and whoever’s looking at it.”
Banner admits to being “seduced” by fighter planes and she has often studied these objects in her work – from drawings to Airfix models. She also produced a sculptural piece from the tail fin of a Harrier Jump Jet ten years ago. She said she was fascinated by “how something that was such a monster could be so beautiful”.
See Fiona Banner’s Duveens Commission at the Tate Britain. Until 3 Jan.