Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Fiona Banner | Heart of Darkness

Fiona Banner
Heart of Darkness
London, UK: Four Corner Books/Vanity Press, 2015
320 pp., 24.5 x 32.5 cm., glossy magazine
Edition size unknown

Fiona Banner's first artist's book, THE NAM (below), is a 1000-page epic that recounts (simultaneously) the action in several Vietnam films: Full Metal Jacket, The Deer Hunter, Apocalypse Now!, Born on the Fourth of July, Hamburger Hill and Platoon. Famously described as "unreadable", the title can be thought of as a novelization of an 11-hour supercut.

Banner returns to similar subject matter with a retelling of Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad's 1899 novella about a voyage up the Congo River. The book was the source material for Francis Ford Coppola's epic film Apocalypse Now! (1979). Coppola transposed the horror's of King Leopold's colonialism to the Vietnam War (or 'Resistance War Against America', as it's known in Vietnam).

Heart of Darkness was originally published as a three-part serial story in Blackwood's Magazine. For this new version, Banner returns the content to the format, but reimagines it as a luxury glossy magazine.

The project began in 2012, when Banner was invited to select an exhibition of works drawn from the Archive of Modern Conflict, a London-based collection of war photographs and ephemera. The artist commissioned Paolo Pellegrin, a conflict photographer who has worked extensively in the Congo, to observe the City of London through the lens of Conrad’s book. These photographs were first exhibited in London under the title Mistah Kurtz – He Not Dead, also the title of 2014 film by Banner.

They also form the illustrations for this new publication of Conrad’s novella, co-published by Four Corner Books and Banner's own imprint Vanity Press.

Banner will be signing copies next week at the LA Art Book Fair, at the Printed Matter booth (C01). The event takes place at 8pm on February 11th, 2016. Preceding the signing, Fiona Banner will hold a Classroom event during which she will screen Mistah Kurtz – He Not Dead, and another short film called Phantom (2015).

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