An exhibition at the gymnasium of Patronato Salesiano,
a children’s basketball court set within a converted church
Patronato Salesiano Leone X111 Calle S. Domenico, 1285 Castello, 30122 Venice
19 April – 22 May 2022
Tuesday – Sunday 11am–7pm
The title of this exhibition combines the word ‘Pranayama’ – an ancient breathing technique with the word ‘Typhoon’– an overwhelming and increasingly frequent natural phenomenon and the name of a state-of-the-art fighter plane. Pranayama Typhoon is held in a basketball court within the converted church, at Patronato Salesiano.
The film Pranayama Organ (2021) features two full-scale inflatable military decoy aircrafts, a Typhoon and a Falcon. Stuck in a combative bind they play out an unrequited desire for intimacy not conflict: they dream a dream of emasculating the tools of conflict but in doing so come face to face with their own demise. The location of the film is a coastal area between a submerged petrified forest and an eroding cliff face, overlooking the channel that separates the UK from mainland Europe – the characters are lost in deep time and universal conflict. At dawn the two aircraft slowly inflate on the beach, coming to life like two long- slumbering creatures. Then, on a wind-blown precipice two figures, one of which is the artist, appear dressed as Falcon and Typhoon. Birdlike, human and automaton, they dance around each other in an absurd ritual of courtship and combat. The Organ in the film’s title refers both to the massive wind instrument, and the corporeal body. The soundtrack was recorded by Banner and friends in an East London church during the 2021 lockdown, it echoes the overblown posturing of the film’s protagonists.
It is both fragile and heroic, defined by a bathetic church organ that references the iconic song Wild is the Wind. The organ’s grandiose tones and the sound of breathing fill the basketball court underscoring the tension of the work. The film, music and setting of the exhibition combine to create a space of contending ideas – grandiosity, vulnerability, bathos, brutality and nature.
Capitalist, Capitalist, Capitalist (ellipsis), 2022 is from a series of found seascape paintings. Banner has painted-out the original subjects, seafaring vessels, battleships and destroyers, replacing them instead with black, oil-painted full stops. Though Banner is known for her text based works she has returned to this abstract form of language intermittently over the years, so these full stop works actually punctuate her studio practice. To begin with these anti-texts were a way of exploring a crisis in her own language, here they are deployed to investigate a wider crisis of language and communication; language adrift, on the precipice... Some paintings about the gulf COMMA between words PERIOD and action PERIOD Some paintings that know that the sea is the bottom line COMMA that understand that turning a page is reminiscent of a wave and that a chapter is the tide PERIOD Some paintings that are a channel HYPHEN all paintings are a channel PERIOD Some paintings that understand that the channel is not only a conduit but also a barrier ELLIPSIS
Runway, 2021 is from a series for Korean Vogue, September 2021, when Banner was exhibiting in Seoul. She uses the format of the magazine as a droll post consurmerist performance space, using inflatable aircraft as standins for costume and prop; referencing the runway both as a theatrical fashion space and a launch pad for aircraft. In collaboration with the photographer Emma Summerton.
Dear Bathos, Love _____________, 2022, a film on a monitor shows an ISBN number – the International Standard Book Number used to identify publications – on a hymn board as the sun moves across it. Instead of indexing a hymn it references a feeling, or condition. The film is in and of itself a publication, it has been published under the title Dear Bathos, Love ___________.
Prananyama Typhoon has been enabled through a partnership between Barakat Contemporary, Seoul, Frith Street Gallery, London, Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin and 1301PE, Los Angeles.
Pranayama Organ film credits: Director: Fiona Banner aka The Vanity Press. Producer: Alice Walters. Producer/Camera: Babak Goodarzi. Drone/Camera: Voytek Ketz Production Assistant and performer:
Kirsty Harris. Post Production Assistant: Joseph Sakoilsky. Editor: Tobias Zaldua Soundtrack: Annabelle Boissonnet,
Crispin Davis, Raphael White, Tobias Zaldua
Pranayama Typhoon project credits:
Project Management, Venice: DH Office. Project Management, London: Alice Walters, Project Strategy: Clare Cumberlidge & Co
With thanks to: Fatos Ustek,
Mariapia Bellis, Giovanni Bergamo,
Mattia Biadene, Brian Butler, Craig Burnett, Romane Courdacher, Clare Cumberlidge, Filippo Gorghetto, Kirsty Harris, Jane Hamlyn, David Hrankovic, Carlotta Jacoby, Ali McGilp, Fraser Muggeridge, Vita Rossi, Jane Rushton, Marco Scurati, Patronato Salesiano,
Kasia Sobucka, Barbara Thumm, Camilla Violo, Alice Walters, Tobias Zaldua
Special thanks to: Geoff Ainsworth & Johanna Featherstone, Jill & Peter Krauss, Christine Nichols, Marta Nowicka
Barakat Contemporary, Seoul Frith Street Gallery, London Galerie Barbara Thumm, Berlin 1301PE, Los Angeles
Patronato Salesiano XIII is a community centre, social enterprise and the only youth centre
in Venice open to kids everyday. Pranayama Typhoon actively supports the egalitarian ethos of the centre.
There is a publication to accompany the exhibition featuring The Woods Decay, The Woods Decoy and Fall A Noh Play in Three Acts (2021), a collaborative and performative text, by the Tom McCarthy as T (Typhoon) and Banner as F (Falcon) and Pranayama Organ: Eight Thoughts (2022), a text by Joanna Pocock.
Pranayama Organ (2021) was filmed on the beach at Pett Level on the south coast of England where Banner has a studio. In recent years record numbers of refugees have crossed the English Channel in small boats, some arriving onto this beach. Wild is the Wind was originally written by Dimitri Tiomkin 1957 and performed by Johnny Mathis for the film of the same name. Pranayama Organ was first exhibited at Barakat Gallery, Seoul during the city’s lockdown.
Fiona Banner aka The Vanity Press lives and works in the UK. Her work explores gender, conflict, language and publishing through
a range of mediums, including drawing, sculpture, performance and the moving image. The struggle between language and its limitations is central to Banner’s work. She established The Vanity Press in 1997, with her book The Nam. Since then, she has published many works, some in the form of books, some sculptural, some performance based. In 2009 she issued herself an ISBN number and registered herself as a publication under her own name.
List of Works
Pranayama Organ, 2021
High definition digital film
Capitalist, Capitalist, Capitalist, (ellipsis), 2022
Oil on found painting, frame
50 × 57.5cm
Dear Bathos, Love _____________, 2022
High definition digital film
Soft Parts: Wing, Flap, Fin, 2022
Verses Versus, 2022
Diptych, each 300 × 112 cm
Modelled by Evangeline Ling
Photographed by Emma Summerton
28.6 × 22.8 cm each