At the De La Warr Pavilion: Fiona Banner – Buoys Boys

Found image, courtesy Archive of Modern Conflict, London (from the De La Warr Pavilion website)
Found image, courtesy Archive of Modern Conflict, London (from the De La Warr Pavilion website)

An immersive installation exploring language and its limitations might not be everybody’s cup of tea and there will definitely be some people who leave the lower gallery of the De La Warr Pavilion with furrowed, or even angry, brows but, overall this latest intriguing show in Bexhill won me over.  Not least because I’m a sucker both for stop-motion seagulls looking angry and for the use of “Snoopy versus the Red Baron” in modern art.

Really this is the kind of show that annoys people and it’s one that’s making no welcoming overtures. Brilliant. Ride with it. See where it takes you.

There’s a wall full of letters and pictures – they seem random but they hang together. Sort of. Then there’s an exchange of letters from the copyright deposit library because Bannen physically published herself (that is, if I’m reading it right, her body) and got an ISBN. She then replies, with a straight face, that the inquiry has made her consider how much she, or anything, can be said to be, and how she will try and deposit herself for posterity. Next to the reply the numbers of the ISBN glow in neon.  Then there are repeated variations of the title ‘Snoopy and the Red Baron’. They remind me so much of the boards that used to announce which psalms would be recited in church. Peanuts and the signs of Christianity – that’s Proust’s madeline for me right there.

There’s other stuff too. To describe it is to diminish it. There is sound. There is movement. There are balloons. This is immersive stuff. I enjoyed it all without ever being truly convinced by it.  But then, cynic that I am, that is often the case.

If I’ve chance I’ll go back to have another enjoyable but unconvincing time.  Sometimes you don’t have to need an explanation for everything.


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