“A Sea Harrier jet used by the navy over Bosnia and an RAF Jaguar that saw active service during Desert Storm were today unveiled as the incongruous new art exhibits at Tate Britain‘s grand neo-classical Duveen sculpture galleries.
The planes were installed by the artist Fiona Banner as part of the annual Duveens commission. One plane, the Harrier, hangs from the ceiling like a trussed bird while the other is displayed belly up on the floor like a wounded animal.
The exhibits are Banner’s largest work yet and part of her continuing fascination with war and jets. “I’ve slowly arrived at these sculptures,” she said today , admitting that she was “seduced” by fighter planes. “Years and years ago I remember going for a walk with my dad in the Welsh hills. I must have been seven or eight and it was so quiet and beautiful and suddenly, out of nowhere came this Harrier jump jet which completely ripped up the sky. It was a completely transformative moment but we were left, literally with words knocked out of us, wondering how something that was such a monster could be so beautiful.”
Banner said she was not trying to make some easily digestible point, nor was it an anti-war work. “This work is more about how people react to it, rather than a big black and white statement.
“We all hate war but these objects inspire a strange enthusiasm in us. When you reflect on their beauty it’s a strange thing, people say surely they are designed with an aesthetic in mind and, of course, they’re not. They are absolutely designed to function and that function is to kill, and that says something questionable about our aesthetic judgement and makes us ask questions about our moral position.”