Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) presents Wp Wp Wp, an exhibition by UK artist Fiona Banner from 20 September 2014, featuring ambitious new project, Chinook. The installation, accompanied by related work, is described by the artist as the culmination of a body of work started nearly two decades ago. Wp Wp Wp, the onomatopoeic name of the exhibition, is inspired by the sound of helicopters as portrayed in comic books and film storyboards.
Highlighting the absence of a helicopter’s body, Chinook, is formed from two sets of helicopter blades – suspended from the ceiling of YSP’s 480m2 Longside Gallery – rotating in opposition to one another. Hovering just above visitors’ heads as if the building were preparing for lift off, the blades are carefully choreographed and overlap giving the sensation that they might collide. Its impact is both mesmerising and unnerving.
As Banner explains: “the Chinook helicopter is an engineering phenomenon. It is visually a contradiction; it looks clumsy and prehistoric, and yet is able to perform the most extraordinary aerodynamic function. When in motion the rotor blades at the front and back of the aircraft appear to collide and pull the vast craft in opposite directions. To me, this somehow parodies the dilemma and contradiction at the heart of our relationship with the military and its hardware.”
Chinook has been developed with the support of Dr Osvaldo Querin, Associate Professor at The University of Leeds School of Mechanical Engineering, who with colleagues and a group of masters students, worked with Banner to carry out aeronautical research critical to the project.
Related works reveal Banner’s consideration of film, text and the mythologies of conflict. These include site-specific work spanning the huge windows of the gallery that gives an unreal sense of the landscape beyond, as well as Mirror, Banner’s 2007 film in which actress Samantha Morton reads the artist’s nude portrait of her, rendered in word not image; and All the World’s Fighter Planes, 2005/6, a film that animates newspaper clippings of all of the aircraft in commission around the world at that time, set to a score of music taken from classic war films.
A YSP publication, designed by the artist with text by Chrissie Isles, Curator at the Whitney Museum of Art, New York, accompanies the exhibition.
The exhibition is supported by Outset, The Henry Moore Foundation, Frith Street Gallery and University of Leeds.