October 30th 2020, Phytology, Bethnal Green Nature Reserve
Fiona Banner has hand painted the Phytology billboard in stages over the summer, week by week adding in new letters and words to form the phrase ‘The Retrospective Has Been Cancelled’. The letters were not painted sequentially, with Banner instead forming short concrete poems from the letters available: “A Bee”; “The Has Been”; The Rose Has Been Led”.
The phrase The Retrospective Has Been Cancelled addresses the hubris associated with grand ‘retrospective’ exhibition making in traditional galleries and museums. The fallacy of ‘looking back’ with objectivity, the mythologizing of history that is the consequence. It’s a call to re-imagine the future of exhibitions and public art in the post-covid landscape and ongoing climate crisis where outdoor spaces such as this nature reserve become ever more important.
Over the duration of the billboard commission Banner has also been making a series of artwork interventions inside the nature reserve, exploring what art making can be outside of the gallery space; not just depicting nature, but in tune with nature, accessible to the human visitors but also the foxes, the cats, the worms that call the reserve their home.