A black and white image of a drawing of an alien object floats above a landscape of sheets hanging to dry
34 Ellison Street



3 February – 4 March 2006

For his first solo exhibition at Workplace Gallery Darren Banks presents 'Sci-Fi Looking Thing' a collection of new sculpture, installation, and video works. Combining found objects with a 'cut and paste' methodology Banks creates works that occupy an uneasy position between sophistication, humour, self-ridicule, and disappointment.

Banks draws parallels between the making of a sculpture and the construction of a film. 'I want to use video in the same way I would use a piece of string or an ironing board.' Creating neutrality between objects and materials Banks' working process takes the form of an ambiguous mass of ideas that envelops everything in its path, his method is to deconstruct, reassemble, and then make concrete. Banks is a sophisticated arranger of objects, but his work goes much further than this, carefully articulating a dialogue between the language and logic of sculpture, commodity culture, and the human condition. The humorous nostalgia of Banks work is deceptive. His formalist arrangements of salvaged thrift store discoveries could lead the viewer towards a superficial reading; about a gentle and homely domestic obsolescence that we may just about remember. To find deeper meaning in his work the viewer must look past the synthetic veneer of objects formally arranged against each other. The objects Banks naturally gravitates towards and selects represent endless handy labour saving devices that somehow never made much difference, left as the junk of progress. Banks' plastic archaeology reveals a petrification of promise and from this perspective his work isn't funny any more. It probes the subject of the human condition on its most basic and fundamental level. The comfortable familiarity of these objects disintegrates when you recognise their sameness. They become signifiers of perpetual aspiration, of our neurotic need to constantly look towards the promise of tomorrow …when everything will be ok.   Embedded in Banks' processes, and his mechanics of choice and production, are our projected dreams of hope and future and our pointless distractions from tedium and reality. His work reflects a constant clinging to the familiar and a futile attempt to plug the gap through which reality threatens to flood in. Banks plays with our expectations. In 'Palace Video' you are teased with an initial animation, a seemingly slick art world aesthetic that slowly reveals itself as the overlooked copyright warning of 80's VHS horror movies. Banks is interested in how his choice of material can play with both our basic feelings of anticipation and our complex value systems. In this way he is drawn to Bertrand Russell's Orbiting Teapot analogy: his suggestion that if the existence of a china teapot in orbit between the sun and earth had been affirmed in ancient books, taught as the sacred truth every Sunday, and instilled into the minds of children at school it would be accepted as readily as any of the worlds received dogmas. Only Banks is as interested in the teapot as much as the idea itself. Darren Banks lives and works in Newcastle upon Tyne and completed his MFA in Fine Art at Newcastle University in 2005.

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