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Anna Banana:

45 Years of Fooling Around with A. Banana

September 19, 2015 - September 19, 2015

By popular demand, we have extended this exhibition until January 10, 2016!

Curated by Michelle Jacques and Helen Marzolf (Director, Open Space Art Society) | Ker, Centennial and LAB Galleries | Organized by the AGGV in collaboration with the Open Space Art Society

A distinctive voice in the fields of conceptual, performance and mail-art, Anna Banana is a pioneer of participatory art practices. Born in Victoria, British Columbia in 1940, she began her career as a textile artist in the 1960s. However, driven by a desire to have more direct interaction with viewers, in 1971, she declared herself the city’s Town Fool, organizing a variety of events aimed at engaging the public in creative endeavours.

At the time, Banana’s participatory initiatives would have been amongst the most avant-garde art being practiced in Victoria. While the Town Fool projects provided her with an opportunity to connect with local audiences, in order to reach out beyond the limits and limitations of her hometown, she began to produce and circulate her newsletter, the Banana Rag, in 1971. This connected her to the International Mail Art Network (IMAN), and artists in a range of cities, including Vancouver, Toronto and New York.

Driven by the desire to work amongst a more responsive community, in 1973, Banana moved to San Francisco, where she found collaborators in that city’s mail art and Dada activities. While there she published her first issue of VILE Magazine (in 1974), a publication that was a parody of both LIFE magazine and General Idea’s FILE. VILE provided Banana with a venue for exploring and documenting the work of mail-artists from around the world.

Banana would live and work in San Francisco until 1981, when she returned to Canada. Over her more than four-decade career, she has continued to participate in mail-art exchanges, performance art, network exhibits and projects, writing and publishing. Anna Banana: 45 Years of Fooling Around with A. Banana is a collaborative effort between the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria and Open Space, and will include work from the span of Banana’s long and accomplished career while it presents a number of projects that celebrate Banana’s current interests and practice. A full-colour catalogue with texts by experts in Banana’s work from around the world, the first to document the full expanse of Banana’s remarkable career, will accompany the exhibition.

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