Artexte’s blog: a place for exchange, experimentation and sharing of ideas related to research in contemporary art.

This section gathers posts that showcase highlights from the collection, as well as links made between documents in the collection through serendipitous discovery.
This section highlights exchanges and conversations between the Artexte research community and the contemporary art community. It includes interviews, responses to articles or blog posts, or documentation of institutional partnerships.
This section features the work and observations of the individuals who frequent Artexte, including researchers, authors, students and artists.
This section is dedicated to employees, interns and volunteers who discuss their professional experience.
Field Notes

You are the Artist of Your Life: An Interview with Anna Banana

Interview with Artexte Librarian Jessica Hébert on October 2nd 2019.

Photo by Hélène Brousseau. Anna Banana with Librarian Jessica Hébert at Artexte, October 2019

Anna Banana was invited to Montréal in the Fall of 2019 to participate in Volume 2, Art and the Book, a series of art events, and a book fair organized by ARC MTL.

 

Anna Banana is a defining figure in Canadian Art. Her art career began in the early 1970s and draws on the traditions of Fluxus, Dadaist, Futurist and Theatre of the Absurd traditions[1]. Through participatory performances, her work seeks to engage with audiences and bring them into the creative process, to create art that is based on community and sharing, rather than competition and commodity.

 

Mail art sent to Réjean François Côté

Banana’s participatory practice extends to the realm of self-publishing, where she created a number of serial publications including, Banana Rag, Artiststamp News, International Art Post, and the underground classic VILE[2], which was a parody of FILE magazine by General Idea.  As a prominent member of the Eternal Network[3] of mail art over several decades, she used publishing to feature the work of other artists and to share news and images from the mail art community. Her publications both document the activities of the Eternal Network and participate in its ongoing conversation.

Anna Banana’s artist file has been an important part of Artexte’s collection for many years. It’s been a favourite to show to student groups and to artists because it testifies to the richness of documentation and the aesthetic potential of artist files. In her file we find copies of her artiststamps, artist publications including issues of her postal art newsletter Banana Rag, Artistamp News and VILE, as well as postcards, flyers for events like the Banana Olympics, and tour posters of the Futurist Sound performances with Bill Gaglione. Browsing through the contents allows us to see that contemporary art, research, and critique, can be fun and that humour is a powerful tool for engaging with the public. Through these traces of her works we see that Anna Banana’s art is for everyone.

For this interview, Jessica Hébert sat down with Anna Banana to look through her artist file and engage in discussion about her art practice, the importance of participation, publishing, the mail art network, and archiving. Anna reflects on what it means to look back on her work and the documentation that remains after almost 50 years of art making. 

 

The recorded interview also includes a spontaneous moment and a first-time in-person meeting between Anna and a long-time mail art correspondent Réjean François Côté, mail artist and friend of Artexte.

 

Notes

  • When is A. Banana Not A Banana? in 45 Years of Fooling Around with Anna Banana
    Anna Banana (dir. Michelle Jacques) (2015)
    Figure 1 Publishing : Art Gallery of Greater Victoria

    Edited by Michelle Jacques

  • For more information on Vile magazine, view the interview with Anna Banana by the Art Gallery of Greater Victoria, on YouTube
  • The term Eternal Network was coined by Robbert Filliou in the late 1960s, and is widely used to describe the network of correspondence and exchange of the mail art community.

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