Banks Violette


Banks Violette

Born 1973 Ithaca, New York

Lives and works in New York



Banks Violette has created a visual language linked to his background and personal history that is derived from pop culture's aestheticisation of death. This highly personal language is intended to provide an account of the disturbing psychology that underlies attitudes and acts that have defined the frustrations and anger of a marginalised group of white American youth. Beneath the surface of Violette’s pared down black sculptures, occasionally redeemed by the white of salt crystals, is a melancholy that sometimes sinks into sorrow. This sense of sadness with which all Violette’s work is imbued is linked to a tragic dimension of pop culture.

Goths and heavy metal have spawned a sub-culture of young people for whom extreme acts of violence are somehow more readily acceptable as part of the process of asserting identity than has been the case in a recent past that includes Violette’s own somewhat troubled youth. Citing examples where musical lyrics become instigating factors to real-life violence, he refers to an over-identification with fiction where fantasy and reality are blurred. Violette is interested in the moral ambiguities that result from this condition rather than seeking a catharsis.

He works backwards from a site of tragedy, exploring the emotional and psychic energy that lies beneath the suburban angst of a group disengaged from mainstream life. The burning of wooden churches in Norway by members of the Black metal music scene during the 1990’s is the subject for Untitled (Church) 2005. The charred frame of a ficitionlised church cast in resin and salt is as much a monument to a groups act of transgression as it is to the mythology and notoriety which subsequently followed.