Selected works by Banks Violette

Banks Violette
Hate Them


polystyrene, polyurethane, tinted epoxy, wood, steel, drum stands and hardware

152.5 x 366 x 244 cm
Banks Violette’s Hate Them replicates a nightmarish teenage psyche. His minimalist suggestion of a rock band hovers above a sound stage with barbaric awe. Bank’s gnarlish fang-like forms encapsulate a testosterone-fuelled aggression with an iconic and primal flair. Drawing correlations between subculture and theatre, Violette addresses Black Metal as a performative act without clear limitation: a unique spectacle where artistic meaning is often literalised into real belief. Fuelled by its associations with violence, satanism, racism, and nationalism, Violette uses the Goth genre as both symptom and cause of individual immorality and social breakdown.
Banks Violette
Black Hole (Single Channel)


sculpture and wall drawing mixed media

45.7 x 213.4 x 214.4 cm
Death metal, ritual murder, and teenage suicide are mere starting points for Banks Violette; his gothic installations construct operatic analyses of the dark side of American culture. In works such as Black Hole, Violette aptly portrays this phenomenon of excess. Heavy-metal aesthetics become a mirror of youth culture anxiety, an adopted language compensating and empowering sensations of immense sorrow and despair. Citing examples where musical lyrics become instigating factors to real-life violence, Violette refers to an over-identification with fiction where artistic expression exceeds critical confinement, and fantasy and reality are blurred. Black Hole lingers on this edge of transition: its aestheticised destruction offers both horrific contemplation and potential for misuse.
Banks Violette
SunnO))) / (Repeater) Decay / Coma Mirror


Steel, hardware, plywood, paint, fibreglass, tinted epoxy, salt, resin

Dimensions variable
Banks Violette’s Untitled takes as its origin a performance by the rock bank SunnO))) which the audience was allowed to hear, but not to see. Casting their stage equipment in salt, Violette’s Untitled comprises the only visual documentation of this event. Through its strange crystalline and ghostly presence, Untitled captures the lingering aura of ominous phenomena. Reminiscent of the biblical story of Sodom, Violettle’s contemporary ‘pillars’ of salt give aftermath testimony to forbidden indulgence. During SunnO)))’s performance, the lead singer was encased in a black coffin. Represented as a shard-like abstraction, an ebony form takes centre stage as a mysterious monument of dissolution.


Banks Violette at Work

Interview by James Westcott

Banks Violette’s installation at the Team Gallery in 2002, referenced the murder of 15-year old Elyse Marie Pahier in 1995 by three teenage boys who were heavily into death metal. They stabbed her 12 times and left her body in a forest for eight months. Violette set up stalactite-shaped black bongos on cymbal stands, which somehow resembled trees, and made a repulsively slick black pool of hard resin with a fallen tree trunk resting in it. Violette has made melting black drum kits and small stages; he paints horrific skulls, mournful faces, and galloping white horses too. He performs a strange kind of alchemy on the heavy metal aesthetic, so that it’s not quite kitsch, and not quite willfully ugly like the original, but more entrancing and always accusatory. A star of last year’s Whitney Biennial, Violette has been invited back for a solo show. I visited his studio to watch him at work.

James Westcott: What’s your new work for the Whitney about?

Banks Violette: There were a series of events that took place in Norway in the early 90s within the subculture of black metal. It happened in a place that is ethnically homogenous, with an elevated average income, and where Christianity has a large function in day-to-day life. In the early 90s, a group of about 20 teenagers got heavily involved with more extreme versions of heavy metal—theatrically aggressive, overtly satanic, the real barbarian dimension of heavy metal.

Read the entire article here

Ultra-Violette by Ben Davis

The first thing you see when you enter the Whitney’s first-floor project gallery is the 16 x 20 foot recreation of a burned-out church, slightly elevated atop a gleaming, mirror-like black stage. The beams of the structure are zombie white, gashed here and there, made of salt bonded with polyurethane resin. In places, the structure is broken, the jagged ends rimmed with black as if charred.
As you walk around the construction, the scene is washed over by the murky, dank drone of electric noise, throbbing from speakers around the perimeter of the space. The ominous music seems to pulsate with your movements (in fact, it is connected to motion sensors), as if the ruin was haunted and responding to you as you circled it.

Read the entire article here