I have been a fan of Gillian Wearing for some time and as identity (her own and others) is often a running theme in her work something I have always been interested in, in regards to my work, she has always been a huge inspiration. Therefore, as a member of the Whitechapel Gallery I was so excited to hear she was exhibiting there. As soon as I was back home, the first thing I did was take myself off to see it and I was definitely not disappointed.
British artist Gillian Wearing explores the public and private identities of ordinary people through her photographs and films. Fascinated by how people represent themselves in fly-on-the-wall documentaries, she explores ideas of personal identity by often masking her subjects and using theatre's staging techniques. It was first time I got to see her video installations in a gallery context, some I had seen over the internet other works I had only heard about and I was mesmerised by the mixture of work, some humorous like her 1997 piece, 10-16 where Adults lip synch the voices and act out the physical tics of seven children in a captivating film which moves from the breathless excitement of a ten year old to the existential angst of an adolescent. Others much more poignant such as Prelude about a female street drinker who died during the making of Drunk. Wearing brings together fragments of the woman’s story as a tribute to her life. This four-minute piece is narrated by her twin sister and is an intense portrait that elicits questions about predominant social values and was really beautifully done. And of course there was her brilliant photographic series Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say.
Gillian Wearing was yet another exhibition I walked out of with the book under my arm and a lot to think about. All her work whether funny or sad is thought provoking, dealing with the ideas of the everyday and everyday people something I am constantly drawn to in my own work. I urge all you Wearing fans out there to go see it. Whitechapel is a fantastic gallery space and it really does justice to Wearing's work.