Gillian Wearing

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Gillian Wearing (born 1963) is an English conceptual artist, one of the so-called YBAs, and winner of the annual British fine arts award, The Turner Prize, in 1997.

Contents

[edit] Life and work

Gillian Wearing was born in Birmingham. She moved to Chelsea, London to study art at the Chelsea School of Art and later went on to Goldsmiths College.

[edit] 1990s

Her work was included in several of the shows which brought the so-called Young British Artists into the public eye, including Brilliant!, held at the Walker Art Center in 1995 and Sensation, held in London in 1997.

Wearing has acknowledged the influence of 1970s English fly-on-the-wall documentaries such as Michael Apted's 7-Up, and many of her works have a similar concern with discovering details about individuals. She has said "I'm always trying to find ways of discovering new things about people, and in the process discover more about myself."

This concern can be seen in one of her best known pieces and her first major work, Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say (1992–93), initially shown at the artists-run London gallery City Racing. This consists of a series of photographs, each showing a member of the public who Wearing had stopped on the street and gotten to spontaneously write something down on a piece of paper. Wearing then photographed the people holding the paper. Some of the results are a little surprising: a smart young man dressed in a business suit holds a sign which reads "I'm desperate", while a police officer has written the single word "Help!". In Wearing's words, "A great deal of my work is about questioning handed-down truths". The work was shown in the 1993 exhibition Okay Behavior at 303 Gallery and helped establish her career as well as that of Adam Chodzko, Mathew Hale and Bill Burns.

Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say was, Wearing claimed, overtly pastiched in a British advertising campaign for the VW Golf (an automobile) made by agency BMP DDB.[1] Commenting on this turn of events Wearing said, "What really hurts is that it stops me doing my work because people [now] think I'm working for an advertising agency."[2]

In 1994, Wearing made a series of videos of people who responded to an advertisement in Time Out asking for people to "Confess all on video". Several people came forward and confessed to various things, some to past wrong-doings, some to on-going vices. All were disguised by wearing comic masks. Also in 1994, Wearing made Dancing in Peckham, a video of herself dancing in the middle of a shopping centre in Peckham.

As well as these pieces which concentrate on individuals, Wearing has made pieces that concentrate on groups of people. One, Sixty Minute Silence (1996) is a video of people dressed in police uniforms sitting as if for a group photograph for an hour. Their initial stillness eventually gives way to fidgeting. For Wearing, "The piece is about authority, restraint, and control."[3]

[edit] Winning the Turner Prize (1997)

Wearing won the Turner Prize in 1997, among a shortlist of four artists who were all female. This initially caused discussion in the media with some accusing the all-female selection as an overt act of political correction--after an all-male shortlist in 1996. For Wearing, "When the nomination was first announced, a lot of the argument about us being women was dropped as soon as people saw the show. No one actually relates the gender to the work. It only seemed a contentious issue if you didn’t see the art. At the end of the day, people who had seen the show talked about it in different terms."[4]

Sixty seconds silence and Sacha and Mum were two of the video artworks exhibited for the exhibition of the shortlisted artists held at the Tate Gallery in London.

[edit] 2000s

In 2000, Wearing made a film, Drunk (2000), which shows four drunk men staggering around a studio.

In Wearing’s Broad Street (2001), she documents the behavior of typical teenagers, in British society, who go out at night and drink large amounts of alcohol. Wearing shows teenagers partying at various clubs and bars along Broad Street in Birmingham. Wearing follows these teenagers demonstrating how alcohol contributes to their loss of inhibitions, insecurities, and control.[5]

In 2003, Wearing caused controversy with her cover for The Guardian's G2 supplement, consisting solely of the handwritten words "Fuck Cilla Black".[6] The cover illustrated an article by Stuart Jeffries complaining about the cruelty of modern television.

The themes of modern television were further explored in Wearing's recent project Family History (2006) commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella, and accompanied by a publication on the project.

Gillian Wearing has completed principal photography on her debut feature film, Self Made.

Gillian Wearing is represented by Maureen Paley in London.[7]

[edit] Personal life

Wearing's partner is fellow British artist Michael Landy.[8]

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Paul McCann,"VW stole my ideas, says Turner winner", The Independent, June 12, 1998.
  2. ^ Paul McCann,"VW stole my ideas, says Turner winner", The Independent, June 12, 1998.
  3. ^ Preece, R. & Flannery. M. (January 1998). "Turner Prize 1997: Generating art debate". World Sculpture News. http://www.artdesigncafe.com/Turner-Prize-1997-Gillian-Wearing-Christine-Borland. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  4. ^ Preece, R. & Flannery. M. (January 1998). "Turner Prize 1997: Generating art debate". World Sculpture News. http://www.artdesigncafe.com/Turner-Prize-1997-Gillian-Wearing-Christine-Borland. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  5. ^ Martin, Sylvia: "Broad Street", Video Art, page 94. Taschen, 2006.
  6. ^ Katz, Ian (8 January 2003). "Were we right to do this?". The Guardian. http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/2003/jan/08/art.artsfeatures. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  7. ^ (undated). "Gillian Wearing artist page; Maureen Paley gallery (London).". http://www.maureenpaley.com/artists/gillian-wearing. Retrieved 2010-08-13. 
  8. ^ Rachel Campbell-Johnston (2008-10-07). "Michael Landy - the man who had nothing". London: The Times. http://entertainment.timesonline.co.uk/tol/arts_and_entertainment/visual_arts/article4892680.ece. Retrieved 2008-10-22. 

[edit] External links

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