Gillian Wearing

Gillian Wearing, Self Portrait at 17 Years, 2003. Old c-type print, 115.5 x 92 cm

Gillian Wearing, Me In My Mask, 2011. Courtesy the artist; Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York; Maureen Paley, London

Gillian Wearing, Secrets and Lies, 2009. Film still, video for monitor with sound, 53 minutes, 16 seconds.

Gillian Wearing, Secrets and Lies, 2009. Film still, video for monitor with sound, 53 minutes, 16 seconds

Gillian Wearing, Me as Arbus, 2008. Bromide print, 147 x 124 cm.

Gillian Wearing, Me as Warhol in Drag with Scar, 2010. Bromide print, framed: 156 x 133 cm

Gillian Wearing, Me As Mapplethorpe (based upon the Robert Mapplethorpe work: Self Portrait, 1988. © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation), 2009. Bromide print unframed: 150 x 122 cm.

A clip from: Gillian Wearing, 2 into 1, 1997. Colour video with sound, 4 minutes, 30 seconds.

Roberta Smith’s New York Times review of “People” at Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in May-June, 2011.

“People,” the title of Gillian Wearing’s powerful show of new work, states her overwhelming interest precisely: the human animal and, by extension, the often painful nature of existence and the will to endure. Ms. Wearing, one of the original Young British Artists, emerged in the early 1990s with photographs of strangers holding up written signs expressing their inner thoughts. (“I’m desperate,” from a natty businessman; “I don’t want to look like a boy,” from a flirtatious youth.)

Since then Ms. Wearing has relentlessly tested the limits of portraiture in photography and video, coaxing out the unstated feelings, scarring experiences and hidden personalities lurking beneath the surface. The styles and history of portrait photography itself increasingly interest her, as when she dons eerily accurate rubber masks to re-enact well-known images of Diane Arbus, Robert Mapplethorpe and Andy Warhol, three of the medium’s giants; or evokes earlier photographic styles — and various ages of women — in a seven-screen video work titled “Snapshot.”

In the video “Secrets and Lies,” nine Britons reveal secrets including infidelity and murder while wearing freakishly blank masks that hide their identities but not the agony expressed in their eyes and voices. In “Bully,” an especially strong video, a young man directs a group of actors as they re-enact his experience of being bullied, with emotionally searing results that disorientingly blur real and performed. Finally Ms. Wearing ventures into sculpture with two small bronze statues that commemorate ordinary people; their quietly heroic behavior is explained on plaques that recall the handwritten signs of her earlier work. Playing off public monuments, these idiosyncratic pieces affirm once more that people are much more complicated than conventional portraits can ever indicate.

Images via The Daily Beast, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York and Maureen Paley, London.

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The Turtles – You Showed Me

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How i fell in love with you.

 

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1 comment
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