The artist I chose to read/speak about from Linda Weintraub’s book, In the Making, was Gillian Wearing (p110-118). I felt a connection with the series she did from the project we just completed in class on opposite day. She has her subjects speak or ‘communicate’ through a written statement on a piece of paper. Much of what I was doing last Wednesday, mine just involved a chalkboard and was only used as a form of alternate communication. A lot of her work involves discovering honest or unknown details of people. She had to meet people and instantly gain their trust. This can be seen on the images I’ve included and through one of her best pieces, Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say (1992-93). Gillian Wearing randomly stopped people on the street, had them write something down on a piece of paper, and then photographed them. You can see the shocking, yet funny results from the images I posted.
As with what we now have as Reality TV, Wearing brought the aspect of declaration through the way of fine art. From drunks to transsexuals to moms and blue collar workers, they all used Wearing’s work as a creative outlet for themselves. As Wearing says “We all have secrets, we all have things we contain within our lives…you never lose those doubts. They inhabit your body forever. We see our bodies as vessels, and what goes on inside is often much more complex and complicated, that disparity between the look of a person and the things going on inside is what I wanted to bring out.” And that is just what she did. She was able to provide an outlet for some people who may have not been able to freely say what they wrote down.
One point of this project was to look at perception. Most of the time we look at a someone, we automatically come up with ideas or thoughts about them based on how they look or what they are wearing and we don’t even know anything about them! If we are then presented with the opportunity to talk to them, most of the time anyone can say they were being way too judgemental and critical. I love to meet new people and find out interesting facts about them. Many that I have met have taught me something, have been to some amazing places, or simply became a good friend.
After Wearing completed her eighteen-month-long project, she mounted the photographs on aluminum and hung them side-by-side.
Her work has been able to show us and teach us about making quick judgements. She showed people how false their initial convictions of someone could be and that the majority of the time they were. Wearing also took advantage of the power that signs create. Signs are mostly advertisements and “people today are programmed to read signs” (Weintraub p113).
Gillian Wearing also has video installations and other series she has done to first enlist people’s trust and then have them reveal their most private information. One of them is called Drunk. It is a video installation and was created over several years. Wearing invites a bunch of homeless derelicts into her studio, provides them with shelter, friendship, and most importantly, free beer! What you see is what you get-most of the same as what you see on the streets-drinking beer, urinating, sleeping, fighting, intoxication, and all the other fun stuff you choose not to look at when you see them on the streets.
Gillian Wearing combines her photographic talent and psychological abilities to show people what might of been right in front of them before, but what they may have chosen not to notice. She gets more involved in her work than other artists might by gaining people’s trust and befriending them. At the same time she is helping herself by creating art, she is helping others by providing them with an indispensable outlet.