faces to watch in the art world 8. Gillian Wearing
Be wary of Gillian Wearing, with her microphone and innocent requests
Tuesday 26 September 1995
Be wary of Gillian Wearing, with hermicrophone and her innocent requests. If you see her, do not approach: she is armed and dangerous. "Lately I've been going up to women in flowered dresses, and asking them for their rendition of `I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing'," she says. "And on the video they all look like the Stepford Wives." Wearing's little scams and vox-pops end up as artworks, in which members of the public reveal their braggadocio, poignancy and vulnerability. But the person put most at risk in her works is often herself: Wearing is not in the humiliation game.
She's been photographed in bed with transsexuals, and recorded masked strangers talking about their guilty secrets. These can be terrible personal problems delivered alongside litanies of self-delusion and justification. She has got into their lives, and they don't always stay out of hers.
Wearing has been getting a lot of press lately, and is about to appear in the British Art Show and in a showcase exhibition of young British art in Minneapolis. Her bandaged trip down the Walworth Road is currently on show at Interim Art, and a hilarious, atmospheric video work, Western Surveillance, fills the lobby of the Hayward.
With its tan-coloured indoor prairies, its dry-gulch ramp and cement mesas, the Hayward may not be Monument Valley, but, for Wearing and a bunch of part-time outlaws, it has become a territory of gunfights and ambushes. Recently meeting a posse of weekend cowboys, Wearing invited them to act out their High Noon fantasies in the empty gallery, recording the action on surveillance cameras. The echo of gunfire ricochets round the South Bank, and Wearing stalks the mean mezzanines.
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