Private View

Gillian Wearing
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The Independent Online

Gillian Wearing, winner of the 1997 Turner Prize, is an artist obsessed with the nature of inhibition and the power of confession. And nowhere is that more clearly illustrated than in Trauma, the only wholly new video in the Serpentine Gallery's current exhibition of her work.

Gillian Wearing, winner of the 1997 Turner Prize, is an artist obsessed with the nature of inhibition and the power of confession. And nowhere is that more clearly illustrated than in Trauma, the only wholly new video in the Serpentine Gallery's current exhibition of her work.

Trauma consists of a series of harrowing monologues, accounts of physical and sexual assaults, delivered by "real" people to a fixed camera. Wearing's coup is to have all of them wear Noh-style masks and cheap, acrylic wigs. The masks protect their anonymity but also disturb and alienate the audience - we have to work out their gender, we have to guess at their emotional states, so we end up experiencing some of their confusion and isolation.

Wearing's work asks us how comfortable we are with what we are seeing, and in Drunk (above), a recently-completed video, this question is excruciatingly framed as we watch a group of alcoholics falling about a pristine studio. On one level, it is the usual story of slow-motion aggression and melodramatic intercession; on another it is about prurience and our capacity to witness distress.

The Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Park Gardens, London W2 (020-7402 6075)

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