Gillian Wearing • Whitechapel Gallery
Hiding behind the mask of The Whitechapel Gallery, curator Daniel F. Herrmann displays an intimate insight into the identity of Gillian Wearing.
Gillian Wearing was always one of those artist my teacher at school would shovel down my throat. So much so, that once I developed my own understanding and knowledge of the art world, I purposely shied away from the likes of Wearing because I associated it with an amateur practice. The Whitechapel Gallery, I’m ashamed to say, have proven that I have been missing out all these years. The incredible curation of the show illustrates what a refined and pioneering practitioner Wearing is. Displaying iconic pieces from her work in video, photography and sculpture, the exhibition sends the viewer on an emotional rollercoaster.
Opening with a selection of video projection separated into mini timber cinemas, Wearing debuts her 2010 film Bully. A challenging film in which the artist asks a random person to take trained actors and direct an emotional scene from his life. The film and it’s ‘characters’ blur the boundaries between fiction and reality as the director relives the traumatic events he experienced and the process breaks him to tears (and the audience).
Later viewers are reintroduced to Wearings iconic photographs where the artist reconstructs herself as her ‘family’ through the use of masks. Mixing photographs of her portraying her real life family as in Self Portrait as My Grandmother Nancy Gregory and people who had an influence in her life like Me as Warhol in Drag with Scar, the artist is able to display the construction of her own identity whilst simultaneously masking it, leaving a haunting and humorous impression.
Though a small show, it is certainly a considered one. Along side these works are other video pieces and sculptures which support and develop Wearing’s investigation into the creation and notion of identity, that which we portray and that which is true. Open until June 17th, this is a must see…