Gillian Wearing

Sep 8, 2012 — Jan 6, 2013

  • Installation view of the exhibition at K20, photo: Achim Kukulies

In her work, the British artist Gillian Wearing (*1963 in Birmingham, lives and works in London) investigates the relationship between public and private, fiction and reality, as well as between artist and viewer. The performative photographs and films of this 1997 Turner Prize recipient are based on personal revelations, private fantasies, and psychological trauma.

She exploits performance techniques drawn from the theatre, television and film. Wearing often places advertisements in order to recruit performers for her artistic projects. A variety of masks and costumes are used to ensure the privacy of participants. But Wearing also points the camera at herself. In her self-portraits, she appears in the role of her own mother, father, or brother. In a series of recent works, Wearing has created a singular family album: by appearing as Diane Arbus, Robert Mapplethorpe, Andy Warhol, Claude Cahun, and August Sander, she transforms itself into her artistic models.

Wearing interrogates her own notions of identity along with those of others. Against the background of reality TV and web 2.0, the phrase The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, the title of Erving Goffman’s classic work on the sociology of role-playing, could well emblematize Wearing’s outstanding contribution to contemporary art, a complex and affecting oeuvre which is presented for the first time in the German-speaking world in this major solo exhibition.

This overview extends fromWearing’s iconic early work SIGNS that Say What You Want Them to Say and Not SIGNS that Say What Someone Else Wants You to Say (1992–1993) all the way to the recent video Bully (2010). On view in this presentation, whose configuration was planned in consultation with the artist, are video works (with German subtitles), photographs, sculptures, and – for the first time outside of Great Britain – the space-filling installation Family History (2006).