Gillian Wearing

GILLIAN WEARING, Self-Portrait at 17 Years Old, 2003,
Chromogenic color print, 41 x 32″ (104.1 x 81.3 cm)
The Museum of Modern Art, New York. Acquired through the generosity of The Contemporary Arts Council of The Museum of Modern Art
Courtesy of the artist, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York, and Maureen Paley, London © 2010 GILLIAN WEARING

Fascinated by how people present themselves in front of the camera in fly-on-the-wall documentaries and reality TV, the 1997 Turner Prize-winning British artist GILLIAN WEARING explores – by masking her subjects or using theatre’s staging techniques – the delicate border zone where her individuality ends and another’s begins.

Self Portrait at 17 Years Old comes from a series of so-called self-portraits, in which WEARING transform herself into each member
of her family: her father Brian, her grandmother Nancy Gregory, her brother Richard, and her own teenage self (picture above). It’s only WEARING‘s eyes, peeking through each mask, that unite this peculiar family album and provoke a marked degree of discomfort in the viewer.

Confronting the viewer with her adult gaze through the eyeholes of the toddler’s mask,
WEARING plays on the rift between interior and exterior and raises a multitude of
provocative questions about identity, memory, and the veracity of
the photographic medium. – by TED MANN

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