|Gillian Wearing||postmedia.net 0ct. 97|
people are stopped in the street they expect to be asked
questions usually concerned with either a product, money,
a survey, a personality test or directions.To be asked
only to wnte something, anything, presents a challenge
and creates a totally different relationship to the
person posing the question. The bizarre request to be
'captured' on film by a complete stranger is compounded
by a non-specific space; the blank piece of paper, which
almost replicates an unexposed film.
Perhaps the fascination in the relationship between the person and their slogan is in the confidence or diffidence of the people being 'imaged' in the first place.
This image interrupts the logic of photo-documentary and snapshot photography by the subjects clear collusion and engineering of their own representation.
|Signs that say what you want them to say and not signs that say what someone else wants you to say|
Signs I was surprised at how willing people were to allow
such an invasion of their own privacy to occur. It made
me feel uncomfortable, but maybe this was an
acknowledgement of our fascination with people who are
'on the edge'. There is perhaps a fine line between that
fascination, and actually finding it funny.
GW: As a series, I don't find it humorous at all, that's just the one that covers everything. What might make it uncomfortable is people being so honest. Especially within the art world, you can get very guarded. That's why I ask strangers, because people are much more honest to someone they're not going to see again.
BJ: Signs has such a wide breadth, from homelessness to homosexuality to insanity, and it is this scope that separates it from social commentary.
GW: It leaves a lot to the imagination, that's what art should do. It leaves you something to go away with, something to think about. It doesn't say: this is a story, completely, and this is my take on it.
BJ: So it's that gap between what
we expect from something, and what you deliver.
BJ: We were talking earlier, in relation to your I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing video, about Coke as a big corporate power. It could lead us back to ideas about mass observation, or of us being watched or controlled in some way.
GW: Yeah, there's no idea of free will; that's ridiculous. This idea of humanism, which was initially about knowledge giving you power and giving you access to freedom. Now we feel we have access to all these things, but they're completely all controlled, because they have to be.
BJ: Like the Internet.
GW: Yeah, the Internet. People think that all of a sudden they're going to be ten times more powerful or knowledgeable. We're much less free. Even with the cowboys [appreciation society in Western Security], they've notched up something that to a certain extent society would frown upon, and yet they've done it. I like people who go outside of what we perceive to be normal. Because we've all got an opinion now of what we should and shouldn't do. We all control each other in a way, we all control each other's patterns and we all have ideas of ethics and morals and PC. But then that gets exploited, and everyone exploits each other, and that creates limitations to what we feel we can do. So it goes across everything, really.
BJ: It takes away that paranoia, to think that there's not one controlling force or body.
GW: Which makes it
harder to chip away at. When a person does have an
individual opinion they then look mad, because we've all
been so softened. Those people are usually the most
interesting. I always have been interested in people,
even when I was a young kid. So it seems for me quite a
natural thing that I'm interested in. I'd like to find
out as many facets as possible about people. I'm
interested in people more than I am in myself, maybe
that's what it is.
Signs that say what you want them to say and not signs that say what someone else wants you to say
Interim Art, London 1997