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Anyone know about Gillian Wearing's Signs?

(9 Posts)
Achooblessyou Sun 13-Dec-15 16:51:44

Homework question (for 12 year old)-
Research gw's signs... ...produce a research sheet that's visually interesting and demonstrates your understanding of the work.

I'd never heard of her so I googled. I'm thinking its a bit about not judging a book by its cover. But some of the pictures are just plain daft and completely meaningless imho!

Does anyone have any insightful thoughts that are better than mine?!

Achooblessyou Sun 13-Dec-15 17:01:39

Everyone else as underwhelmed by me by this?

Bumping as it's got to be in tomorrowgrin

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Sun 13-Dec-15 17:04:47

We used to have a big poster of the man holding the 'I 'm desperate ' sign in our kitchen when I was a student smile
Sorry, I know that doesn't help much!

Achooblessyou Sun 13-Dec-15 17:35:38

Yes that's definitely one of the better ones that might actually say something! Some of the others I have to say are drivel and I can't think of anything "clever" to say about them!

It does show that they inspired a bit of a trend?

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Sun 13-Dec-15 18:05:43

Yes, they absolutely did. I think they felt really fresh and original at the time (though iirc there were rumours she had nicked the idea from someone else?) which is hard to imagine now the Internet is full of the world and his dog holding up signs.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Sun 13-Dec-15 18:08:06

I don't know to what extent getting ordinary people to take part in the art was new then as well, and if you give them free rein you will inevitably end up with some odd or pointless ones.

PlentyOfPubeGardens Sun 13-Dec-15 18:18:59

Some of the images may 'work' better than others but they're probably best understood as a complete series rather than individually. How she made the series is important to the work. She's interviewed here:

Wearing's first landmark work was quite a quaint exercise in exposing interior lives to the world. She approached people at random on London streets and asked them to write down on a piece of card what was on their minds. She then photographed them holding the signs. The images were surprisingly revealing, intentionally and not – the City worker with thinning hair who scrawled "I'm desperate", the black policeman who wrote "Help". They not only gave her subjects a voice, they gave viewers an instant snapshot of worlds of interiors. Some of Signs that say what you want them to say and not signs that say what someone else wants you to say will be included in Wearing's compelling retrospective, which opens at the Whitechapel Gallery at the end of the month. I wonder how she sees them herself, now?

"Well," she says, "when I did them it was a million miles away from where we are now. In 1992, we were still being fed this line that British people are reserved and don't like to express what they are feeling. The idea of Signs is that if you approached anyone they would have something interesting to say. I never picked people. If they grasped the idea I was making art rather than a survey, then they tended to be intrigued."

cdtaylornats Sat 19-Dec-15 21:15:47

It fails my basic test for is it art -

If I have to be told it's art - then it isn't

tethersend Sat 19-Dec-15 21:22:00

It passes mine, cdtaylor- if it's made with the intention of it being art, then it is wink

Volkswagen famously stole the idea for their adverts.

It's interesting in that the artist relinquishes control of the image and gives it to the subject- to what extent she is successful in doing this could make for a good discussion.

For a 12yo, I'd be tempted to produce a sheet or two of them holding placards with their thoughts about the work written on.

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