Front Page







World Summary

On Air


Talking Point


Text Only


Site Map

Wednesday, December 3, 1997 Published at 14:43 GMT

Turner Prize

Gillian Wearing - Turner Prize winner 1997
image: [ 60 Minutes Silence ]
60 Minutes Silence

Unlike those she beat to claim this year's Turner Prize, Gillian Wearing is more interested in live people than dead ones or dead matter.

She says that her some of her main formative influences were the 1970s fly-on-the-wall documentaries such as The Family and much of her work uses video and photographs to focus on the conflict between established behaviour and what people do on impulse.

Wearing uses real people, usually from where she lives in south east London, to create her art. One such example is 60 Minutes Silence, which at first sight is a lifesize photo of 26 police officers.

Eventually, the viewer realises that the work is a video - the officers are trying to remain still and quiet for the full hour but the strain gradually builds and they shuffle and flex.

The Daily Telegraph's Richard Dorment describes how one officer succeeded in remaining near-motionless the whole time until told that time was up. He then "lets out a yelp of relief that you can hear all over the gallery. The moment is like a dam bursting. His final, cathartic, joyful cry is one of the great moments in the history of recent British art."

[ image: Confess all on video...]
Confess all on video...
Those officers were all volunteers, as were the people Wearing recruited in 1994 after placing an advert in a magazine's personal column. The advert, which became the title of the work, ran "Confess all on video. Don't worry you'll be in disguise. Intrigued? Call Gillian ... "

As it says, Wearing covered her 10 volunteers in wigs and masks and recorded their tales of theft, revenge, betrayal and sexual perversion.

[ image: The Turner Prize winner]
The Turner Prize winner
But Wearing is not out to exploit people for the sake of it. Dancing In Peckham, for example, was based on having seen a woman dancing wildly at a concert completely unaware that people were making fun of her.

"Asking her to be in one of my videos would have been patronising," Wearing said, "So I decided to do it myself."

The artist therefore danced to the music of Nirvana and Gloria Gaynor - music which was heard only in her head - for half an hour in a Peckham shopping centre while the ordinary British public walked past, un-noticing or ignoring.

The BBC gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the Tate Gallery in producing this page - in particular the use of material from its book, The Turner Prize, by Kate Button.

Back to top | BBC News Home | BBC Homepage

Internet Links

Institute of Contemporary Arts

Royal Society of Arts

Channel 4

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites.