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This comprehensive survey of Gillian Wearing's work, which also premieres new films and sculptures, shows how the artist is both political and poetic, finding the extraordinary in us all.
Gillian Wearing, Self Portrait at 17 Years Old, 2003
© The artist. Courtesy Maureen Paley, London
The Turner Prize winner's remarkable works draw on fly-on-the-wall documentaries, reality TV and the techniques of theatre, to explore how we present ourselves to the world.Wearing's portraits and mini-dramas reveal a paradox, given the chance to dress up, put on a mask or act out a role, the liberation of anonymity allows us to be more truly ourselves.
The idea of performance runs throughout the exhibition, in works including Wearing's 1997 masterpiece, 10"16. Adults lip synch the voices and act out the physical tics of seven children in a captivating film which moves from the breathless excitement of a ten year old to the existential angst of an adolescent.Other highlights include Wearing's iconic 1992 series, Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say, where strangers are offered paper and pen to communicate their message.
50% off with National Art Pass – £4.75 (standard admission is £9.50)
Tue – Sun, 11am – 6pm
Late openings Thurs and Fri until 9pm
Call 0844 412 4309 or visit the Whitechapel Gallery website
What the critics say
The show is almost entirely without visual interest " so if that's what you're after, go to the Royal Academy. But everything else about it is fascinating.
By giving us little to see, it actually makes us look harder.
It is an exhibition which takes risks. But it works triumphantly.
A show that uses both artefacts and film to immerse you in the playwright's life and times.
There is something otherworldly about the Tanks
If you want to explain recent British history to a teenager, take them to this show. It's all here and explained in pictures far more eloquently than in any history book