Gillian Wearing

More Solo-Research

I have been looking around online to try and find photographers and artists who have had similar projects to mine in the past, so I am able to see how they have used similar conventions to me to convey meaning. Gillian Wearing was suggested to me as a photographer who has used a similar technique I am using to convey meaning.

Gillian Wearing has a photo series of people, ‘social outsiders’, holding up signs with statements the subject has made on them. This gives a voice where perhaps these people do not have one, to reach an audience and be heard in a society where they are oppressed for whatever reason. These photos were taken between 1992-3.


'I'm desperate' 1992-3 by Gillian Wearing OBE born 1963
‘I’m Desperate’


This first image is the most interesting to me due to its paradox. The facial expression shows a happy figure, content with his situation, and body language that shows confidence and pride. However, the sign he is holding up tells a different story. This sign, that states “I’m Desperate” could signify how this subject feels inside. The photo has been taken on the street in the public, as this signifies he is not an outlier, that this is a ‘common’ man that has this conflict between his presentation and his emotions.

This is a powerful image to me because it is addressing a ‘taboo’. To appear desperate is often seen as a sign of weakness in society, so this man is unique in the addressing of his own desperation, but this presentation is paradoxical due to his strong, confident representation in this image.

These images by Gillian Wearing are significant to my series of images as I am going to layer in information to my portraits by using text. Adding wording is another denotation in my work that I will use to convey each subject’s relationship to music. I will use a straight face, straight body language and the background to create meaning in my images. This will help the viewer add her/his own interpretation of the subject’s connection with music.

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