Staring at art from the Tate's collection and thinking about it

Thursday, 29 August 2013

The Garden - Gillian Wearing OBE

Gillian Wearing OBE, The Garden, 1997, Screenprint on paper, 651 x 889 mm, Tate.

A variant on Wearing's 'Signs That Say What You Want Them to Say and Not What Someone Else Wants You to Say' series.  Here the concept is a bit more ambiguous.  Wearing and companions pose in sloganed t-shirts.  But are the slogans declarations of their honest thoughts, or are they what they expressions of what they wish they could think and say?  Does Wearing really think she's as cool as Garfield?  Does the woman next to her believe her breasts to be brilliant?  I'm guessing the woman on the end (who looks vaguely familiar - it's not Joanna Lumley is it?) really does consider herself to be shy, as that's not generally an aspiration.  But then, did they choose their own t-shirts?  It's all a mildly interesting mystery.
   The execution, with the lettering coloured in on an otherwise monochrome image, is artless and naff, as it generally is in Wearing's work.  This, however, adds to it by creating a sense that we are witnessing a genuine and cheerful attempt at open and direct communication. Due to the title being a little less explanatory than normal for the artist, we don't quite get that here, but that's ok.  A bit of vagueness in a generally all-too readable oeuvre adds variety.

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