Two poignant videos by Wearing were screened in this exhibition. In Trauma (2000) people tell of traumatic experiences from their childhood, while Prelude (2000) is a posthumous ode to a young alcoholic who died suddenly.
Gillian Wearing (b. Birmingham, 1963), winner of the prestigious British Turner Prize in 1997, is one of the most successful artists in England. Together with Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucas she belongs to the generation of YBA’s (Young British Artists) who created a furore in the 1990s. Wearing’s work almost always deals with the difference between the visible, outward appearance of a person and their unfathomable inward feelings. In her work she tries to build a bridge between how someone really is and the role that he or she plays in everyday life.
In de video Trauma (2000) the subjects, their faces disguised by masks, tell about traumatic childhood experiences. The masks are of children’s faces, referring to the age at which the events took place. Only the subjects’ eyes can be seen through the masks hiding their faces, deeply scarred by domestic violence and sexual abuse.
In the short video film Prelude, from 2000, we see Lindsey, a young woman with spiky hair, a cigarette in reserve behind her ear, laughing impudently, now and then taking a swig from a can of beer. A restrained woman’s voice speaks about her ambitions, desires and expectations. Only in the closing credits does the viewer understand that that is not Lindsey’s voice. She died of liver disease a few days after the video was recorded; the voice is that of her twin sister. Although the video was recorded in 1997, Wearing was so affected by Lindsey’s death that it was only in 2000 that she edited the video film. The shock of her death is palpable in this sombre, grey video film – a prelude to death.