Dancing in Peckham (production still)
About the work
The still image captures Wearing immersed in her dance, eyes closed, hair flicked up as she moves completely absorbed in her dance. In the unremarkable setting of the shopping centre we see glimpses of other people in the background. Closest to her is a young boy in shades and sports gear; his mid-stride stance provides a formal counterpart to the artist’s dancing legs.
Wearing often explores ideas of what is considered normalised behaviour – how a person is perceived by society through their actions, and the related conflicts between private and public life. For 'Dancing in Peckham', Wearing appeared in the work herself, commenting that:
'There are some things you can’t ask of the public… For instance, the original idea for ‘Dancing in Peckham’ stemmed from seeing this woman dancing wildly in the Royal Festival Hall. She was completely unaware that people were mocking her… Asking her to be in one of my videos would have been patronising, so I decided to do it myself'.
Exploring aspects of private and public identity, Wearing frequently places herself as the subject of a work. Masks have also frequently featured in her work, their ability to instil anonymity allowing wearers to express themselves freely, or to reveal a truth or secret.
About the artist
Born in Birmingham in 1963, Gillian Wearing studied at Chelsea School of Art and Design before attending Goldsmiths College where she was associated with the ‘Young British Artists’ or ‘YBA’ generation. Since then, Wearing has gained international recognition, winning the Turner Prize in 1997. A major retrospective at the Whitechapel Gallery in 2012 later toured to Düsseldorf and Munich in 2013. In 2017, the National Portrait Gallery held the exhibition ‘Gillian Wearing and Claude Cahun: Behind the Mask’ that explored shared issues of identity and gender. Wearing’s sculpture of Millicent Fawcett was unveiled in Parliament Square, London, in 2018 to mark the centenary of the Representation of the People Act of 1918.
Gillian Wearing (1963 - )
- Dancing in Peckham (production still)
- From an edition of 10
- R-type photograph
- height: 122.00 cm, width: 91.50 cm
- Purchased from Maureen Paley / Interim Art, November 1997
- GAC number