Texts and video

Gillian Wearing’s work plays with the notions of identity and revelation and often employs masks that decouple the subject from their position in society, enabling them to feel secure enough to reveal. In the exhibition catalogue from the Whitechapel show, the soundtracks of her videos have been transcribed – which of course transliterates the context and some extent the narrative. I was particularly struck, in respect of my current work, the “Call Gillian” video series, where the subjects portraits were made after they had a certain disguise applied. This facial modification providing them the license to reveal, as if the only means by which readers to the work, be it video or textual form, could identify the narrator. Not having viewed the videos I wonder of the voice had been altered – something try and check on later.

I have transcribed a number of texts from the audio recordings of my mother and will try and set about some experiments with them. Wearing’s subjects often felt the need to present narratives of a deeply personal and sexual nature and I’m interested in the way I feel about the disguises as I’m sure it affects the way I feel about the narratives expressed:

The texts that I have reaped from the recordings are so far quite short, however I may extend them depending on how the work progresses:

It was just under the carpet as far as anyone was concerned. What had happened that day or night will never be known, but I know in my heart of hearts that that child was alive. 

She always knew when her mother was pregnant because she changed her pinny in the afternoon.

Over the years when it comes into my mind, which it does on a lot of occasions, I think of it. It comes flashing through my mind and I say to myself yeah, I know what happened, I know what happened. 

I know things have happened while I was there but I don’t remember them, I only remember the stories that were told to me.

I shall remain with video for the time being. Some Ideas that I’ve had is to loop the video with different actors speaking the same words. I need to source some volunteers to read the stories. My wondering is about how the purposeful fictionalisation will determine how the stories are portrayed.

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