Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say (1992-1993)
Artwork description & Analysis: In Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say, Wearing photographed over 500 strangers that she met on the streets of London, asking each to write on a sheet of paper whatever was on their minds. It was not Wearing's first venture into photography but her first significant collaboration with the public. The artist did not choose the individuals, rather "The idea of Signs is that if you approached anyone they would have something interesting to say".
Wearing was responding to the stereotype of British people as overly reserved and unfriendly towards strangers, by offering these strangers a voice to say something about
themselves. Although some individuals responded rudely to the artist's approach, the majority took the project seriously and were keen to collaborate. Wearing was surprised by their generosity in sharing thoughts and stories and later remarked "These early works are a celebration the idiosyncrasies and nuances that make people who they are."
Like many of Wearing's later works, such as Confess All on Video. Don't worry you will be in disguise. Intrigued? Call Gillian. (1994), Signs series examines the relationship between public image and private identity. The resulting images are surprising and revealing. Notable and most often reproduced are images of the City worker who wrote, "I'm desperate" and the policeman with his sign "Help". Others include an elderly couple in a busy area holding a sign saying "I like to be in the country" and a homeless man with the statement: "I signed on [for unemployment benefits] and they would not give me nothing".
I love the idea of signs, some in your face but I like the signified signs too, the ones where you have to look a little closer like my achronisms in my images last module.
Gillian Wearing – I’m desperate from Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say, 1992-1993