Gillian Wearing: Shakespeare's Confessions
Gillian Wearing, British conceptual artist and 1997 Turner Prize Winner, created the film Shakespeare’s Confessions. Here she explains the thinking behind the film:
“Taking the most confessional monologues from Shakespeare’s plays, I selected ones that could stand alone without the context of a fuller narrative. It’s left to our imagination as to what might not be said. I asked the actors to choose which character and story they would like to enact. I like the idea that their choice may mean they each find something relatable in the texts. I also worked with a range of acting styles predicated on what was most comfortable for each person.
The confessions of Shakespeare idea came out of my confessional video pieces, Confess All… 1994 to Secrets and Lies 2009. In these cases real confessions were spoken, but the people were all in disguise to protect their identities. I chose the same style of address which was the person talking directly to camera.
What I find the most interesting is that what is being said in the fictive narratives of Shakespeare may be different in content but not in emotional depth and personal analytical awareness. Shakespeare intuitively understood humanity, the emotions, fears, guilt and complexity of people more thoroughly than anyone before him.”
Gillian Wearing’s photographic works, videos and films explore the disparities between people’s public personae and their private selves. She is interested in the fears, fantasies and secrets of men and women and how we, as onlookers, identify with them.
Describing her approach as ‘editing life’, she has said: ‘A great deal of my work is about questioning handed-down truths … I’m always trying to find ways of discovering new things about people, and in the process discover more about myself.’
Her early documentary works, such as the series of photographs in which anonymous Londoners display signs revealing their inner thoughts, and the candid video confessions, led on to works in which she used actors.