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Cincinnati Art Museum to unveil new contemporary conceptual art in Life: Gillian Wearing

7/23/2018 12:00:00 AM

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CINCINNATI — Experience internationally-acclaimed conceptual artist Gillian Wearing in a rare major exhibition of her work in the Midwest at the Cincinnati Art Museum. Life: Gillian Wearing, October 5–December 30, 2018, unfolds insights into the human psyche with iconic lens-based works combining elements of performance, documentation and confession.

The solo exhibition will feature the world premiere of several new self-portraits, along with a concise selection of existing works. The new self-portraits are developments in an ongoing series of photographs in which Wearing inhabits the personas of other artists using masks and elaborate staging. In her new pictures Wearing engages with figures including Albrecht Dürer and Marcel Duchamp – both of whom have special relevance to the collection of the Cincinnati Art Museum. Another new work, a short video featuring Wearing in what appears to be a commercial advertisement for herself, represents new territory in the artist’s visibility in her own work and in her long-term engagement with contemporary media culture.

This exhibition is the Cincinnati Art Museum’s contribution to the 2018 FotoFocus Biennial: Open Archive, the largest photography and lens-based biennial in America. In 2018, more than 250 artists, curators, and educators are collaborating with FotoFocus on more than 90 projects of photography and lens-based art at museums and galleries across Greater Cincinnati, Northern Kentucky, Dayton and Columbus.

Life: Gillian Wearing will also present Snapshot (2005), a monumental seven-channel video installation that has not been seen in the United States outside of New York. Snapshot pays homage to the subtle power of still photography to tell intended and unintended stories. Seven different women at various stages of life, from youth to old age, are depicted on seven monitors corresponding to eras in the twentieth century, as an anonymous narrator relates memories from everyday life. Cumulatively, the work moves between personal confession and universal human insight.

Wearing said, “All photographs we take tell a story, but some are more significant. Our own snapshots may to a casual viewer seem not that interesting, until we explain the backstory about the image or the person portrayed and then it makes us look again.”

Nathaniel M. Stein, Cincinnati Art Museum’s Associate Curator of Photography and curator of this exhibition describes Life: Gillian Wearing and the debut of Wearing’s new works as among the most exciting projects of his career. “I’ve admired Wearing’s work for many years. I’m delighted visitors will have a chance to experience the way she can pose fundamental human questions through means that are so bracing and seem so direct. The new works in this exhibition promise to become iconic. They will stay with viewers for a long time.”

Wearing, born in 1963 in Birmingham, England, is best known for making photographs and videos that explore relationships between our private lives and public personas. The video installations and still photographs on view at the museum chart new territory in the artist’s engagement with identity, self-revelation and contemporary media culture. True to Wearing’s abiding interest in the human experience, they explore tensions between public and private life, the drive to tell our own secrets and know the secrets of others, and the blurry line between documentation and a constructed point of view.

Wearing has been awarded some of the most prestigious cultural honors of her native Britain, including the Turner Prize in 1997 and, in 2011, an Order of the British Empire (OBE) for her contributions to the arts. In 2007, she was named a lifetime member of the Royal Academy of Arts, London. Her work has been exhibited and collected by institutions including the National Portrait Gallery, London; The National Gallery of Denmark, Copenhagen; Whitechapel Gallery, London; Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne; Musée Rodin, Paris; Kunstverein München, Munich; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; Tate Britain, London and Tate Modern, London.

Life: Gillian Wearing is sponsored by FotoFocus, The Millard F. Rogers, Jr. Fund for Prints, Drawings, Photographs and Antiquities, and other generous individuals. This exhibition will be on view in the Thomas R. Schiff Gallery (G234), with an additional interpretative installation on the balcony (G235).

Tickets for Life: Gillian Wearing are free for museum members and FotoFocus Biennial Passport holders during the month of October. Tickets will soon be available for purchase by the general public at the Cincinnati Art Museum front desk and online at Visitors who purchase tickets to Life: Gillian Wearing receive free admission to The Fabric of India, on view October 19, 2018–January 6, 2019, and vice versa.


About the Cincinnati Art Museum
The Cincinnati Art Museum is supported by the generosity of individuals and businesses that give annually to Artswave. The Ohio Arts Council helps fund the Cincinnati Art Museum with state tax dollars to encourage economic growth, educational excellence and cultural enrichment for all Ohioans. The Cincinnati Art Museum gratefully acknowledges operating support from the City of Cincinnati, as well as our members.

Free general admission to the Cincinnati Art Museum is made possible by a gift from the Rosenthal Family Foundation. Special exhibition pricing may vary. Parking at the Cincinnati Art Museum is free. The museum is open Tuesday – Sunday, 11 a.m.–5 p.m. and Thursday, 11 a.m.–8 p.m.

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