Gillian Wearing. Dancing in Peckham

In Gillian Wearing’s early film Dancing in Peckham, her strong performative approach becomes obvious. The starting point for this work was a scene the artist observed and found fascinating. She saw a woman dancing to music only she could hear, completely lost to the world, in the foyer of a public building. Wearing transformed what she saw into a personal experience by slipping into the role of the stranger, exposing herself to the blank stares of passers-by in a shopping mall in the London borough of Peckham. The irreconcilability of the authentic expression of one’s own feelings with the norms of social life, of the everyday presentation of self with the perception of others, is the central theme of this work.


Gillian Wearing was born in 1963 in Birmingham. She is an artist and a performer. As an artist, Gillian has been exploring our lives for the past two decades. She describes her working method as ‘editing life’. Using photography and video to record people’s confessions, drawing on fly-on-the-wall documentaries, reality TV, and techniques of theatre, to explore how we present ourselves to the world. Wearing won the 1997 Turner Prize, is an OBE and Royal Academician, and her works are exhibited in international venues.