With the premise of portraiture as the basis of her practice, Gillian Wearing creates photographs and video installations that explore the disparities between public and private life, and notions of taboo, fear, and self-awareness. Her earliest photographic works tenderly reveal individuals—many of whom she did not know—through their images and their words. As her video work progressed, Wearing began portraying her subjects in disguise, sometimes interviewing them in a manner that builds a sense of trust and often leads to the airing of unsettling narratives. To create “Secrets and Lies,” Wearing recorded the intimate confessions of ordinary people who have donned mannequin-like masks and wigs to conceal their identities. To find her sitters, Wearing placed an online advertisement inviting volunteers to “confess all” on video. Presented in a heavily framed space, viewers are encouraged to enter this private, cryptic world. Provoking psychoanalysis and Judeo-Christian beliefs, Wearing provides a safe environment to contemplate the things that are better left unsaid.


  • Title: Secrets and Lies
  • Creator: Gillian Wearing
  • Date Created: 2009
  • Physical Dimensions: running time: 53 minutes, 16 seconds
  • Contributor: Collection Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Gift of Mrs. Georgia M. G. Forman, by exchange, Edith Seimons and Irene Pirson MacDonald Funds, 2011 (2011:38)
  • Rights: © Gillian Wearing, Courtesy of the artist, Tanya Bonakdar Gallery, New York and Maureen Paley, London
  • External Link: More information about the artwork is available here.
  • Medium: video for monitor with sound; edition 3/5 plus 2 artist's proofs
  • Image Information: Image courtesy of the Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York.
  • Artist's Nationality: British
  • Artist's Birth Year: 1963

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