Playing all parts

Gillian Wearing, Self-portrait, 2000

People take pictures for all sorts of reasons. The family album is the way we build shared memories as a family group. Our appearance is recorded for documents such as passports, driving licenses and the like. Artists make portraits for a host of reasons but often the aim is in some way to understand people and how we relate to one another or to the world around us. Self-portraits can provide an opportunity to pretend, to become someone else, perhaps to suggest a narrative in the way that someone like Cindy Sherman does.

For Gillian Wearing, self-portraits are usually made from behind a mask. While many of us put on what is effectively a mask-like expression for the camera, Wearing goes for a more literal and painstaking approach.

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