Gillian Wearing

Gorney Bravin + Lee

AREN'T YOU ALLOWED TO WIN THE TURNER PRIZE TWICE? Gillian Wearing should have been a shoo-in again this year (she won in 1997) on the strength of her three-channel video projection Drunk, 1997–99. Wearing's plan—to cultivate a bunch of skid-row types over a period of years, give them the run of her studio, and film the proceedings—sounds like a recipe for disaster, not only for practical and aesthetic reasons but on ethical grounds as well. Yet the artist's formal rigor makes the work a minimalist masterpiece: at once somnolent and keyed up, like its subjects—a cross between Andy Warhol and Samuel Beckett, if such a hybrid were possible.

Wearing has always demonstrated a knack for simple yet effective ways of formalizing what would otherwise be recalcitrantly naturalistic material. Think of the adolescent confessions of 10-16,1997, lip-synched by adult actors (including that

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