In her sardonic body of video and photographic works Gillian Wearing penetrates the soul of the passer-by and reveals the truth that lies behind the mask of anonymity. Wearing generally invites her friends or any street people to express their inner sentiments that, astonishingly, lay bare anarchist believes or profound social insecurity.
In 'Dancing In Peckham', 1994, the roles are reversed: the artist herself self-humiliates by maniacally dancing on a music that plays in her headphones, in front of a Shopping-Mall audience, unaware of the what's happening.
The idea came after she had been stunned by a 'fanatic' dancer performing totally out of synchronisation in the Royal Festival Hall:
"I had to make a conscious decision to do that piece. It didn't come easily. It was actually because I had seen someone else dancing crazily - she was someone whom I instantly liked, or was interested in, or was interested in, someone who could do that without feeling totally self-conscious. It was about taking that kind of fantasy and being able to do something in a public space, where you do end up looking like a nutter, ultimately, because it's not acceptable." (G. Wearing, in: 'Gillian Wearing', London 1999, p. 26)
In 'Dancing in Peckham', an extreme and palpable tension arises from the contrast between Wearing's frantic dance and the silence that she uses a burlesque device taken from silent movies. By cleverly controlling her apparent recklessness, the artist forces the viewers to share her embarrassment and then to reveal their own lack of confidence, and the dance continues despite the social gaze.
In this bright reflection on identity and self-representation, Wearing discloses and exposes:
"I'm always trying to find ways of discovering things about people, and in the process discovering more about myself" (In: B. Riemschneider and U. Grosenick (Ed.), 'Art at the Turn of the Millennium', Cologne 1999, p. 526)