Gillian Wearing – Family Stories features a range of the artist’s works from 1992 to the present day that works with the theme of the family. The work includes photography, film and sculpture. Gillian Wearing explains her interest:“I look for situations where there is an element of truth. People can’t relate to a made-up fantasy of what a family is; they might aspire to it for themselves. But if they are to view someone else’s situation then they want something that is honest,” says Gillian Wearing.
Her new work A Real Danish Family, involves 492 Danish families, a jury, a TV show and a large-scale public bronze sculpture of a Danish family that will be unveiled on 13 October 2017 at SMK – which is also the day the museum opens the exhibition Gillian Wearing – Family Stories, parts of which chronicles the process of finding A Real Danish Family.
Public sculptures traditionally depict larger-than-life figures: famous people, royalty and mythical heroes, never families. However, with the nationwide sculpture project "A Real Danish Family". The project was first launched in the autumn of 2016, at which point all families in Denmark were invited to take part in a competition where they might end up immortalised in bronze. A total of 492 signed up, and a jury eventually picked one family as the winner. They have now sat for a life-sized bronze statue that will be erected in Copenhagen.
The Danish Broadcasting Corporation, DR, followed the entire process: From interviews with the various families who signed up all across the country to the jury’s deliberations and the final choice of the winning family. DR has made three TV programmes about the project; these will air for the first time on 2, 9 and 16 October 2017 on DR2.
Wearing has carried out similar sculpture projects twice before, in Trento and in Birmingham. On those occasions they were called "A Typical Trentino Family" (2008) and "A Real Birmingham Family" (2014). “I think it’s really hard to relate to most monuments around the world. They are famous people and they are normally very high up in lofty situations and you can’t see them. They’re on a pedestal and they are carved from a fictional idea of that person. Where this will be based on real people that are living now. And the clothes they wear now. I want to do this in bronze because a family should be strong, like bronze,“ explains Gillian Wearing.
The "A Real Danish Family" project was initiated by Kunsthal Aarhus and carried out as a collaboration between Gillian Wearing, Kunsthal Aarhus, DR and SMK. The project is supported by the Bikuben Foundation, the City of Copenhagen and the Danish Arts Foundation.