Conceptual artist Gillian Wearing stood in a busy area of South London and stopped passers-by, asking them to write down what was on their mind. She then photographed them holding their statement, and called the collection she created, “Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say 1992–1993.” In a series of over 50 photographs she created a story documenting economic decline in Britain in the early 1990s.
I took my own photograph of one of hers from the collection on a recent visit to The Tate (London). I imagined that for some it would have been quite hard to come up with something to write in the moment, so I was impressed with the range of very poignant comments people made.
Every day, we get to make decisions in slow time – perhaps at work sometimes a little faster than elsewhere – but nevertheless we often have the opportunity to ponder on what we want to say, to write, to do before we commit to doing it.
How about you? Could you come up with some words on the spot? What would your sign say?
Mine? “I think you’re very clever Gillian Wearing.”