Mark Wallinger’s contribution to this year’s Turner Prize is Sleeper (2004-05), a film of a performance in which, over a period of 10 nights, he dressed in a bear suit and wandered aimlessly around an art gallery in Berlin, startling unsuspecting passers-by. He relives the long nights for TateShots.
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meet the artist: mark WALLINGER, turner prize nominee
I am showing Sleeper which was something that I made in
I discovered that a children’s programme that fascinated and sort of traumatised my generation was Singing Ringing Tree was something known to people brought up in a former East but West Germans had no knowledge of it. Within that story the prince gets transformed into a bear so this kind of quite primal psychic link that I had to people beyond the wall for all those years I didn’t know about, I found that rather strangely moving in a way you know and to be inside a bear suit was making a sort of pathetic statement about looking through the eyes of something that was intrinsically of another culture.
I was kind of trying out the bear suit in this apartment yesterday and you know to begin with I couldn’t work for more than about quarter of an hour without freaking out, you know. Sometimes I was that hot and kind of feeling rather faint I didn’t know whether it was you know overheating or I was coming down with something serious but there is other moments that were just kind of strange and I mean I kind of relished doing it every night in the end.
When you hear actors going on about you know an audience being of different characters on different nights, I mean I did find that to be true and so some nights I would rush at the window and people would actually run off like you know I even managed a couple of screams once you know and another night I would rush the window and people were just kind of like yeah you know so I kind of enjoyed that but its weird in a way I was the art work but I was sort of hiding as well so that was very strange and I do remember it was about 2 in the morning and I was sitting in the middle of the space and there was actually no-one else around whatsoever and just looking out across to the Sony Centre and wondering you know strange kind of existence that brought me to this point, do you know what I mean and I mean that was a very funny feeling, that was you know one thing led to another and here I am dressed as a bear in the middle of this empty building with no-one looking at me, you know, like the tree falling in the forest or….you know but that felt like I had kind of met some yeah criteria for the task, yeah, that if I could do it for no-one.
Release date in this format: 6th November 2007.