My aim is to explore the blurred boundaries between reality and the imaginary – the gap and confusion between the two. I use lookalikes of celebrities and public figures to create a seemingly real documentary scenario which is in fact a fiction. Likeness becomes real and fantasy touches on the believable. The viewer is suspended in disbelief. I try to highlight the psychological relationship between what we see and what we imagine. This is bound up in our need to look – our voyeurism – and our need to believe.
My work is about simulation. Creating a clone or a copy of the ‘real’ on paper. It is not a fake, it takes the place of the ‘real’ for a moment. As Baudrillard puts it, simulation is different from feigning. Feigning is pretending, such as, feigning illness or pretending to be ill. The subject is not ill, just seeming to be, but ‘simulation threatens the difference between ‘true’ and ‘false’, between ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’. Since the simulator produces ‘true’ symptoms – is he ill or not? He cannot be treated objectively either as ‘ill’ or ‘not ill’.’
This is what I aim to do: create likeness of icons where in image – on paper – the simulation of icons, ‘threatens the difference between ‘true’ and ‘false’, between ‘real’ and ‘imaginary’.’ The real subject becomes ‘not necessary’. The image or icon is more important and more seductive. It doesn’t matter if it isn’t the ‘real’ icon – as long as it looks like him or her – it creates a temporary confusion. I search for this confusion and aim to create it within my work.
I explore to what extent I should create complete fantasy pictures not connected to anything ‘true’ or ‘real’ and the relevance of the connection to something ‘true’. I believe you cannot rely on your own perception when it comes to photography. I prove the camera lies.
Baudrillard, Jean, ‘The Procession of Simulacra’ in Brian Wallis, (ed.), Art after Modernism: Rethinking Representation, Boston: Godline, 1984 (253-81).
TRACK RECORD : BIOGRAPHY
Alison Jackson is a BAFTA and multi-award winning contemporary artist who explores the cult of celebrity – an extraordinary phenomenon created by the media and publicity industries. Jackson makes convincingly realistic work about celebrities doing things in private using lookalikes. Likeness becomes real and fantasy touches on the believable. She creates scenarios we have all imagined but never seen before – the hot images the iPhoners and the media can’t get. Jackson raises questions about whether we can believe what we see when we live in a mediated world of screens, imagery and internet. She comments on our voyeurism, on the power and seductive nature of imagery, and on our need to believe.
Her work has established wide respect for her as an incisive, funny and thought-provoking commentator on the burgeoning phenomenon of contemporary celebrity culture. Jackson works across all media and arts platforms in TV, books, branded content, press, social, and is widely exhibited in galleries and museums, attracting extensive interest in the press and on TV. Her images themselves have become just as much a part of popular culture as images of the real celebrities.
Most recently Jackson wrote and directed the successful topical, ‘celebrity’ magazine show opera for the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, with exclusive screenings on the BBC and Odeon cinemas.
2017 Haifa Museum of Art
2013 Alison Jackson: Stern Portfolio (Stern publishing/Teneus) 2011 Up the Aisle based on the Royal Wedding
2015 La Trashiata, Edinburgh Festival, BBC and Odeon
2016 Topical Fake Celebrity TV Series (In development)