Alison Jackson


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).


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
2016 Seoul Museum of Contemporary Art
2016 Villa Rot, Germany
2015 NRW/Forum, Düsseldorf, Germany
2014 Centre Pompidou, Paparazzi, Paris, France
2014 Schirn Museum, Paparazzi, Frankfurt, Germany
2012 Shizaru, This is London, Mayfair, UK 2012 Paris Photo, Le Louvre, Paris 2011 Ben Brown Fine Arts, London, UK
2011 The Hayward Gallery, The Royal Family
2011 SFMOMA, Exposed 2011 KunstHalle Amsterdam, Peeping Tom
2010 Tate Modern, Voyeurism
2010 Tate Britain, Rude Britannia, London
2008 Hamiltons Gallery, London
2008 Liverpool Biennial International Festival of
Contemporary Art New Art Gallery, UK 2008 Musée de l’Elysée, Lausanne 2007 Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA), London 2005 Kunstforum, Vienna 2004 Hayward Gallery, London 2003 Le Mois de la Photo, Montreal 2003 International Center of Photography (ICP), New York


2013 Alison Jackson: Stern Portfolio (Stern publishing/Teneus) 2011 Up the Aisle based on the Royal Wedding
2008 Confidential (Taschen)
2004 Private (Penguin)


2015 La Trashiata, Edinburgh Festival, BBC and Odeon


2016 Topical Fake Celebrity TV Series (In development)
2013 Sky Arts and Satire / Tim Marlow
2012 Channel 4: Dispatches – Nuclear War Games
2012 BBC: Celebrity BitchSlap News 2011 & 2012 Sky: ‘The Alison Jackson Review’
2010 BBC Historical Series 2009 ITV1: The South Bank Show – ‘Alison Jackson on Warhol’ 2008 BBC2: Through the Keyhole guest home owner 2007 Channel 4: Blaired Vision, Sven: The Coach, The Cash & his Lovers and Tony Blair, Rock Star 2006 Channel 4: 2005 Channel 4: The Secret Election and Not the Royal Wedding 2004 NBC: Saturday Night Live – Weekend update with Tina Fey
2004-2002 BBC2: Doubletake. Created, directed, written and produced by Alison Jackson, BAFTA Award