Alison Jackson

Jackson is known for her satirical and realistic photographs inspired by the private lives of public figures and royalty. She combines what is already known about an individual, with her own understanding of public sentiment and idealism, and recreates a plausible yet imaginative photographic portrait.

A useful self observation for artists to achieve is seeing where the truth in their practice disappears and illusion takes over. Its not as easy as one would think, many of the causes for an artist to be creative in the first place, ferment slowly in the subtle mists of their ego, desire, sensitive observations and ambition. Occasionally an artist has the necessary objectivity to make a clear distinction between reality and illusion in their work. This phenomena seems to be a key to successful communication of their ideas through their artistic process. Alison Jackson is an artist who has carved a successful career out of an acute awareness of this distinction. The introduction on her own website leads with the lines: “My pictures ask where does the truth end and the lies begin…where the subjective triumphs over the objective.”

Jackson is well known for her elaborate staging of celebrity lookalike models, in scenes which the mainstream press never had the opportunity to participate in. Her work imaginatively and satirically explores how photography and the cult of the celebrity have transformed our relationship to what is ‘real’. Her photographic portraits, life-like sculptures, films and videos cast uncannily styled actors into an entirely fathomable projection of a future that could have been; or the intimate, often salacious, imagined private moments of media icons such as Diana Princess of Wales, the Queen of England, Marilyn Monroe, George Bush, Brad and Angelina, and David Beckham. Jackson’s productions stress-test the implicit belief that a photograph can capture a frozen moment of ‘truth’.

‘At best, a photograph of a celebrity reproduces something authentic only at the very moment the shutter clicks’ says the artist ‘yet we have been teased into giving these moments an absolute and unquestioned authority. However, what we actually do is create a narcissistic circle where we assert our control over the object of desire: we transform our celebrities into what we want. This whole projective process is further exaggerated by our capacity for fantasy. In this way, my productions, charged with desire, have become more real than the real life model they are based on, evolving into a ‘mental image’ rather than a direct record of reality’.

Although Jackson is a harsh critic of the media, she has interestingly become the media herself. Acting as an audacious and sometimes misleading informer. Her subversive form of social commentary strips away the veneer of PR and hype that prop up the celebrities that come under her scrutiny. Unlike the paparazzi photo, where the actual real celebrity is caught on film in a frozen moment in time, Jackson’s productions use the celebrity aura to address a deeper universal lineage, the archetypal characters that define the history of human identity and the often humorous struggle of how they cope in the age of mass mediation.

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