Alison Jackson: Truth is dead
Alison Jackson uses actors and lookalikes to stage simulated paparazzi and documentary-style shots of famous celebrities such as Donald Trump, Marilyn Monroe, the British Royal Family, Justin Bieber and Angela Merkel. Jackson’s images reflect the longings of their viewers, toying with their perceptions and challenging photography’s claim to objectivity. With around 80 photographs and videos from her most important series of work, the NRW-Forum Düsseldorf presents the British photographer’s first institutional solo exhibition in Germany from 3 March to 14 May 2023.
As a society, we are obsessed with the lives of celebrities: stars are hounded by the paparazzi and the tabloids follow their every step. The once private sphere has become a public spectacle; the lives of others are packaged as a consumable product. We ask ourselves: What is real and what is staged? And is this distinction even still relevant? In 2020, British photographer Alison Jackson gave her drastic view: “The truth is dead. Nothing we are shown can be trusted, everything can be faked and nothing is authentic. What does this knowledge do to us?”
Jackson employs actors or lookalikes to produce convincingly realistic paparazzi shots or documentary-style footage of the intimate, often salacious, yet imagined private lives of celebrities. Donald Trump, the British Royal Family, Marilyn Monroe, Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, Elton John, Justin Bieber, Jack Nicholson, Rihanna, Boris Johnson, David and Victoria Beckham, and Angela Merkel are just a few of the household names featured repeatedly in her work. Jackson will also create new material for the exhibition at the NRW-Forum, which will be presented alongside previously unseen works.
Jackson’s images are acts of deception, imitation, provocation, proving that we cannot trust our own eyes when it comes to photography. But perhaps her fabrications also represent a deeper, even more radical truth: as they grapple with the fraught relationship between the private and the public, they invariably reflect the longings and illusions of their audience. Sometimes hyperreal, obscene, or titillating, these photographic parodies are always entertaining and humorous.
Alison Jackson was born in Southsea, England in 1960 and studied sculpture and photography at the Royal College of Art and Chelsea College of Art and Design in London. She won a BAFTA (British Academy Film Award) for her series Double Take (2001–2003); other accolades include receiving the International Center of Photography’s Infinity Award in 2004. Her portraits, sculptures, films and videos have been exhibited worldwide, including at the Tate Modern in London (2010), the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2011), and the Centre Pompidou in Paris (2014).
The exhibition is curated by Anke Degenhard, who previously realised the exhibition Martin Schoeller at the NRW-Forum in 2020.
The image material listed may be used freely for thematic reporting (in print and online media as well as on social media channels) and provided that the photo credits given are cited. Six weeks after the end of the exhibition, the free right of use expires.