Alison Jackson: Seeing is Deceiving

16 April - 23 May 2008

Alison Jackson's 2008 exhibition Seeing is Deceiving presented a series of newly executed unpublished paparazzi-style photographs of look-alikes posing as celebrities, alongside images from her book 'Confidential', published by Taschen 2007. These images present the viewer with an intriguing puzzle, whilst Jackson further questions the authenticity of the ubiquitous fly-on-the-wall images of 'celebrities' that have infiltrated contemporary media.


"The images highlight the difference between what we see and what we imagine. We are driven by our inherent voyeurism and our need to believe in simple truths to accept the image's violent demands." - Alison Jackson.


Celebrities are modern-day heroes and villains upon which we project our own fantasies. Relating to Beckham entirely through images we can make him into sex symbol, family man, gay icon, football hero or lad. Celebrities are the icons of contemporary folk religion; the Royal Family, Madonna, Posh and Becks, Paris, Elton, Jagger and Bush fascinate and intrigue. Contemporary portraits of celebrities and Royals correspond to the religious iconography of the past. We 'believe' these pictures portray the whole 'truth' about the subject. For example, Marilyn Monroe's legacy is as the naïve sex goddess, whereas Britney Spears is portrayed and perceived as white trash.


Jackson's work is about simulation: her images are not fakes, but momentarily substitute the 'real'. These simulations examine the difference between 'true' and 'false', 'real' and 'imaginary', rendering the 'real' subject redundant.  The objective person pales into insignificance compared to the power of the subjective image. Jackson deliberately creates a temporary confusion with the use of look-alikes. We are convinced by the image that we see something real as opposed to a construction. The use of celebrity or look-alike becomes irrelevant to the viewer, since the photographs reflect a mental picture that already exists in the public imagination.


Alison Jackson studied Fine Art Sculpture at Chelsea College of Art, and Fine Art Photography at The Royal College of Art in London, and has exhibited extensively both in the UK and internationally.