George W. Bush firing at a poster of Putin, Queen Elizabeth II reading a book on the loo, David Beckham frying fish sticks wearing underpants serving his victoria — photos every paparazzi is dreaming of. Well they’re fake and the creation of Alison Jackson, a British contemporary artist whose photographs are “convincingly realistic work about celebrities doing things in private using look-alikes,” says her bio. “Likeness becomes real and fantasy touches on the believable. She creates scenarios we have all imagined but never seen — the hot images the media can’t get.”
This is not a lurid topic. It’s an in fact deeply sociocritical one. Jackson’s work, an intimate look into the private lives of famous people, is nothing but a fantasy we create with our own minds. Sometimes she hires doppelgänger to make the images look more realistic. Most of her images look like hastily shot, blurred snaps. In reality the creation of these fakes involves painstaking work in the studio and post-processing at the computer.
Jackson’s creations are brash, she never ever though intends to ridicule a celebrity. She makes them look like ordinary people who do and like the stuff we common mortals do.
We pretend to know who these people are. We just know them from the photos we’ve seen and the stories we’ve heard — stories that might be as invented and constructed as Jackson’s paparazzi shots.
“Real” photos and her fakes alike, says Jackson, only show part of the whole story. “The truth is,” says Jackson, “we have no clue at all how everyday life of a celebrity looks like.” In other words: we seem to know them but have no clue who they really are.
Her career started with the death of Lady Diana. Jackson was fascinated by the public outpouring of grief that paralyzed London — and realized how photographs transform people into objects. She asked herself if anyone would even realize if she’d produce an image with a double of Di, her boyfriend Dodi and a baby that could have been theirs.
Jackson: “Were they in love? Would they have married? Was she pregnant and thus killed? That’s what people were thinking about. And exactly this I wanted to express with my photo.”
Her humor is as British as her preferred targets are, often poking fun at current social and political events. She doesn’t know any sacred cows. Well she’s doing no harm to anyone, or does she. Her work is simple cognition by association.
Jackson hasn’t been sued yet by any of the celebs she’s faking — and keeps on developing the art. Of late she combines real people with doubles, such as Elton John with the British Queen. She keeps on looking for look-alikes, like the other day when she discovered a man who looked like Nicolas Cage himself.
She approached and complimented him what a brilliant double he was. Instead of smiling he seemed to lose his cool and was clearly annoyed by Jackson. Turned out it was Cage himself.
For more visit www.alisonjackson.com.