False photographs have explosive power. Sometimes a viewer desires to see his opinion confirmed that he believes images, even if they show even unlikely situations. This is especially true when it comes to celebrities and a supposed character trait is revealed, so the image conveys the satisfactory thought: I've always thought so.
8 picturesPhoto gallery: Photo Fake News
The photographer Alison Jackson is therefore very easy to manipulate Trump haters. Or Lady Diana fans. Or followers of Kim Kardashian. Because her pictures blur the boundaries between the just possible and the unthinkable. It shows Donald Trump spreading his legs over Miss Mexico. Kanye West and Kim Kardashian filming the birth of one of their children from a television crew. Queen Elisabeth II taking a family selfie and Lady Diana holding her middle finger in the camera.
"Truth is dead"
The award-winning works by Jackson can now be seen in Vienna in the exhibition "Fake Truth". Jackson has been working with a team of professional lookalikes for many years. "They're dressed up to be real, and then I put them in scenes we've all imagined but never seen," Jackson says. The viewer immediately believes that he has access to something private.
Hardly anyone is safe from Jackson's fake productions; she has them all: Boris Johnson, Vladimir Putin, Brangelina, the Kardashian-West family, Mick Jagger and Marilyn Monroe.
The images are more than crude British satire: they reveal that our hunger for celebrity news, our greed for private details and our credulity make phenomena like Donald Trump possible in the first place. After all, the power of the images has long been exploited for their self-staging: It is in the nature of photography to be deceptive, the photographer told the Austrian newspaper "Der Standard" at the opening of the exhibition in Vienna. There is no way for viewers to find out the truth. "Truth is dead. We can never look behind the scenes of public figures, only see the part they present to us." Even politicians, according to Jackson, were no longer selected by rational standards, but by the "wow effect".
The Trumps and Kardashian Wests of this world, according to their reading, may even do more than a stinky finger like Lady Di, whose staging made Alison Jackson famous twenty years ago. Pictures replace the text, the need for privacy replaces the political - this is also the development that Jackson wants to trace with her photos. The voyeuristic viewer is presented to himself.
Exhibition : Alison Jackson Fake Truth, WestLicht Vienna, until January 26, 2020