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CULTURE
Alison Jackson
by Evan Orensten
on 06 April 2006
alison_jackson.jpg

Like Garry Winogrand crossed with Jeff Wall, Alison Jackson creates jarring pseudo-documentary photos. Instead of stills cinematically staging the serenity of a night janitor mopping or a chaotic car crash, Jackson stages serene chaos with counterfeit celebrities caught in private moments. In one piece, look-alikes of David Beckham and Prime Minister Tony Blair talk poolside. Blair stands in a Speedo, Beckham is wrapped in a women’s spa robe. Another image from that series is seen above, with the "Prime Minister" frolicking in the pool amidst a wardrobe malfunction.

Regardless of who the person she is shooting actually is, Jackson does well in capturing a universal fleshiness that emerges in private moments. Many spy on the subject, as a from-the-back photo of Prince Harry trying on a crown while standing nude in front of a mirror. In others. a subject faces the camera as if the picture was a companion to a Vanity Fair gut spill or more on the mark, an Old Masters portrait.

Private, her popular book from 2003, features a collection of Jackson’s humorous yet sad commentary, like the Beckham clone, this time in the bathroom pulling down his pants to rubberneck at his name tattooed on his bum. The buns of real David Beckham are, without a doubt, more taut than the artist’s model. Like recognizing flaws on a Canal Street Coach purse, noticing everyman flabbiness is part of the game in her work. Throughout, work rips away at celebrity obsession and notions of authenticity in photojournalism.

Expect more of the same in her new book, out this summer from Taschen, simply titled Alison Jackson.

Contributed by Kristopher Irizarry

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