Daylight Magazine contributor Sarah Pickering will be exhibiting her installation of photographs entitled Art and Antiquities at the Belgian gallery Meessen De Clercq. Ms. Pickering’s examination of the photograph’s relationship to ‘the real’ and the concept of authenticity (propelled by her research of the notorious art forger Sean Greenhalgh), is further aided by her access to Scotland Yard’s Fakes and Forgeries archive.
Excerpt from Arts and Antiquities Press Release:
Pickering’s work often turns on photography’s ambiguous relationship to the real. On the one hand, the indexical veracity of her photographs insist that what we see (now) was really there (then); on the other hand, her uncanny subjects urge us to question the conditions of their framing. Her decision for this work to present The Faun, falsely attributed to Gauguin, via its reproduction in six separate fine art catalogues did more than convey the reach of Greenhalgh’s trickery; it also undermined the very processes and structures by which authenticity is established and maintained. Almost a century ago, Walter Benjamin observed that, with mechanical reproduction, the aura associated with the ‘original’ art object is radically superseded by the political. By showing art as already corrupted by its transmission via reproducible media, Art and Antiquities reinvigorated Benjamin’s suggestion, and intimated the reach but also the fallibility of authority more broadly. This understanding of the arts as socially and politically inscribed has surfaced in earlier works, not least Public Order (2002-5). The first of Pickering’s projects to engage the authorities, this series of photographs witnesses sites of police riot-training. In their description of eerily vacant streets, lined only with building facades, the images simultaneously expose and destabilise the state apparatuses for maintaining civil order by lifting the curtain on the scene of rehearsal. In Art and Antiquities, Pickering employed reenactment, rather than the rehearsal, to defamiliarize and thus reveal usually imperceptible mechanisms of power. This shift in emphasis is apt given the photograph’s always-past tense (albeit a past deferred to unknowable, future viewers), and as such permitted greater reflexivity, not least in enabling Pickering to implicate and problematize her own working processes and status as Fine Art photographer.