Reality and Constructed Factual is a group exhibition presented as part of the 2013 Art Sheffield festival’s Parallel Projects programme. The exhibition presents new and existing work by a selection of early career artists from the UK and Germany including Bryan Dooley, Oliver Laric, Peles Empire, Hannah Perry, and David Raymond Conroy who will present a newly commissioned performance. The exhibition has been developed from research by Sheffield-based curator Chloe Reith.
Through a selection of digital film, photography, sculpture and installation Reality and Constructed Factual presents and investigates ideas of constructed realities, visual consumption, image economies and the productive potential of repetition in contemporary society. These themes are prominent in each of the selected artists’ work and resonate with the central work of the Art Sheffield festival: Joseph Beuys’ Wirtschafteswerte (Economic Values), 1980.
The exhibition features artists who reappropriate imagery from our heavily mediated society, re-presenting them in their work as a hybridized proliferation of samples, fragments and snapshots. Reflecting the way in which we consume, exchange and recycle images in the social commercial realm, these artists replicate and reproduce recognisable visual signifiers from the likes of film, advertising, the internet and television, often merging these together with excerpts of personal information, documentary footage or elements of factual reality. Through this process the work occupies an ambiguous intermediate space between reality and fiction creating a new narrative of its own. The artists’ activity points towards a new form of immaterial exchange and an image economy through which the act of sharing and repetition serves to flatten traditional hierarchies, determine new perspectives and pose questions about how we ascribe value and meaning.
The exhibition’s title is itself appropriated from the pre-existing: the genre of ‘constructed reality’ television. A mounting trend in light entertainment characterised by such shows as Made in Chelsea and The Only Way is Essex (or TOWIE as it is better known), the genre is known for its hybridised documentary style in which scripted scenarios are merged with real events in such a way that reality becomes indistinguishable from the fictitious situations inserted for entertainment value. This genre was officially denominated Reality and Constructed Factual by the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) for its awards.
The format of constructed reality television demonstrates a comfortable fluidity between real and manufactured situations, as well as the commodification of the everyday; a position that reflects much of the work presented here, and indeed our own contemporary social interactions. In both their televised and aesthetic form, constructed realities subtly displace the authority of the original and the power of the unique, devaluing absolutes and expanding the accepted real.
David Raymond Conroy (b. 1978. Lives and works in London.) Through a heightened self-awareness of our everyday interaction with mediated culture Conroy questions modes of representation and manufactured realities. His performances attempts to rationalize and deconstruct the mediated world, investigating how judgments are made and truth and value are ascribed.
Bryan Dooley (b. 1987, Leeds. Lives and works in London.) Dooley’s documentary photographs borrow heavily from the coded visual language of film narratives and the seductive glossy lexicon of commercial advertising. Reproduced cheaply as adhesive stickers and applied directly to the wall, the work is temporary in nature and denies a prolonged material existence.
Oliver Laric (b. 1981. Lives and works in Berlin, Germany.) Laric deals with historical and contemporary ideas relating to image hierarchies. His methods of production challenge the hierarchy of an authentic image suggesting a re-direction for image making, one in which bootlegs, copies and remixes displace ‘originals’ in an age of digital production. He uses montaged images and video clips, and appropriated items that explicate contemporary image circulation and their exchange through present and historical conditions.
Peles Empire (Katarina Stoever b. 1982 and Barbara Wolff b.1980, Germany. Live and work in London.) Peles Empire make installations that reframe, and reconfigure interiors from their only source – Peleş Castle in Romania, itself a pastiche of styles copied from remote originals. Their installations work as further framing devices for sculpture, collaboration and events. Peles Empire create a special world that hovers between past and present, confuses original and reproduction, and poses questions around the nature of the authentic and the copy, collapsing oppositions between real and ersatz.
Hannah Perry (b. 1984, Chester. Lives and works in London.) Perry’s film works collage together fragments of personal footage, film shot by strangers found online and clips variously taken from TV commercials, film or sitcoms. She explores cultural value, shared experience, personal identity and collective social memory as it is mediated through mass culture.