Now that we’re in a post-truth, alternative facts universe where everything is great, amazing, really really great and yuge ‘cause the President sez so. Hell, who needs facts in this new world anyway? They’re difficult, troublesome and damnably inconvenient. The President ain’t got time for that. No, sir. People want nice. They want cuddly, comforting, fluffy things—not cold hard facts. The Prez knows that and he’s gonna tell us how it’s gonna be. “It’s gonna be great, really great and no one can even imagine how truly great this greatness is gonna be.” Nope.
But you know, I think that maybe we need some art for this truly great post-truth/alt facts universe—something that captures how things can be interpreted to fit a new purpose. Maybe a bit like these photographs by Polish artist Weronika Gęsicka?
There’s something about Gęsicka’s work that seems—well, at least to me—to fit our new alterno-world. Like the way in which Weronika takes old American publicity shots from fifties and sixties archives and manipulates them to create a “new history.” She primarily works with found photographs and images creating art that explores memory and its mechanism, scientific and pseudoscientific theories, mnemonics and the various disorders related to it.
Of course, the big difference between the two is that Weronika makes art that raises important questions about our conceptions of reality, while el Presidente is attempting to enforce his own deluded fantasies on everyone else’s reality. (Quite an artform in its own right, one might argue. It’s only a few days in, let’s see how long it can last.)
Weronika takes one found picture then tries “to erase, as much as [she] can, the difference between an original image and [her] own alteration, [thus] creating a completely new history at the same time.”
Family scenes, vacation souvenirs, everyday life, suspended anywhere between truth and fiction. It is hard to figure out whether they are spontaneous or entirely staged.
Who are, or were, these people in the images? Are they actors playing happy families, or real persons whose photos were put up for sale by the image bank?
And when finished:
These photos, modified in various ways, are wrapped in new contexts: our recollections of people and situations are transformed and gradually blur.
These altered pictures are funny, disturbing and strangely unnerving. Weronika’s photographic nostalgia makes the viewer aware something is not quite right and leaves you wondering if ever will be again.