Faux Realities by Signe Pierce: What does it mean to be simultaneously fake and real, false and factual?

In the short time since its inception in 2015, Annka Kultys Gallery has brought thought-provoking exhibitions to East London that have generated a dialogue surrounding new, digital techniques being utilized by contemporary artists. Its June exhibition Faux Realities, showcasing the photography of artist Signe Pierce, proved to be of no exception. The exhibition title perfectly encompasses Pierce’s signature aesthetic. As ‘faux’ is synonymous to ‘artificial,’ a contradictory dichotomy is formed when placed next ‘reality.’ What does it mean to be simultaneously fake and real, false and factual? These are the questions that are elicited in the viewer during the exhibition, as Pierce’s photographs exemplify this tension between artificiality and authenticity.

Pierce’s work captures the iridescent hues of neon found in places like L.A., Las Vegas and New York City, creating seemingly unnatural scenes of doorways and street signs, leaving the viewer wondering if the photographs were manipulated or fabricated. Glossy and reflective surfaces from objects like store windows, motorcycle chrome and icing glaze create the hyperreal world where Pierce’s images exist. Identifying herself as a “Reality Artist,” her work explores what can be perceived as the real and the virtual, collapsing the border between the two.

Pierce’s undeniably enticing images radiate with vivid, unnatural colours, creating the kind of glow often found in digital devices. This unique element became enhanced by the intimacy of the gallery’s space and the multi-coloured lighting illuminating the exhibition. The photographs displayed in Faux Realities were hung in a variation of grids that brilliantly mirrored those found in social media platforms such as Instagram. It is as if images that once exclusively lived in the virtual realm, have now materialized in physical reality within the gallery space. Annka Kulty Gallery explains, “The images were born online and have been made ‘real.’” Encountering these images in this way sheds light on the inevitable presence of the virtual in our lives and the way it continues to alter how we see and interact with images today.

Review by Christina Nafziger for ArtMaze Mag.