Factually Real Illusions
Factually Real Illusions was an exhibition featuring 25 international and highly acclaimed artists held at CHELSEA Cookhouse in London. The exhibition took its name from Guy Debord’s seminal work of 1967, The Society of the Spectacle. In this text, Debord describes the spectacle as an inverted image of society in which relations between commodities have supplanted relations between people. Human interaction has been commoditised within society, an authentic social life of the people replaced by a mere reflection; a factually real illusion. In Debord’s view, the history of the social life can be understood as a gradual decline from ‘being’ into ‘having’ and from ‘having’ into simply ‘appearing’. If in society, as Debord suggests, ‘passive identification with the spectacle supplants genuine activity’, how one can break free from complicity and offer an alternative?
Factually Real Illusions constructed an ambiguous situation. An exhibition masquerading as production line, reading room as artwork, exhibition as site of production. In a subtle inversion of display conventions, the curatorial processes were exposed, the exhibition as a site for cultural production and non-passive interaction become visible. Artists who use the vehicles and vernacular of capitalism and who work within society’s structural frameworks, and those who interrogate a reading of such transactions had been invited to participate in Factually Real Illusions.
The traditional office space, the nucleus of the spectacle, acted as the central hub of the show from which all activities flowed. The office allowed you to interact with artworks directly and file your own publication. From here you could explore the exhibition, and challenge the society of the spectacle.