Strange Antiques from the Post Truth World
Post Truth Realism is an artistic style that blurs the lines between what is real and what is not by presenting a false reality as realistically as possible. This deliberate deception is meant to draw attention to the Post Truth phenomena where facts and truth are distorted or dismissed in order to push an agenda. This damaging political culture has intensified in recent years with the election of Donald Trump in the United States and was named word of the year by Oxford dictionary in 2016 for its prevalence in the Brexit debate.
Alternative Artifacts is Jeff Bartels' first series of Post Truth Realism paintings which features strange antiques that never existed. The name is derived from a White House official who described falsehoods told by the Trump administration as "alternative facts". The series stretches and bends the truth about our past in order to bring attention to deceptions going on in our world today. Each object has a surreal quality that is meticulously painted which causes the viewer to question the authenticity of what they are seeing. The artifacts appear to be absurd but they are presented with such precise detail that their stories can almost be believed.
Each antique is surrounded by a simple background which removes any point of reference for the viewer to hold on to. This singular focus on the object and nothing else mirrors the practice of cherry picking facts in order to push a falsehood. The meaning behind the series is purposefully opaque when initially viewing the paintings. The viewer isn’t aware that the whole point of the collection is to mislead them. The objects vary from silly and nonsensical like a diving helmet wearing headphones or a motorcycle powered by a French horn to darker and more disturbing like a corkscrew syringe or tattoo drill. The one thing they all have in common is that none of them are real, they are all fake.
In a world with access to more information both real and fabricated then at any time in history, how do we know what to believe? In a world where people live in an echo chamber of their own making, how does the truth get through? What is real and what is not? Alternative Artifacts is the Post Truth Art for the Post Truth Era.