Artifice defines all artistic creation. It has also come to be associated with the contrived, the constructed, the inauthentic and the unnatural. In this exhibition an exploration of the uncertainty of perception and the status of the artificial as the antithesis of ‘nature’ or ‘truth’ is central to the approach of the artists included.

Narrative provides the framework within which reality and fiction merge: in the large-scale blackboard drawings by Tacita Dean, in which allusive links to actual histories are created; in Simon Starling’s film Short Story, Brief History in which a silver fork is transformed into its natural material and then metamorphoses into another form of artifice. Truth and fiction mingle easily through the mediating device of the camera lens. The limitless potential for digital falsification in film is exploited by Stephen Murphy in his short sequences derived from photographic or fictional sources. In Adam Chodzko’s double screen projection Nightvision lighting technicians have been used to create a composite vision of heaven. The mechanics of filmmaking are dismantled and its methods used to produce a fleeting moment of wonderment in the fusion between reality and artifice.

Illusions are created using props and sound effects. Graham Gussin’s Studio (Dry Ice) shows the artist is surrounded by swirls of dry ice, suggesting a scene of mystical occurrence or potential transformation, while Jane and Louise Wilson use props or architectural elements to convey the impression of incident or narrative.

The dynamic between the natural and the artificial exists in the juxtaposition of materials in the sculptures of Siobhan Hapaska, while Simon Starling’s fragmentary assemblages incorporating context and location blends elements from the natural world with objects of cultural resonance.

A brochure with texts by Ann Gallagher, the curator of the exhibition was published by the Deste Foundation to accompany the exhibition.