Saturday, December 5, 2015

Authenticity: the genuine article?

Cured mullet roe with radish
I've a piece in the Canberra Times today: 'Authenticity: is it the genuine article?'

I'm discussing the quested grail of authenticity: when it makes sense, when it doesn't, and why some might chase it. A sample:
With food, clothing, art and music, there needn't be any appeal to authenticity. My Taipei meal might have been local cuisine, but what mattered to me was the taste, texture or colour; the experience itself, and its various pleasures. Locals do develop their own distinctive cultures – yet they also refine and revise these, often in response to exotic influences. 
Stasis is a poor recompense for supposed genuineness. I drank an excellent espresso in Taipei's Xinyi district, at a cafe with the surprising name of Woolloomooloo. This was neither Italy nor Sydney, but it combined culinary and architectural traditions from each. In this, it was neither authentic nor inauthentic – these categories were irrelevant. 
Authenticity can also be a poor guide to aesthetics. A world-class replica of a Matisse is no longer the unique first thing, but it offers the same pleasures of colour and line. This might be little comfort to a bamboozled collector, but it is fine for an art lover. 
In short, sometimes truthfulness or originality are not relevant: the experience is what counts.
(Photo: Diary of a Growing Boy)

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