Authenticity in Anthropology
As many may agree the term authenticity is often referred to something that is “real,” “genuine,” and “true”. Authenticity is determined within all sorts of aspects ranging from art work in museums, literature, art performances, music and many more. In the Oxford English Dictionary authenticity is defined as “possessing original or inherent authority,” and, connected to this, “acting of itself, self-originated.” There are two types of authenticity discussed in our class which helps establish the meaning of authenticity more comprehensively. They are called nominal authenticity and expressive authenticity. Nominal authenticity elaborates on the correct identification of the origins, authorship, or provenance of an object, as well as an object of aesthetic experience being properly named. For example a well- known painting imitated and made by another artist than the original artist lacks the nominal authenticity because it has deficiencies of the correct identification. The artist stealing the original artist’s idea and attempted to take their ownership of what they had created is also considered forgery. Issues arising in regards to nominal authenticity are also very common among the music industry. Many times, some artist will take other artists music and make it their own. It may simply be the chorus of their song or the melody of the song. Often times, the original artist takes upon legal action and sue the artist whom they believed had replicated their work. Over time, the predicament of forgery and plagiarism leads to the popular display of the label copy right infringement. The copy right infringement is very common in the U.S and is seen on every CD covers or movies we purchase. Expressive authenticity discusses the object of authenticity as a true expression of an individual’s or a society’s values and beliefs. In further elaboration, one has the complete power over his/her choices or values displayed in their work. A performing artist acts faithfully to how he/she desires instead of the favor among others or replicating any other actor/actress. It is the dedication of staying true to one’s personal expression rather than notable tradition. In the article “The Art of the Trade” by Christopher B. Steiner, he elaborates on the authenticity of African Art. “The paradox, the dilemma of authenticity, is that to be experienced as authentic it must be marked as authentic, but when it is marked as authentic it is mediated, a sign of itself, and hence not authentic in the sense of unspoiled.” Authenticity is the genuine culture encounters in which individuals seek to achieve. To my understanding, Christopher B. Steiner intertwines authenticity of African art as being original within its context. When certain African art is labeled authentic it is then quickly respected in some sense in results to the importance of its value and preservation. Authenticity is highly important in the marketing culture. Everyone desires for the original product instead of the counterfeit. In order to tell what is fake from real there are Art Scholars who are authorized to dictate authentic vs non authentic pieces all around the world. In further discussion, Svasek argues the notion of the authentic promotes art specialist as knowledgeable critics who are able to judge the quality of good art. Svasek believes authenticity means to own “the real thing.” Some examples in the book Svasek gives which confirms the importance of authenticity are the Asafo flags and the yearning urges among art traders The Asafo flags were sold at a high price if the flags displayed some kind of damage from weather in results of darker colors bleeding creating stains and holes. Svasek discusses the extremes of particular art traders having an urge to snatch authentic jewelry pieces off of the women in certain tribes they encounter. The women prize their personal possessions and refuse to give up their jewelry.
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