I loved Jean Fisher’s In Search of the “Inauthentic.” I think she was very concise and effective with her writing. As far as content goes, exploring the authentic is something that we do on a daily basis but don’t realize. We’re all trying to represent our true selves, whether that’s with our clothing choices and music playlists or our decisions regarding our career and classes. Everything we do says or reflects something about us either back onto ourselves or onto our surroundings.
Keeping this in mind, museum exhibits bear a huge responsibility in reflecting a culture within a show. Viewing art imprints the viewer as well as its surroundings–the placement of a piece within the gallery and the existence of it alone is an image of the culture it comes from and the person who created it. Western perspective, with its obsession to collect and document (Fisher, 333), so easily destroys the human breath behind the art and its original, authentic purpose that just is.
Is authenticity a term that has arisen out of Western ego-centrism? I think there is a strong argument that validates the “yes.” The West, out of documenting and collecting, has decided what is real and what is not in accordance to its ability to reflect on a reality but not necessarily validate it. This “sanitization of history” (Fisher, pg 333), especially within Native American culture, is what has allowed the consciousness of the West to keep colonizing without cultural repercussion. After all, if things are only as real as you let them be (authenticity defined by the West allows everything that is not threatening or “truer” than itself), then its easy to keep a perspective of dominance and reconcile harmful actions against the Other without guilt.
Michaela Stock, Hope College 2020.