Downtown Archæologies


by Jesús

David Bowie shooting music video for
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The nature of authenticity is a concept in psychology, existentialist philosophy, and aesthetics (the arts). Authenticity is how people grapple with representations of the self through different mediums of expression: film, performance art, photography, literature, and even social interactions. Works of postmodernism often posits a series of questions: what role does authenticity and identity play in art? Is the nature of identity purely performative? What is “real” and what is “fake” and is there ever truly a separation between the two?

In music, it is generally favorable to be seen as “authentic,” which here can mean two things: 1)the musician is presenting the truest version of themselves on stage or through their music and 2) the musician is staying true to the conventions of a genre. These are rigid, socially constructed requirements and to deviate from authenticity can result in being labeled a poseur. For example, David Bowie was often condemned for his shape-shifting personas and being unable to seemingly remain one version of himself. This just shows the flimsy nature of authenticity and the impossible quest to obtain it. The self is always mediated.