And although we tend to relate the concept of authenticity to the notion of time, it’s also an ethnocentric idea that was created out of a Western construct of art from the 19th century. So with “Cynopolis” I was trying to explore the awareness of this phenomenon by adapting the same idea to the way African and Asian culture has been appropriated in Western art and how guilt had become integrated into the aesthetic of works produced during colonialism. You can definitely see this phenomenon in Cubism and Surrealism and the way those movements appropriated African and Polynesian culture while lots of people were being tortured, pillaged and dispossessed. The French Surrealist Michel Leiris’s description in “L’Afrique fantôme” of how he stole a sacred sculpture is a good example of such ambivalence towards the realities of exploitation.

I guess this comes from a deeper curiosity in finding something familiar in something foreign.

I think we are only able to perceive the exotic through the familiar. The creation of the exotic is a familiar process. The exotic is the way “otherness” is transformed into something familiar, and so the exotic cliché becomes more familiar than the actual reality. In fact, these clichés really belong to Western culture, and the real “other” and experience of “otherness” can only be accessed once you have accepted the idea of delusion and disappointment. You know human beings are still like kids, we take pleasure in hearing the stories we have been told before.

Camille Henrot on Authenticity and Exot…