Every essentialist analysis of the aesthetic disposition, the only socially accepted ‘right’ way of approaching the objects socially designated as works of art, that is, as both demanding and deserving to be approached with a specifically aesthetic intention capable of recognizing and constituting them as works of art, is bound to fail. Refusing to take account of the collective and individual genesis of this product of history which must be endlessly ‘re-produced’ by education, it is unable to recontruct its sole raison d’être, that is, the historical reason which underlies the arbitrary necessity of the institution. If the work of art is indeed, as Panofsky says, that which ‘demands to be experienced aesthetically’, and if any object, natural or artificial, can be perceived aesthetically, how can one escape the conclusion that it is the aesthetic intention which ‘makes the work of art’, or, to transpose a formula of Saussure’s, that it is the aesthetic point of view that creates the aesthetic object
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.
"with respect to different cultures or peoples that are to be toured, authenticity is a label attached to the visited cultures in terms of stereotyped images and expectations held by the members of tourist-sending society. Culler demonstrates this from a semiotic perspective. For example, what is the real Japaneseness is what has been marked; however, what is located in Japan without being marked is in a sense not the real Japaneseness and hence not worth seeing (Culler 1981:133). Authenticity is thus a projection of tourists| own beliefs, expectations, preferences, stereotyped images, and con- sciousness onto toured objects, particularly onto toured Others (Adams 1984; Bruner 1991; Duncan 1978; Laxson 1991; Silver 1993)."