Bayart on Authenticity

edgebayart“This discourse on an entirely reconstituted, fantasized past is first of all a critical commentary on the present. In other words, it is bitterly disputed. Thus the restoration of works of art elicits virulent public debate, such as that which accompanied the restoration of the Sistine Chapel. The specialists themselves disagree. The Vatican’s prestigious workshops seek less to rediscover the original integrity or truth of the work, which is inevitably hypothetical, than to preserve it, and the restoration is governed by the requirements of maintenance…. [T]he work of restoration is marked by the taste and state of knowledge in the period in which it is carried out…. The preoccupation with ‘restoring the restorations’ has become sufficiently intense to lead today’s restorers to take care to make their own work reversible, in order to make that of their successors easier when the idea of the Beautiful and techniques have once again evolved…. Given these conditions, we must always analyse the genesis of the character of authenticity that we accord to a cultural practice or product.” (78-9)

edgesistine[This is one of an ongoing series of posts, quoting from Bayart’s The Illusion of Cultural Identity, that further documents the theoretical basis
on which Culture on the Edge is working.]

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