TO AUTHENTICITY… AND BEYOND!

TO AUTHENTICITY… AND BEYOND!
TO AUTHENTICITY… AND BEYOND!

There has been a striking increase in the use of the word ‘authenticity’ over the past few years: in newspapers and other media, in various forms of discourse, and especially also in discussions of art and artists. The precise definition of the concept is not always clear, however. ‘Being authentic’ appears to be a general value or value judgement. The idea being that whatever is authentic is a cut above the rest: original, pure, real. 

In the 18th century, philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau turned his back on manmade society and withdrew into nature to find himself. In contrast to the rationally organized society that restrained the individual in a normative straightjacket, he idealized sublime nature. In the overwhelming and unspoiled power of nature, Rousseau began to discover the unspoiled origins of humanity. This new path of the authentic self would become a leitmotif of modern self-understanding for centuries.
While Rousseau’s self-liberation was driven by rebellion and emancipation, the search for one’s true self has now becoming mired in an obsession with individuality. While Rousseau went in search of inner transformation outside society, authenticity has become an imperative of the system, fed by social media and politics. Being authentic is increasingly becoming a question of outward display and self-marketing.
The market is skilfully capitalizing on this development: in neoliberal society, an authentic lifestyle is a question of the choices that you make as a consumer. And it works exceptionally well: artisanal products are just a little tastier, unspoiled travel destinations just a little more attractive, traditional customs just a little more meaningful, reality TV just a little more exciting, and participatory art just a little more real.
But what does self-liberation mean when we are so effortlessly led by whatever the market touts to us? What is originality when we buy the same authentic products in droves or strive for the same authentic lifestyle. In the urge to be ourselves, we risk becoming increasingly similar. And if this is the result, what do we think to find in this urge for the ‘real’ or the ‘original’? When does the desire for authenticity become collective nostalgia, conservatism, or fundamentalism? And is this desire not an enormous paradox anyway in a digital age when we simply click and swipe from one artificial, simulated reality to the next?

In the growing critique of Western, modern thought, an increasing number of voices are calling for a revision of historical and philosophical constructions. They invite us to ‘un-learn’ patterns of thought and narratives and to be receptive to whatever this exercise produces. What is more, this process reveals a desire for ‘realness’, in an age in which reality often no longer feels real or sincere. Throughout the season, we are bringing artists and intellectuals together to focus on this desire. Where might the search for truth and origins take us, if we are prepared to look beyond authenticity?

 

Image: Josh, from the seriesWill They Sing Like Raindrops or Leave Me Thirsty © Max Pinckers.
The series was commissioned by EUROPALIA for the Indomania exhibition at BOZAR.

‘Not constantly to do, just to be’

A conversation with Ivana Müller

‘Not constantly to do, just to be’
‘Not constantly to do, just to be’

article

Four wandering travellers penetrate further into the forest and lose their way completely. In Conversation out of place, choreographer Ivana Müller continues her exploration of new ways of dealing with time and imagination: ‘The attempt to collectively slow down time is the most political part of the piece.’ A conversation with Ivana Müller.

'Wees jezelf!' | Rudi Laermans

Over Rousseau, zelfexpressie en de hedendaagse authenticiteitscultuur

'Wees jezelf!' | Rudi Laermans
'Wees jezelf!' | Rudi Laermans

article

Samen met kunstenaars en denkers zoomt het Kaaitheater tijdens seizoen 2018-2019 in op het hedendaagse verlangen naar authenticiteit. Aan socioloog Rudi Laermans vroegen we om een tekst te schrijven die het begrip authenticiteit belicht vanuit een historisch, sociologisch en filosofisch perspectief.

Laurence Van Ypersele

[CANCELLED] Authenticiteit en de Groote Oorlog

talk

[CANCELLED] Authenticiteit en de Groote Oorlog
[CANCELLED] Authenticiteit en de Groote Oorlog

Kaaitheater

08.12.2018

Thomas Bellinck / ROBIN

[CANCELLED] Memento Park

theatre

[CANCELLED] Memento Park
[CANCELLED] Memento Park

Kaaitheater

08.12 – 09.12.2018

Mogobe Ramose

Conversation #3: on Ubuntu philosophy

talk

Conversation #3: on Ubuntu philosophy
Conversation #3: on Ubuntu philosophy

Kaaicafé

17.12.2018

Afua Hirsch

Conversation #4: on race, identity, and belonging

talk

Conversation #4: on race, identity, and belonging
Conversation #4: on race, identity, and belonging

Kaaistudio's

21.01.2019

Julian Warner

On Racial Authenticity

talk

On Racial Authenticity
On Racial Authenticity

Kaaistudio's

25.01.2019

Els Dietvorst, Dirk Roofthooft & Aurelie Di Marino

MEMENTO MORI! !IROM OTNEMEM

theatre

MEMENTO MORI! !IROM OTNEMEM
MEMENTO MORI! !IROM OTNEMEM

Kaaistudio's

21.02 – 23.02.2019

SYMPOSIUM

The School of Speculative Documentary

debate

talk

The School of Speculative Documentary
The School of Speculative Documentary

Kaaistudio's

25.02.2019

Rolando Vázquez

Authenticity, Decoloniality, and the End of the Contemporary

talk

Authenticity, Decoloniality, and the End of the Contemporary
Authenticity, Decoloniality, and the End of the Contemporary

Kaaitheater

02.03.2019

Nina Power

Conversation #5: on the contemporary portrayal of women

talk

Conversation #5: on the contemporary portrayal of women
Conversation #5: on the contemporary portrayal of women

Kaaitheater

08.03.2019

Thijs Lijster

Conversation #6: over de grote vlucht inwaarts

talk

Conversation #6: over de grote vlucht inwaarts
Conversation #6: over de grote vlucht inwaarts

Kaaistudio's

01.04.2019

The Political Party

Alternative Election Show

debate

Alternative Election Show
Alternative Election Show

Kaaitheater

30.04.2019

Jed Martin

Autoportrait/Zelfportret

theatre

Autoportrait/Zelfportret
Autoportrait/Zelfportret

Kaaistudio's

20.09 – 21.09.2018

Maarten Doorman

On Authenticity and the True Self

talk

On Authenticity and the True Self
On Authenticity and the True Self

Kaaistudio's

21.09.2018

Didier Eribon

Conversations #1: on 'Retour à Reims' and the Class System

talk

Conversations #1: on 'Retour à Reims' and the Class System
Conversations #1: on 'Retour à Reims' and the Class System

Kaaitheater

24.09.2018

Katja Dreyer

Ophelia comes to Brooklyn

theatre

Ophelia comes to Brooklyn
Ophelia comes to Brooklyn

Kaaistudio's

25.09 – 26.09.2018

Elke Van Campenhout

Authenticity and Spirituality

talk

Authenticity and Spirituality
Authenticity and Spirituality

Kaaistudio's

28.09.2018

Juan Domínguez

My Only Memory

performance

My Only Memory
My Only Memory

Kaaistudio's

28.09 – 29.09.2018

Jan Steen

Being in Playing

talk

Being in Playing
Being in Playing

Kaaitheater

29.09.2018

Lisaboa Houbrechts / Kuiperskaai

Hamlet

theatre

Hamlet
Hamlet

Kaaitheater

29.09.2018

Petra Van Brabandt

To Heat By Melting

talk

To Heat By Melting
To Heat By Melting

Kaaitheater

16.11.2018

Leslie Thornton, Miriam Rasch & Rudi Laermans

A Philosophers Walk/Talk on the Sublime

talk

film

A Philosophers Walk/Talk on the Sublime
A Philosophers Walk/Talk on the Sublime

Kaaitheater

21.11.2018

Ivana Müller

Conversations out of place

theatre

Conversations out of place
Conversations out of place

Kaaitheater

21.11 – 22.11.2018

Annie Dorsen

The Great Outdoors

performance

The Great Outdoors
The Great Outdoors

KANAL – Centre Pompidou

22.11 – 25.11.2018

Bruno Latour & Frédérique Aït Touati

INSIDE

lecture performance

performance

talk

INSIDE
INSIDE

Kaaitheater

24.11.2018

Philipp Blom

Conversation #2: A History of the Self

talk

Conversation #2: A History of the Self
Conversation #2: A History of the Self

Kaaistudio's

03.12.2018