WHY? Starting point was the criticism of inauthenticity and lacking fandom of people wearing T-Shirts of musicians they don’t know or whose concerts they never visited. Whether Millennials wearing ACDC or Justin Bieber wearing a Nirvana shirt – as soon as there seems to be a discrepancy the person and the artist, he or she can’t be a “true fan” or “authentic” anymore. Although the fan-criticism may be justified, the authenticity criticism should be questioned. Because what does authenticity mean? What role does context play? Can the wearing of supposedly unfamiliar musicians not also be authentically motivated?
The reference to 18th/19th century composers created such an over-the-top discrepancy between the person and the artist, that serious criticism of lacking authenticity is redundant. There is no danger of being criticized by people who been to the actual concerts or tour of Tschaikovsky. Also, the project should expresses my preference for classical music and should ideally start a fun conversations about the composers and their music.
AUTHENTICITY. I am fascinated by the phenomenon of authenticity. In todays‘ culture it is one of the top values. Fueled by the possibilities of digital self-portrayal, the longing for identity, authenticity and individuality becomes visible among the young generation and digital natives. Ironically it is the subculture „hipsters“ in particular that get denied those qualities. In their strive for self actualization they end up ultimate conformity, so the criticism. This is also the case in the New York Times essay How to Live Without Irony published in 2012 by Princeton Professor Christy Wampole. She describes irony as a major problem for the hipsters‘ striving for actuality. In the flood of forms of expression and offers of identity, there is no room for the authentic. The ironic and nostalgic activities and appearances (long beards, vintage sweaters, record players, old band T-shirts) are symbols of a foreign generations/cultures that is illegally claimed. Thus a protection and concealment takes place, which prevents the desired authenticity.
As concise as Wampole’s thesis may be, it seems to me that her analysis operates against the background on which the question of authenticity has already been clarified. But what exactly is authenticity? Does it still exist or did it ever? With reference to authors such as Jean-Jacques Rousseau or Erving Goffman, who have approached the subject from different perspectives, the question becomes far more complicated than it initially seem. When is something authentic? Does the individual have an authentic core? Is a reference from a foreign generation automatically inauthentic? Can’t irony also be a very authentic form of expression?
The project should playfully stimulate some of these questions.