The Issue of Authenticity

Citing one of my favourite frequent bloggers, Lebbeus Woods, he posts and interesting article on the topic of ‘Authenticity’. As an introduction he proclaims the terms and conditions of authenticity that we are all familiar with, something is authentic if it emerges from the source of originality.

Interestingly, Woods’ battles this notion with inauthentic, going on to refer to Walter Benjamin’s perspective on “the work of art in the age of mechanical reproduction” and the radically socialist / communist idea of an everyday art that is accessible to anyone, woven into the very fabric of daily living. This is achieved fully by a ‘mass produced art’, opting for the inauthentic in an attempt to shatter the “aura” that surround art due to originality.

Towards a conclusion, it is revealed that what Benjamin foresees is in fact consumer society and how plenty of our museums today are retail stores, in the amount of consumption that can take place. Instead of an public place where the arts are meant to be fully on show, we are still faced with art in the hands of elitists whereby the galleries themselves echo “shh do not touch”.

What role can architecture play in this consumer society, after all Walter Benjamin regarded architecture as the only art viewed passively, can we as architects produce something closer to Benjamin’s aspirations of “free art” from the our facades without charge out onto the streets?

For the full article, read at:



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