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Questioning Authenticity

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Abstract:

Authenticity is an important category in cultural debates, and has emerged in parallel with the notion of ‘modernity'. ‘Authenticity' refers to the idea that something is ‘real' or ‘true', that its outer appearance is in correspondence with its inner being, in contrast to things that are ‘fake' or ‘false' or ‘dissimulating'. Although the term thus seems to have a rather unequivocal meaning, its usage evokes quite some paradoxes. This article focuses on one of these paradoxes: the different notions of authenticity that are at stake within practices of conservation, on the one hand, and within the modernist discourse of the Modern Movement, on the other. It shows through a discussion of three different case studies (the Lever House in New York; the Technical School in Leuven, Belgium; and the hotel La Concha in San Juan, Puerto Rico) that both forms of authenticity are often at odds when it comes to the restoration of modernist buildings. The article's conclusion refers to wider conceptual considerations (e.g., those of David Lowenthal and Alessandro Ferrara) that might prepare the ground for a more reflective notion of authenticity.

Keywords: Authenticity; Heritage; Modernism

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/14608940600842607

Publication date: 2006-09-01

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