Wednesday, May 26, 2004

Talking About Fakes

I thought Kenneth Lapatin, author of "Snake Goddesses, Fake Godesses" expressed a very interesting view of the importance of forgeries in this recent interview in Archaeology Magazine:

"When a modern object is taken to be a historical artifact, the past is misrepresented, and hence it is likely to be misunderstood. And because successful forgeries are successful to the degree that they appeal to our modern ideas and ideals about the past, forgeries can contribute significantly to our tendency to re-create the past in the manner most attractive to our modern needs and desires. For that reason I think that when forgeries are recognized and exposed it is important and valuable not to bury--or worse, to destroy--them simply because they are fake and potentially embarrassing, but rather to study and display them so as to employ them as examples of how we are constantly refashioning the past as part of the historical enterprise. They are also useful for the training of students."

Lapatin's book on the subject, Mysteries of the Snake Goddess: Art, Desire, and the Forging of History (2002), has now appeared in paperback form (Da Capo Press, $16.95)
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