On February 27, a panel at Smith College will dissect the very worthy topic of authenticity and identity in music and media—the ways in which the “truthfulness” of an artists’ work is interpreted via “patriarchal assumptions about gender and race, particularly within the context of a capitalist economy wherein the appearance of an individual author is marketed into a narrative of an individualized identity,” reads the description of the event. If that description is any indication, it’s likely to be a smart, pointed panel that tackles the oft overlooked nuances of such conversations.
Formally titled “Is She Really a Musician? Navigating Identity and Authenticity in Music and Media”, the event features Meredith Graves of Perfect Pussy, Mitski Miyawaki of Mitski, writer and illustrator Suzy Exposito, and musician/author Imogen Binnie. It’s organized and moderated by Ally Einbinder of Potty Mouth and Samantha Chaplin, who are both Smith alum. It’s free, open to the public, and sounds pretty legendary. Read the full description of the event below, and find more information here.
In the thirty year span of her career, Bjork has been consistently discredited for the composition and production of her work, despite publishing explicit disclaimers clarifying her role as author and co-producer. When Hole’s first album “Live Through This” came out in 1994, there was an immediate buzz from fans and media alike claiming that the album had been written by Kurt Cobain — even though, this too, has been proven false. More recently, a vengeful sound engineer “leaked” Courtney Love’s isolated vocal and guitar tracks from a performance at the venue which hired (and neglected to pay) the engineer — and social media roared for weeks as the sound of Love’s isolated tracks seemed to be the fodder so many had been waiting for to finally expose Love as the fraud she was accused of being just 20 years prior. These examples, while not the focal point of this panel, serve as useful launching pads for thinking about how notions of “authenticity” — or “truthfulness” in respect to artists’ talent, expression and identity — are constructed and upheld via patriarchal assumptions about gender and race, particularly within the context of a capitalist economy wherein the appearance of an individual author is marketed into a narrative of an individualized identity.