You think you know a person. You think you know your best friend or your brother or your brother’s best friend’s girlfriend. You think you know the person sitting in front of you in your last MWF class. You make judgments in the elevator, in line at Starbucks (because Starbucks is so commercialized, I go to Kudu), on the bus. Whether they’re positive or negative or spot on or totally off base, you make judgments. You dress up to go to an interview, cover up your tattoos under a long sleeve button up. You wear the most flattering dress to go out on Saturday night. You match earrings to your purse and your purse to your shoes. You present yourself as fun when its socially acceptable, professional when socially expected. You talk one way to a professor and another to your parents and yet another to your friends. So who are you? And who is that person who sits in front of you in your last MWF class? And who was that person at Starbucks who was paying $5.00 for a coffee? Someone who had money to spend on useless things like $5.00 coffee. Or were they?
What you see every day, in everyone, is a photograph. Its unauthentic, it’s a mere simulacra of the actual person. You can never truly and purely and accurately know your best friend or your dog or that person who was buying coffee at Starbucks. The people you interact with daily or weekly or once in an entire lifetime are no more familiar or strange to you than the girl on cover of the latest Vogue sitting on your coffee table. (She’s beautiful and famous and must be so happy. Or must she?) No person will ever present himself or herself wholly, genuinely and authentically to the same one person, not even over the course of an entire lifetime. You won’t do it and neither will I. We live multiple lives under the guise of the one we think is most likely to be accepted by society, or get a rise out of society in some cases. We all want to stand in the spotlight, but while we’re there we want to appear to be the best we can be, even if that is only a simulacra.
Our project will take you behind the scenes, into the other lives that exist and rage and scream and are silenced by the one life that is thought to look a little better. Through photographs and confessions we will give you a look into the turmoil that exists underneath the clear complexion, the Starbucks coffee, the whitened teeth, and the way that girl crosses her legs when she sits in front of you in your last MWF class. We’ll try to take you past the simulacrum and though we could never show you pure authenticity, no one ever could, we’ll show you that something more authentic exists below what is presented to you and what you present to us.
Works Consulted –
Frey, James. A Million Little Pieces. Los Angeles: Random House, 2003. Print.
Murfin, Ross, and Supriya M. Ray. The Bedford Glossary of Literary and Critical Terms. 2nd ed. Boston: Bedford St. Martin’s, 2003. Print.
Smith, Sidonie, and Julia Watson. Reading Autobiography. 2nd ed. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota, 2010. Print.