- Published 20230207
- ISBN: 978-1-922212-80-1
- Extent: 264pp
- Paperback (234 x 153mm), eBook
THINK BACK TO when you were a kid and of all the things you believed in that turned out not to be true: Santa Claus. Unicorns. Your parents’ infallibility. The concept of fairness. Bill Murray. These unmaskings may, in some cases, have been sudden and shocking; in others, the dawning of truth may have been more gradual, your naïveté slowly disappearing beneath the ineluctable horizon of maturity and cynicism.
As we grow older and the make-believe fables and protections of childhood fall away, we’re often expected to understand the difference between what’s real and what’s not – it’s simply part of how we must navigate the world as adults. But quite aside from the vexed circumstances of being alive in the twenty-first century – a time of relentless counterfeit both online and off, from filters and fillers to influencers and identity fraud – our very existence as humans who must coexist with other humans necessitates a constant and complicated process of distinguishing the authentic from the artificial. It’s never easy – even when you’ve known for decades that Santa isn’t real.
In her book Authenticity, writer Alice Sherwood observes that the very word ‘authenticity’ now has dual meanings that are ‘almost completely opposite’. There’s the original meaning – the objective notion of whether something is a fact, a verifiable claim. And there’s a more recent meaning that’s altogether more nebulous – what Sherwood calls ‘personal authenticity’, or ‘being true…to your own, internal sense of self’, ‘looking to feelings rather than facts’.
These competing, sometimes contradictory, concepts can create a circle that’s difficult to square. So perhaps the question we should be asking isn’t about whether something is real but about how we’re defining – and
redefining – the terms of that reality and the values we ascribe to it.
COUNTERFEIT CULTURE NAVIGATES this maze of modern deception with a compelling and wide-ranging collection of nonfiction, fiction, poetry and visual essay. The pieces in this edition mine the social, cultural and emotional ramifications of our shifting relationship with reality: the power of deepfakes, the possibilities of AI-generated art, the changing face of cosmetic surgery, the performance of pornographic pleasure, the dangers of corporate greenwashing, the allure of conspiracy, the bureaucratisation of art, the psychic release of fake news, the limits of national identity, the stigma of selling out, the complexities of gender transitioning and much more. This edition’s short fiction offerings include an unsettling trip to a strange town, a macabre memorialisation of a beloved family pet and the outlandish escapades of a psychic shaman oracle medium visionary prophet saint. Counterfeit Culture won’t deceive you (at least not intentionally), but it’s sure to entertain you – and perhaps you’ll think about it the next time you find yourself unsure whether what you’re reading, seeing or hearing is, in fact, fake.
I’d like to thank the Copyright Agency Cultural Fund for their generous support of our Emerging Voices competition – one of our five winning entries from 2022, Alex Philp’s ‘Taxidermy’, appears in this collection. You can enjoy the final two winning pieces from last year’s competition in our next edition, Griffith Review 80: Creation Stories.
I hope you enjoy reading this collection as much as the Griffith Review team enjoyed working on it. Just like Coca-Cola, it’s the real thing.
28 November 2022
More from author
In ConversationQuestioning the past is a vital part of my role as an artist. Art has the influence to shape the way we think and perceive the world, as it has throughout history. I’m motivated by the desire to improve and do better, and the same goes for how I want my art career to proceed. The need to do better in the future is predicated on the fact that to do so, we need to revisit and interrogate the past. This is especially important in a country such as Australia, founded on colonial violence and with a legacy of racism that persists today.
More from this edition
Will we dance when it’s over?
Non-fictionThe stakes in our real world have reached a point so high, so close to apocalypse, that they’ve disappeared entirely. We are gripped by a nihilism and unnerving sense of unreality, and so we don’t receive the messages others are trying to send to us.
Outside, Mona Lisa
Non-fictionWhere bushwalking is concerned, Tasmanian maps are not an authentic picture of the landscape. They’re fine if you want to stick to well-known trails, but if the track has been assigned a T4 rating it won’t be on the map. Sometimes that’s because the route is so rough it would be misleading to mark it as a track, but sometimes it’s that for a range of management and environmental purposes, the PWS just doesn’t want many walkers going there.
FictionI touch the wax of their pickaxes, then run my hand along the wax rock of the walls. One man squats a few metres away from the others, holding a pan. As I move towards him, I notice a label with descriptive text about Victoria’s gold rush, a reminder of the foundational gruesomeness of the enterprise – the colonial history of world’s fairs, or zoos, here insisting on itself in a minor carnival of the macabre.