Falsifying Spiritual Truths: A Case Study in Fakes and Forgeries.

This discussion of Spirit Energy of Mother Earth attributed to Norval Morrisseau brings to light the conceptions we bring when engaging with a work of art and how they are challenged when its authorship is questioned. A fake or forgery declines in economic value as a result of our changed aesthetic attitudes, which have been altered by the misattribution of authorship. Even when disregarding the author function, as some traditional Indigenous communities do, our reception of a Morrisseau painting is still changed because of the falsification of its spiritual content. Although the fake Morrisseau may be original in execution, its concept and spiritual content is fraudulent and thus threatens the authority of the artist’s intent. Morrisseau’s work has an intangible, inspirational appeal that lies in its inherent spiritual qualities. Regardless of aesthetics and authorship, it is this spiritual artistic intent that characterizes Morrisseau’s works, separating them from fakes.

Render | The Carleton Graduate Journal of Art and Culture
Kristyn Rolanty, MA Art History