Click the Manhattan hillbillies to hear a sample mp3 (943k) of the beginning of the Fakeways documentary

Momus proudly presents a new organisation, The Fakeways Institute, which will, over the coming months, propose a series of products and web-based courses, starting with the mail order audio documentary CD Fakeways: Manhattan Folk (released May 2000) and ending with a new Momus album, codenamed 'Fake Folk', which will render into song Krafft-Ebing's anecdotal encyclopaedia of sexual fetish, Psychopathia Sexualis.

Situated in New York City, the Fakeways Institute will begin its study of Folk Art with a record of the results of a series of investigations and field trips conducted in Manhattan during Spring 2000. The CD Fakeways: Manhattan Folk is an audio collage of interviews, dramatisations and speculations. Momus is the chief sound architect of this work of ethnomusicology. Because Manhattan artists are such a dangerous and untamed race, many of the recordings had to be made by a specially-designed field robot, Sinclair Scientific.

Sinclair Scientific, one of the brightest lights of a new generation of robot ethno-musicologists, studied anthopology at the Sorbonne under Michel Leiris. His doctoral thesis, based on field recordings made in the Highlands of New Caledonia, examined the way folk arts -- synthesiser concerts, laser light shows, rock lyric 'poetry' recitals, performance art, basket-weaving and video-making -- can help bolster tribal myth systems and cement kinship bonds.

Sinclair quickly became dissatisfied with his field recordings, however, when he realised that many of the performances he had captured had been faked by cunning shamen cashing in on the unquenchable appetite of tourists and researchers for tribal synth music. It was the last straw when he discovered that some of the tapes he had sold to the Unesco Archives had in fact been cover versions of early Jean-Michel Jarre.

So Sinclair turned his attention to the tribes of less-studied peoples like the residents of Manhattan's Lower East Side whose folk arts, too eccentric for the conventional media corporations housed in the tall buildings uptown, nevertheless flourish unnoticed and undocumented in underground theaters and experimental gallery spaces.

Audio Documentary (Authentic and Genuine) For Sale

Orders for the audio documentary CD Fakeways: Manhattan Folk, which is available by mail order only through this website, are now being accepted. The price is $20 (cash or cheque payable to N. Currie. This price includes mailing to the address you specify). Send your order and payment to:

N. Currie
Box 6
511 6th Avenue
New York NY 10011-8436

Fakeways: Manhattan Folk contains interviews with Ford Wright of International Fiction, Stephin Merrit of Magnetic Fields, Steve Lafreniere of Index Magazine, Casey Spooner of Fischerspooner, the artist Jorge Colombo and many others. It is intended to provide, by means of brainstorming sessions with Manhattan artists, a series of speculative investigations which will build into a theoretical framework sturdy enough to support the next Momus album, which will be available through record stores worldwide in the usual way, probably next autumn.

For photos of the main particpants and a track listing, click here.
The Fakeways Institute: A Web College

Even if you don't order the audio documentary disk, you will still be able to follow courses at the Fakeways Institute completely free of charge by logging on regularily to the Momus website.

Students enrolling in Fakeways 101 will have a number of options from which to choose:

Syllabus A:
(any two of the following units):

Reeling and writhing and feinting in coils

Tantric Sex (The Quest For Immobility)

Michel Leiris: 'L'Afrique Phantome'

Laila France: A Charlatan At Reich's Orgonon

From Moog To ARP Odyssey: An Introduction To Synthesis

F For Fake: Orson Welles' Masterpiece?

Syllabus B:
(any two of the following units):

Malingering For Beginners: Creative Loafing, Advanced Jiggery-Pokery

Artaud, Bataille, Adorno

Grandma Moses: One Hundred Years Of Sundays

Sampling: Field Work (Operation and Use of the Uher Series 4000 Tape Recorder)

Jean Dubuffet: Artist Or Arse?

Beadwork With Shizu: Learning Can Be Fun

Syllabus C: Practical Work
(any two of the following units)
Please note: students are expected to pay their own travel expenses:-(

Cave Painting in the Ardennes

Three Months In Mongolia

Hunting Shadoks On The Moon (Professor Sendak)

Safari with Toog In Togo

Disneyland Florida: An Excavation Of This Important Site

God: The Ultimate Folk Artist?

The Fakeways Philosophy

Many of us are, without realising it, victims of the concept of authenticity. For instance, there is a right wing fringe of people who consider non-whites to be less 'American' than whites. These people are a fringe minority, but the usual response to them has been a counterclaim from people of colour to the same value, the value of authenticity. Therefore the snobbism of racial purity is simply replaced by a counter or inverted snobbism in which each race stresses the purity of its own roots.

It would be much better to change the value we put on the concept of authenticity, stressing one's bona fides by underlining the artificiality or fakeness of one's roots. Fake roots can be embraced by anyone, regardless of their origin. Fakeness should be worn with pride, like nylon clothes. By embracing impurity, bastardisation and fakeness, we open cultural activity up to anyone with the will and the courage to play.

Unfortunately there are many ideologies today which posit the unacceptable idea that some people are more 'real' than others.

Just as Soundscan has forced us to see the true diversity of record markets, revealing that record labels and journalists have given disproportionate amounts of money and attention to forms like white guitar rock, so the scientific approach to sex (Kinsey, Masters and Johnston) revealed that there were many ways of skinning the sexual cat.

Exogamy Versus Authenticity

At the Fakeways Institute, we believe that Mother Nature has provided us with an excellent inbuilt mechanism against the concept of authenticity. It's built into our sexuality, and it's called Exogamy. It is simply not evolutionarily sound to have sex only with people in an authentic and appropriate racial category. In all regimes where segregation has existed between people of different races (ancient Rome, South Africa, the old US South) it has been sex which has first broached the racial divide. Cross-racial sexual contact and miscegenation, like Thomas Jefferson's child by his slave Sally Hemmings, are often seen as part of the problem. In fact they are the beginning of the solution.

Music is another important bridger of divides. Even where people are prejudiced against other races, they often consume their music enthusiastically.

As Theodor Adorno has pointed out, peoples who have been dehumanised are often, paradoxically, made into symbols of all that is most human. This is a sentimentalising of inhumanity which merely perpetuates it. That is why, at the Fakeways Institute, we believe that nobody is more human than anybody else, and our solution to hierarchies of authenticity, regular or inverted ones, is the proud proclamation of the fakeness of everyone.

Homo Faker is Homo Faber!

That which is fake has been concocted. It has been put together self-consciously, with the context of other created forms always in mind. It does not spring naturally from the 'wellsprings of human creativity' or the 'collective unconscious'. It is aware of myths like that, and uses them, but is essentially parodistic.

Every shaman is a charlatan. But once we accept this, we accept that there can never again be an 'unmasking'. The mask and the face are one and the same. Like the regalia of the British royal family, most 'ancient' traditions were invented the day before yesterday. They are fake.

Man the faker is man the maker, minus the mystifying ideologies, the unnecessary disqualifications and apprenticeships insisted upon by all those who do not wish to share their capacity to create. There will henceforth be no cultural protectionism. You do not have to be French to make French art. Some of the best french pop music is made by young Japanese women.

The F in Fake stands for Freedom. Freedom from restricting ideologies of authenticity.

The Golden Age Of Fake

As a completely arbitrary boundary, we will propose the year 1970, which Unix programmers call The Epoch, as the end of The Golden Age. The Golden Age is seen as a time of peace, stability and tranquility in which people had natural values, common sense, lasting traditions, stable communities, respect for their elders, etc. In fact it was the opposite. The Golden Age, far from being a Golden Age of the Authentic, was the Golden Age of Fake.

People travelled little, and knew little about the way other people lived. Travellers brought back tales of other cultures, and the credulous believed everything they heard. It was easy to perpetuate fraud and fakery. For instance, you could tell people that sea monsters existed, and that the world was flat, and they would believe it.

Fake = Make + Free

Like Josef Beuys's Free International University, The Fakeways Institute has no campus and no membership. It can happen anywhere, and anyone can call themselves a representative. You will never be accused of being a 'fake' representative of Fakeways. Only those who claim to be authentic and try to show you ID are to be mistrusted.

We believe in equality of inauthenticity.

There is no contradiction between capitalism and Fake Folk. Fake Folk artists can either make money, or make no money. Corporations like Disney can be Folk Corporations.

Folk artists are traditionally defined as people who make art for reasons other than money: neurosis, pathology, for ceremonial reasons, ethnic prerogatives, ancestral tradition, or just a morbid need for attention. In the opinion of The Fakeways Institute, this is too narrow a definition. The term Folk Art will one day be replaced by the term Population Art.

The Transition

There will be a period of transition from the era of the Fake Authentic to the era of the Authentic Fake. National costume should, during this transitional period at least, only be made in artificial fibres like nylon. Folk music (which, in the era of the Authentic Fake, will be referred to as Population Music) must be played on synthesisers only. This is because, during this transition, we must exaggerate the fakeness of everything. We must underline inauthenticity.

Fakeness is a value that has been hidden and denigrated. It needs help, it needs positive discrimination, affirmative action. One day, however, everything will return to normal. There will be national costume made of cloth, fur and beadwork and folk music made on acoustic instruments, as before. But everything will be different, because people's minds will have been changed. Folk Art (known then as Population Art) will be consumed by people who understand that it is fake, and no-one will have to stress its inauthenticity.

Fakeways: Myths And Songs Of Momalia

Momus will have his first one man show in an art gallery later this year at the LFL Gallery, Chelsea, New York. A performance and installation show entitled Fakeways: Myths And Songs Of Momalia, the show will extend the ideas of the Fakeways Institute.

The show is opening on October 12th and will run for a month. Momus will be in the gallery each day making video narratives of fake mythology, a kind of faux-primitive Outsider Artist who will include visitors in his narratives and songs. Come along and get written into ethnomusicological history!

Read more about the show here.

The Fakeways Institute.
A new way of thinking.
A new way of living.
Be free! Be fake!