chapter  13
7 Pages

Aura

Aura is vulnerable and fragile, with an always imminent sense of fading that is suggestive of a melancholy aesthetic. As an intangible quality, aura is often described in terms of its absence, its impending loss, and it is inherently elusive and fugitive. Even the very de nition of aura is mysterious. Walter Benjamin, the pre-eminent theorist of aura, wrote of it in a variety of ways, each suggestive of a distinctive emphasis. The pivotal point was aura’s association with authenticity and originality, something which was under threat from mass production. This in itself was a paradox, a con ict, as it meant at once the loss of the uniqueness of an object and at the same time the achievement of egalitarian access to art: ‘For the rst time in world history, mechanical reproduction emancipates the work of art from its parasitical dependence on ritual’ (Benjamin, 1969, p.226).