How would you define truth? Is it an experience? A confession?
The public art piece In Search of the Truth (The Truth Booth) seeks to explore this question by prompting those who enter the inflatable cartoon speech bubble emblazoned with TRUTH to tell the truth from their own perspectives in a two minute recorded video.
On April 11 and 12, the project will be on display at the Verb Hotel in the heart of Fenway.
“We’ve never had anything like this here at the hotel,” said Lauren Recchia, the director of marketing for the Verb, noting the music history of the hotel itself and the culture of the neighborhood. “We’ve never had this unique, alternative-style event that is just going to pop up right in the front. I really think it’s going to be over-the-top insane.”
The booth’s exhibition at the hotel falls on opening day of Fenway Park, offering over 37,000 potential truth tellers.
“It’s in the neighborhood of [the] Fenway which is a stream of different cultures and voices itself,” said Dina Dietsch, the director of curatorial projects for GT Public, an endeavor established by art-consulting firm Goodman Taft to organize art installations within the public landscape. “It’s a neighborhood in transition, and we think it's able to capture the notion of what is Boston. After the April visit these voices of Boston will join this global archive.”
The installation of the Truth Booth began in 2011 with the collaboration of artists Hank Willis Thomas, Ryan Alexiev, Jim Ricks, and Will Sylvester of the Cause Collective, an organization composed of artists, designers and ethnographers based in San Francisco.
Visitors to the installation enter the inflatable speech bubble and are asked to finish the statement, “The truth is…” in a two minute video.
Thomas often looks at race and identity throughout his work, and with the Truth Booth he hopes to expose mythologies of cultures by allowing individual expression. He wants to focus less on a collective identity and more on the personal experience.
“I think it’s really important as an artist that you make work that expresses your opinions and having platforms that express the outcomes,” said Thomas. “We were interested in creating a space where people who don't see themselves as art participate in a creative environment and creating the environment. It’s collaboration between us and the ever expanding group of people across the world, and time and that’s what’s really exciting for us.”
The project was first shown at the 2011 Galloway Arts Festival in Ireland. The booth has since traveled to Afghanistan, Burning Man, and other locations across the United States.
“I hope that even if they just see the booth and go inside it that they are inspired and decide to engage, because it is a sculpture,” said Thomas. “And if they see some of the videos, that they feel touched and are inspired to be more open and vulnerable with other people, because I think the project is about vulnerability. People go into the booth and have no idea who will see or hear them and are vulnerable, and that’s a pretty powerful thing.”
Jim Ricks, a San Francisco native who has lived in Dublin the past 10 years, hopes to see the project expand on a greater international scale.
“I see the strength of giving the people without a voice a voice,” he said, noting that the project at first was more philosophical, but has since become more confessional and anthropological. “We’re asking people to give us something as much as we’re asking them to take something. Ideally, I think people would spend some time with it and the other videos and think about how they relate to other people on other sides of the world and be a little more connected or feel a little more connected.”
With the truths already recorded, the group has produced a seven-minute video of their work but hope to create a greater online presence and archive of truths so that they can be accessible worldwide.
“To me the best videos aren’t the people who give the best truths but the ones who speak truthfully,” Ricks said. “You can see it, you can see it in their eyes and hear it from the heart. Because they’re alone, they speak to themselves almost. It’s very intimate.”
The booth arrives at the Verb through a partnership between developer Samuels & Associates, GT Public, and the Rose Kennedy Greenway. After the Verb, the booth will move to the north end of the Greenway from April 13 to 15.
“We are interested in bringing art projects to the city of Boston and to the public sphere through cultural collaborations,” said Dietsch. “It’s a public art project that is both a sculpture that literally speaks to history of public art through being a light, temporary gesture, and it is completely interactive. As a public art sculpture it only operates on the interaction of people who visit it.”
For the artists as well, the project depends on interaction. When asked if they too can define “truth,” they leave it open.
“Something that is very profound to me may be obvious to someone else,” Thomas said. “I think seeing the range in diversity and beauty of people, they way they speak, is the theme to me. To me that’s the totality of people going into the booth. It’s kind of overwhelming. You see what people say, what they value, and then you see something that may really surprise you.”
This piece was originally published by The Fenway News.
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