Ryan Alexiev, Hank Willis Thomas and Jim Ricks with “The Truth Booth” in Ireland. Photo courtesy Cause Collective.

May 3, 2019

Hirshhorn To Host Participatory “Truth Booth” Inviting Visitors To Contribute to Public Quest for Truth
Installation by CAUSE COLLECTIVE Artists Ryan Alexiev, Jim Ricks and Hank Willis Thomas Makes Its Washington Debut June 8–23, 2019

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden will present the Washington, D.C., debut of “In Search of the Truth (The Truth Booth),” a long-term global project by CAUSE COLLECTIVE artists Ryan Alexiev, Jim Ricks, Hank Willis Thomas, Jorge Sanchez and Will Sylvester. Situated on the museum’s outdoor plaza overlooking the National Mall, the participatory installation will be open daily, weather permitting, June 8–23. “The Truth Booth” will be presented in conjunction with “Manifesto: Art x Agency,” the Hirshhorn’s exhibition exploring the art historical impact of artist manifestos from the 20th century to present day, June 15–Jan. 5, 2020.

“We are proud to host the Washington debut of this participatory installation, which explores humanity and celebrates diversity,” said Hirshhorn Director Melissa Chiu. “The Hirshhorn is dedicated to amplifying the voices of artists whose works address contemporary issues, and ‘The Truth Booth’ will allow visitors to the National Mall to join in this self-expression as part of this global art project.”

The installation is composed of a 16-foot-tall tent shaped like a speech bubble where visitors are invited to enter and leave a video message in response to the statement, “The truth is…” The recorded confessional-style videos are edited into two-minute-long clips and added to the project’s website, insearchofthetruth.net, which serves as a public archive of these video artworks. With the word “TRUTH” prominently printed on its side, “The Truth Booth” will serve as a visible, thought-provoking beacon on the National Mall, while simultaneously providing a meditative, intimate space where people can sincerely share their thoughts.

Since 2011, “The Truth Booth” has toured the world with the mission of building a diverse portrait of humanity by collecting perspectives, confessions and thoughts on “the truth” from across the globe. Conceived of by Alexiev, Ricks and Thomas and later joined by Sanchez and Sylvester, the project was initiated by the CAUSE COLLECTIVE, a team of artists, designers and ethnographers who create innovative art in the public realm, exploring and enlivening public spaces by creating dynamic conversations between issues, sites and the public audience.

About the Artists

Raised in Alaska by Bulgarian immigrants, Ryan Alexiev received a Bachelor of Arts in history from the University of California, Berkeley and a Master of Fine Arts from the California College of the Arts, where he currently teaches in Graduate Design program. He has exhibited at galleries across the country, including the Andy Warhol Museum, Wadsworth Atheneum, the Nathan Cummings Foundation, the Armory Show in New York and the Oakland Museum of California. Alexiev is also co-founder of the CAUSE COLLECTIVE, which was commissioned to create “The Truth Is I Am You” for the University of California at San Francisco and the video installation “Along the Way” for the Oakland International Airport. “Along the Way” went on to feature at the Sundance Film Festival.

Jim Ricks is a conceptual artist who problematizes preconceptions about identity and value with a clever epistemology. His work is research driven, publicly engaged and site specific. He has had solo shows at Casa Maauad (Mexico City), Pallas Projects (Dublin), the Hugh Lane Gallery (Dublin), Onomatopee (Eindhoven, Netherlands) and shown in a number of group shows, including at the Imperial War Museum (London), Jack Shainman Gallery (New York City), Ulster Museum (Belfast), Temple Bar Gallery & Studios (Dublin), Royal Hibernian Academy (Dublin), Galway Arts Festival (Galway, Ireland), Art Basel Miami Art Public (Miami), The Limerick City Gallery of Art (Limerick, Ireland) and the Cranbrook Art Museum (Detroit).

Jorge Sanchez is an Ethnographer born in Colombia and based in California. He is a researcher at the Cesar Chavez Institute (CCI) and at the Center for Research on Gender and Sexuality (CRGS) in San Francisco. At CCI, his work has focused on the Family Acceptance Project, a California Endowment funded project looking at familial acceptance and rejection of queer youth. At CRGS, Sanchez’ work focuses on the Relations Study, a Ford Foundation funded project looking at how class, race, and ethnicity impact the lives of young adults. The data he collected at CRGS is being analyzed with data from Brazil and South Africa, and will be part of the Foundation’s upcoming publication on cross-cultural sexualities. Sanchez’ work has appeared in several publications including the Journal of Urban Health and the American Association of Anthropology. Since the mid-nineties, he has worked at the grassroots level as a health educator and community organizer for people at risk for contracting or transmitting HIV. He has served on the Board of Directors of several local non-profit agencies and city commissions as well as review panels for San Francisco’s Department of Public Health. He is interested in contributing to the field of visual anthropology.

Will Sylvester received a Bachelor of Arts with a concentration on Documentary Film for Social and Cultural Change from the University of Massachusetts in 2011. That same year he went on to edit, build and tour the Question Bridge: Black Males exhibition, including showings at Sundance Film Festival’s New Frontiers and the Sheffield Documentary Film Festival. As a member of the Cause Collective, Sylvester helped to create The Long March, a 65-feet wide, 14-feet tall, 27-monitor installation incorporating depictions of movement, migration and marching from different eras in Alabama history. It is a permanent installation at the Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport in Alabama. Sylvester has also served as supervising editor for several projects including “Am I Going Too Fast,” “A person is worth more than anything else…” and “We are not yet free….”

Hank Willis Thomas is a photo conceptual artist working primarily with themes related to identity, history and popular culture. He received a Bachelor of Fine Arts in photography and Africana studies from New York University and his Master of Fine Arts/Master of Arts in photography and visual criticism from the California College of Arts. His work is featured in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Guggenheim Museum and the Oakland Museum of California. He has exhibited at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and the High Museum of Art, among others.

About the Hirshhorn

The Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden is the national museum of modern and contemporary art and a leading voice for 21st-century art and culture. Part of the Smithsonian, the Hirshhorn is located prominently on the National Mall in Washington, D.C. With an array of paintings, sculptures, photographs, mixed-media installations, works on paper and new media works, the Hirshhorn’s collection encompasses one of the most important collections of postwar American and European art in the world. The Hirshhorn presents diverse exhibitions and offers an array of public programs on the art of our time––free to all, 364 days a year (closed Dec. 25). For more information, visit hirshhorn.si.edu.

Image: Ryan Alexiev, Hank Willis Thomas and Jim Ricks with “The Truth Booth” in Ireland. Photo courtesy Cause Collective.