Next week, the truth will come to St. Louis— at least, the truth according to you.
Three downtown locations will host an outdoor, public art piece titled “In Search of the Truth,” a global project centered on the Truth Booth, a 16-foot-tall sculpture shaped like a speech bubble.
The booth will be in Poelker Park, at Market Street and Tucker Boulevard, on Thursday; Kiener Plaza on Oct. 18; and Central Library at 1301 Olive Street on Oct. 19.
Visitors are invited to step inside the towering booth and complete the statement “The truth is …” while being filmed. The videos will be edited and compiled at insearchofthetruth.net, along with statements by other participants from around the world.
Eight artists from San Francisco-based Cause Collective, a team of artists who strive to enliven public spaces through art, created the Truth Booth in 2011. Founding artist Jim Ricks says “In Search of the Truth” began from the collective’s desire to break down preconceptions.
“You’re looking someone in the eye as they’re sitting in this inflatable structure talking to themselves about something that is true to them in that moment,” Ricks says. “To re-present those in another location allows people to kind of reflect on those people.”
The Truth Booth has traveled around the world to countries including Ireland, South Africa and Afghanistan. It was most recently at the Smithsonian’s Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C.
The project comes to St. Louis as part of the Downtown STL Public Art Initiative, a new partnership of the Regional Arts Commission, Downtown STL Inc. and Explore St. Louis.
Erika Fiola, RAC’s director of strategic initiatives and community partnerships, says the Truth Booth fits into the art initiative’s goal of using public art to connect cultural pockets in St. Louis.
“We’re highlighting the culture of downtown as a place of creativity and possibility and re-enforcing the idea that the heart of downtown is a diverse and welcoming place,” Fiola says.
This isn’t the first St. Louis stop for the booth. It visited Washington University in 2016 as part of the presidential debates held there.
“We remembered that exhibition fondly and wanted to bring it back and get more people to be able to experience it,” Fiola says.
Art brings vibrancy and promotes inclusion, she says. The Downtown STL Public Art Initiative aims to use art to demonstrate to tourists — and to St. Louisans — that the city is a unique, creative place.
The art initiative will also host “InSite 202,” a temporary exhibition downtown of commissioned public work by five artists. Each project will be on view in May.
The Truth Booth has acquired more than 10,000 testimonials since its start, Ricks says. Hundreds are archived online for anyone to view.
Participants’ truths run the gamut from “what comes out of the mouth of my 2-year-old son” to “microchips are the future.”
Everyone has their own version of the truth, Ricks says. For him, the project has made his own truth apparent.
“The truth for me is truthfulness,” Ricks says. “When people speak from the heart, it’s a very powerful thing that transcends language and culture.”
What The Truth Booth • When 11 a.m-5 p.m. Oct. 17-18, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 19 • Where Poelker Park at Market Street and Tucker Boulevard; Kiener Plaza; Central Library, 1301 Olive Street • How much Free • More info insearchofthetruth.net