"Truthiness," the quality of preferring concepts one wishes to be true over those known to be true, was introduced by the comedian Stephen Colbert in the pilot episode of his now wildly popular political satire program, The Colbert Report. Described by the quick-tongued host as a "truth that comes from the gut, not books," the word has taken on a life of its own since then, earning Merriam Webster's Word of the Year spot in 2006, spurring a number of lexicon-obsessed articles in the New York Times, and even inspiring debates in the Canadian Parliament. And now the concept that was originally meant to define the ethos of the loud, right-leaning political commentators has infiltrated the world of art, solidifying the term's absolute cultural permanence.
Seung Woo Back, RW001-001, 2004; from Real World I series; digital print; Courtesy of the artist and
Gana Art Gallery, Seoul.
"More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness" is a multiple media exhibition of contemporary artworks that explore our changing perceptions of reality. The premise of the exhibition, debuting at the contemporary art space SITE Santa FE, is that we, as a global culture, have entered into an "Age of Truthiness," an era characterized by truths no longer reverent to anything tangible, provable or factual at all. Through a presentation of paintings, sculptures, photography, film and installations by 28 international artists including Ai Weiwei and Sharon Lockhart, the exhibition seeks to delve through the fictions-masked-as-fact that have engrained themselves in political narratives and popular culture today.
The aim is not so much to refute the false truths; rather, the collection of works exposes and remarks upon the ease of fabrication and subjectivity in a time of fast-paced technological change. Like the spirit of The Colbert Report, several of the artists involved in the show address politically charged issues that have been narrated to society by not-so-reliable sources, such as artist Inigo Manglano-Ovalle's replica of the chemical-weapon-baring trucks Colin Powell recollected from Iraq. And others focus more heavily on the technological advancements that blurred the line between documentation and reappropriation, such as Vik Muniz's simulations of the reverse sides of iconic paintings or Eve Sussman's video installation that recreates the scene of Diego Velazquez's "Las Meninas."
Of course, the concepts of authenticity and originality are certainly not new to the world of art, and artists from the Impressionists to the Surrealists were obsessed with exploring the shifting perceptions of truth long before Photoshop came along. But the terms of negotiating reality have certainly changed in the 21st century, and the exhibition's diverse group of contemporary artists working in all forms of media makes for a compelling show.
"More Real? Art in the Age of Truthiness" is presented by SITE Santa Fe in collaboration with the Minneapolis Institute of Arts. The exhibit will be on display until January 6th, 2013.
See a slideshow of the work on view below: