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‘Truth Booth’ should draw huge crowd at Expo Chicago

It should be interesting to see what Chicagoans add to what is being called the “Truth Booth” on Navy Pier as part of a collaboration between Project& and the huge Expo Chicago art show this weekend. “In Search of the Truth (Truth Booth),” the brainchild of the artistic team of Hank Willis Thomas, Jim Ricks and Ryan Alexiev, is an inflatable booth in the shape of a speech bubble, as might be seen in a cartoon comic strip.

Thursday through Sunday, participants can enter the booth and record a two-minute video as they reflect on finishing the sentence, “The truth is …”

Project& president and artistic director Jane M. Saks explained Wednesday that the Truth Booth has been recording messages from “hundreds and hundreds of people” around the world since it first debuted in Ireland and subsequently has gone to South Africa, Afghanistan, Cleveland, Miami and Brooklyn, before its installation at Expo Chicago. Ultimately, the goal is to take all the recordings and fashion them into a film, to bring the message of Project&’s mission to a broader audience.

That mission, as articulated by Saks, is a collaboration “with artists to create new models of cultural participation and experience with social impact.”

Saks also explained that Project& “invited 150 organizations from across Chicago to come. They include people like Access Chicago, the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago, the YWCA, Lurie Children’s Hospital, Rape Victims Advocate, the Goodman Theatre, Black Youth Project 100 and the Center on Halsted. All these groups have signed up for times for their supporters to come and offer their truths.”

As for the way people have completed that “The truth is …” phrase, Saks said, the subject matter has been, perhaps not unexpectedly, extremely broad. “There have been people who talk about the state of the world and the anxiety and pain over the state of the world. Women in Afghanistan talked about wanting to be able to go to school. There’s people who talked about some very graphic issues, race issues, political issues.

“But then there’s also some very humorous, funny ones as well. One of my favorites was a young boy who said, ‘The truth is … Legos!’ It’s one of the most profound statements, because the truth is creativity, right?”

The “Truth Booth” will be positioned on Navy Pier this weekend so that people attending Expo Chicago — and those who do not elect to buy a ticket to the show — will be able to participate and record their own take on “The truth is …”

Artwork from 140 galleries representing 16 countries will be exhibited at Expo Chicago, the traditional kickoff to the city’s fall art season. For ticket information, see www.expochicago.com.