Nick Cave’s text-based video work Truth Be Told (2021) has launched nationwide. The works are part of the artist’s ongoing series of site-specific works by the same name designed in collaboration with creative partner Bob Faust. This new iteration of the project was specially created for Orange Barrel Media (OBM)’s “Sunset Spectacular” in West Hollywood, CA as part of OBM’s partnership program with the City of West Hollywood, Arts on Sunset. New presentations are on view in major cities across the US starting on July 4, 2021, on 314 of OBM’s digital billboards and screens in 11 additional cities including Atlanta, Washington DC, Boston, and across OBM’s network of IKE Smart City pedestrian kiosks.
Truth Be Told was first installed in monumental black vinyl letters on the façade of Jack Shainman Gallery’s The School in Kinderhook, New York, in response to the police killing of George Floyd in the summer of 2020. The public artwork led to a legal battle over the use of public space and the right to expression, in which the village of Kinderhook attempted to have the artwork removed by classifying it as a sign in violation of local code. The dispute was resolved in February 2021, when Kinderhook’s Zoning Board of Appeals acknowledged that the installation was art, not a sign, and would not be regulated by the village’s signage code. These events inspired the artists to revisit this phrase for installations in multiple cities, including this new iteration which first appeared in the unique context of the Sunset Strip for Arts on Sunset. The arts program, presented by the City of West Hollywood and OBM, supports artistic experimentation and visibility through commissioned works by emerging and internationally recognized artists.
The expression “Truth Be Told” implies the admission of an otherwise uncomfortable reality. In the context of this work, the artists question the precariousness of truth and its role in our society, while simultaneously using the phrase as a call to action, seeking to encourage and summon truth from those who encounter the artwork.
Nick Cave said: “At a time of so much disinformation and racist beliefs finally surfacing, it is more important than ever to speak truth to power, and in many cases to ourselves.”
For this iteration of Truth Be Told, Cave and Faust worked together to create a video that animates the text, filling the screen with larger-than-life words coming in and out of the frame that eventually assemble themselves into the phrasing TRUTH BE TOLD. Throughout, a figure darts in and out of the screen dressed in one of Cave’s signature Soundsuits—specially crafted sculptural costumes made from unexpected materials that are activated through movement. While the video is silent, one can imagine the clamoring sounds of the suit as it moves with the figure’s anxious and imploring performance. Cave and Faust’s work uses a graphic and polished design aesthetic, strategically redeploying the language of advertising that dominates billboards and digital outdoor media. Truth Be Told challenges us to confront difficult but necessary truths that define our era, and so much of American history, and opens up the way we might think about the possibilities of the public sphere.
“We’re proud to partner with Nick Cave to amplify his powerful work across the country. It is fitting that Truth Be Told launched in West Hollywood, a city specifically established to create a haven for free expression, civil rights, and creativity. The nationwide expansion on July 4th is timely and celebrates our collective pursuit of the ideals of justice and liberty,” said Pete Scantland, CEO of Orange Barrel Media.
Key Facts and Figures
Truth Be Told, 2021
Designed in collaboration with Bob Faust
Color video; 30 sec.
Edited by Nolan Collaborative
Commissioned for OBM and the City of West Hollywood and originally exhibited on the Sunset Strip
On view: July 4, 2021 – August 30, 2021
Washington DC Locations for viewing Truth Be Told:
- 7th & H Streets NW
- 7th & G Streets NW
- 1201 Half Street SE (Thumbnail image above)
- 1221 Van Street SE
- 1250 W Half Street
- 201 Peachtree St. SW
- Peachtree Center MARTA Station
- Reverb Hotel – 89 Centennial Olympic Park Dr NW
- 75 MLK Jr. Dr. SW
- W Hotel Downtown Boston
- Landsdone and Ipswich
- Seaport Blvd at Northern Ave
- Landowne and Brookline
- Washington & Boylston
IKE Smart City kiosk locations
- San Antonio
- St. Louis
Nick Cave creates spaces of memorial through combining found historical objects with contemporary dialogues on gun violence and death, underscoring the anxiety of severe trauma brought on by catastrophic loss. He is best known for his Soundsuits, sculptural forms based on the scale of his body, initially created in direct response to the police beating of Rodney King in 1991. Soundsuits camouflage the body, masking and creating a second skin that conceals race, gender and class, forcing the viewer to look without judgment. They serve as a visual embodiment of social justice that represent both brutality and empowerment. Cave lives and works in Chicago. He received his BFA from Kansas City Art Institute and his MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art. He has had solo exhibitions at Denver Art Museum; the Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia; The Frist Center for Visual Arts, Nashville; Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston; Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art; Park Avenue Armory, New York; Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts; and the Saint Louis Art Museum.
Drawing upon the language and tools of the design world and capitalizing on his expertise as a typographer, Bob Faust creates visual, visceral and contextual art experiences that inspire and/or instigate action. He is the principal and creative director for Faust, a cultural branding and communications studio as well as the studio/special projects director for artist Nick Cave where he collaborates on both exhibition design and performance works. Faustʼs non-secular approach can be seen ubiquitously applied across all his work genres, from client-based commercial work to galleries and institutions most notably through his bespoke Wallworks, which function variously as visual art installations and frameworks for meditative experiences. Faust has been recognized nationally and internationally for his creativity and clarity through many prestigious exhibitions and publications such as the Society of Typographic Arts, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, DSGN CHGO, Communication Arts, and the Chicago Design Museum.
Orange Barrel Media
OBM and sister company IKE Smart City pioneer landmark media and smart city technology to improve lives in cities. OBM has been committed to a community-oriented model of media development since its founding in 2004 and is nationally recognized by cities and real estate owners seeking to implement unique media programs that add to the character of urban places. The company’s ongoing innovations and public benefit contributions have differentiated OBM as a leader in the Out-of-Home industry. OBM leveraged that expertise to develop sister company, IKE Smart City, which is blazing the way in smart city initiatives with its interactive digital kiosk, IKE. OBM is currently operating iconic displays in 20 of the top markets nationwide. For more information, visit orangebarrelmedia.com and ikesmartcity.com.
(Source: OBM press release)