Could art hold the answer to questions such as what is truth? Perhaps it is time to start listening asks Kate Wolstenholme

As I write an opinion column, a form of journalism which gives the permission to be subjective over objective, I ask you, what is truth?

It is one of the most pressing questions of our generation whilst we live in a world becoming more and more saturated with different interpretations and mistruths.

Are we being fed a new reality with AI and machine-learning progressively starting to dominate our lives?

Are we being given the truth about the world through the various forms of media appearing?

Are we projecting the full, unfiltered truth about ourselves out into the world? The camera never lies… right? Wrong. Perhaps we have a wildly incorrect memory and depiction of historical events?

It’s a lot to think about, isn’t it? Oh look, another question. Questions we can never have just one answer for – or, potentially, may never have any answers for. So, let’s talk. 

By opening up a space for education, awareness and discussion, art can be used to tackle and address some of the most pressing questions we are increasingly desperate to know some of the answers to.

Just like a human being won’t have all the answers, neither will art. But by listening to the voices of these pieces of art, many of which have witnessed so much of history and have their own heritage, we can begin to understand some of the questions asked.

Society has begun to lose faith in previously trusted sources of power, yet whilst we are seeing that this has given more investment in social media, this is not the solution as it can be an echo-chamber platform which is often the cause of mis-diversion and fake news.

Museums still command an incredibly high level of societal trust.

They have a responsibility to listen to these voices and harness the conversations and learnings which can come of this. As we invest in these relationships, we learn, get inspired and inspire others.

Creative spaces have the obligation to host and be the catalyst for discussion and thought. For the more shy of us, a wander round a gallery and a chat to art is possibly the most comfortable way to discuss that which is of less comfort.

When these thoughts and discussions walk out of the gallery, this is when change occurs.
The Sainsbury Centre’s latest season will ask What Is Truth?, through four key, interlinked exhibitions – In Event of Moon Disaster, Liquid Gender, Jeffrey Gibson: no simple word for time and The Camera Never Lies – bringing together some of the world’s leading artists and creative thinkers.

We increasingly cannot believe what we see in front of our eyes. When you see President Nixon reading out a speech from a TV screen in In Event of Moon Disaster, after the Apollo 11 moon landing was met with disaster, we know this is not the truth, but a deepfake appears to tell us otherwise.

What seem like factual, historical images in The Camera Never Lies: Challenging images through The Incite Project, could really be a wild misrepresentations of events, as we can only see what is happening through a single, narrow lens.

Jeffrey Gibson illuminates the rich practice of abstraction in Indigenous art, going against the common narrative within UK museums that abstraction only emerged in the 20th century.

Plus, societal constructs of gender are broken down and shown to be false through the works of various artists in Liquid Gender.

What Is Truth? runs from February 17 to October 20 at the Sainsbury Centre in Norwich.