This is the statement made by Mikhail Gorbachev in November 1986 during an official visit to India, with which he wanted to highlight the arrogance of American power and its missile testing program. The operation was clearly  disguised as a “strategic defense initiative” to keep under control the public opinion.

The statement is symbolic, but at the same time it emphasizes how in little more than two decades has been transformed the relationship between citizens and power. With the advent of new virtual squares, is no longer the descent through the streets the only way to make our voices heard, but we all have the potential to transform the global democratic processes with the use of a laptop or even better, a smartphone. The example of Wikileaks then put us in front of the inability of governments to keep hidden a lot of top secret information. At this point we are in a relentless stream of images, texts and information, that can reveal and change even the historical facts.

The statement has been chosen by Freek Lomme, curator of the current exposition space Onomatopee, in Eindhoven, to introduce the project.

#1Truth VS. Government is the first chapter of a larger program that will develop throughout 2012 titled Who told you so?! which will examine the social organization, scène and family to investigate that point of cohesion, through which we tell our own experiences in connection with society. The four exhibitions will be a path through history and storytelling.

Alexandra Domanovic, Turbo Sculpture, 2010. Courtesy the Artist and Onomatopee

 For this first chapter of the project, artists were asked to reflect on the creation of an official historiography by the institutions, which becomes a kind of collective memory shared by society, also in front of obvious revisions and interpretations in favor of power. The audience feels called together with the artists, to expose this flow of official information and reach a dangerous awareness.

Through the works of artists such as Lieven De Boeck (BE), Gokce Suvari (TR), Monika Löve (EE/UK), Slavs and Tartars (INT), Mauro Vallejo (ES), Aleksandra Domanovic (SI/DE), Foundland (NL) e R.E.P. Group (UA), the viewer is facing the revival of public spaces that become the theater of protest, intended not only as squares and streets, but also as social media, newspapers, magazines. The works, although very different to each other as they investigate  completely unrelated cultural contexts, highlight the arrogance of power in wanting to change the historical events to try to obtain consent, at times blurring the objectivity.

But there’s more, the mission of Onomatopee wants that each research project accompanied by the exhibition program is complemented by a series of publications, that become another moment of reflection. So it’s not just a project space, but a small independent institution, which since 2006 promotes and supports the work of artists, designers, critics, curators, politicians and so on. In fact, through NEST Projects and Cabinet Projects, Onomatopee works with anyone with a valid project to be developed through the specific procedures of the space.

Together with the first chapter of  Who told you so?! was presented EEn – A Rosa Poëtica, the last Cabinet project written by Ad van Rosmalen, was accompanied by an exhibition in the second space of Onomatopee.

Alessandra Saviotti: What is EEn – A Rosa Poëtica?

Freek Lomme –  The exhibition is part of our Cabinet project, as you can see the space is laid out in a pretty cryptic way. The perception of the show, in this case, is impossible without the support of the book; reading the book during the visit changes the understanding of space and installation itself. What I find most interesting about this work is its place among what is fiction and what is real. Everything is based on the lives of four members of the collective Rosa that in this case, become actors; therefore it creates a relationship between actors, characters and viewers or readers.

Alessandra Saviotti: Eindhoven is a difficult city, why did you chose to make the project here?

Freek Lomme: The project started in 2006 by three people, an editor, a graphic designer and a writer, as you can read on our website. Eindhoven is a unique city, you can’t say that there is a real artistic community, nobody is really “committed”. Firstly there is not an art academy, the closest are in Den Bosch and Breda, but there is the Design Academy so the interest is biased towards the design. True, there is Van Abbemuseum, but the two communities are not so often in contact. It seems like if at some point the city did implode projects: a lot of support from the beginning, but then when about to make the leap to the final statement, they do not support them as they should. I know many people who at some point  decided to close down their space and spend on other things, unfortunately.

Alessandra Saviotti: And more to the current situation in the Netherlands, about the cuts to culture, the future seems increasingly uncertain..

Freek Lomme: Yes, although I am not so negative. Speaking of Onomatopee, we are still an area of self-production, we work with very little money, and then we say that the cut, if we invest, will change our ways of working, but won’t preclude the future. We are still growing as a small institution. It will be a problem for the spaces that have reached the highest level, which at that point, can see only harm. We’ll see, we are facing a real transition.

It will be the phrase of Stephen King “The trust of the innocent is the liar’s most useful tool” that will anticipate the second chapter # 2 Truth vs. Organisation which will be launched on June 8th. Through the work of artists, including Paul Segers, Jacqueline Schoemakers, Tracy Mackenna & Job Janssen, Azra Akzamija, Elena Bajo, Hank Willis Thomas, Heath Bunting, Edwin Janssen  and Anikó Loránt and Kaszás Tamás  the exhibition will give a view of the ever more massive influence of mass media in creating social communities.