Who do you believe is telling the truth, and why do you believe them?
If Vietnam was the first live conflict on television, Syria is the first on YouTube. The number of minutes uploaded exceeds the number of real-time minutes which have passed since the conflict began on Tuesday 15 March 2011. Every day, this number rises as the vicious conflict creeps onward, but does the quantity of material available mean we understand what is happening on the ground any better?
In the illustrious environment of the Imperial War Museum, London, we invite participants to actively and intimately think about how to make sense of what we hear from Syria. Taking evidence from specific events during the battle of Aleppo in late 2016, this experience asks: is confusion a weapon being used to stop the international community from acting, and who controls the fog of war?
From poking at the suspicious intentions of state run television networks, to grappling with our cloudy internal prejudice, I SWEAR TO TELL THE TRUTH is a thought-provoking experience inviting you to inspect how social and information networks have affected your perception of the world we live in, and your place in it.
Using instructional audio, documentary interview material, a booklet, participatory exercises, and two audio-visual installations, the piece asks audiences to consider why it is they believe what they believe – going from the personal, to the site of the museum itself, to our collective and individual understanding of what is going on in the Syria conflict. You must regard the museum and the people in it, you must imagine what those other people are like and then go and speak to them. You must get involved at the Bureau of Alternative Facts, creating subversive histories for the objects that sit on Level 2. You must read out text written for you – that goes from a serious appraisal of a museum exhibit to a ridiculous claim that could never be true, but feels juicy to say out loud in this subtly-lit, revered place. Exercises and experiences that beckon interaction with other real humans prepare you to encounter Syria from a different angle – and you are left questioning your own role in the dissemination of truth in today’s world.