In 1935, in exile after fleeing Germany, poet and political philosopher Bertolt Brecht wrote “Writing the Truth: Five Difficulties.” The essay unpacks the difficult imperative of understanding the nature of “truth” amidst the rise of fascism, capitalist exploitation, and land privatization across Europe. truths is an experimental video essay that uses Brecht’s text to explore questions of “truth” in relation to labor. The soundtrack consists of excerpts from interviews with poets and philosophers, including Claudia Rankine, Natalie Diaz, Gayatri Spivak, Eileen Myles, Vanessa Wills, and Silvia Federici, that have been pulled apart and woven together. The visuals consist of long shots of interconnected hidden labor occurring throughout a quickly gentrifying block in Manhattan and span art conservation, meatpacking, and the maintenance of shoreline erosion. Viewers are asked to actively draw connections as what one sees and hears converges and contrasts. Through juxtapositions, insights, schisms, continuities, and cracks, the film frames “truth” as simultaneously physical and abstract, contradictory, porous, felt, unknowable, and perpetually in motion.

This film is supported by the NYFA Women’s Fund for Media Artists and the New York State Council for the Arts.

truths, 2021, 4K video, 2m8s clip from 21m film

truths, 2021, still from 4K video, 21m

Research image with stills from 4K video interviews with Silvia Federici, Claudia Rankine, Erin Cloud, Vanessa Wills, Natalie Diaz, Monica Youn, Sarah Schulman, Clarasita Zambrana, and Eileen Myles