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As we integrate “fact-checking” into the way we consume social media and the news, we face a dilemma: what do we do when we know we are being lied to? The 20th annual City-Wide Open Studios: F(r)act or Fiction? takes this question as a point of inquiry into four weekends of art-looking, through the commissioning of twelve projects that challenge the distinctions we make between “reality” and “illusion", “fact” and “fiction", “history" and "myth".  Here are a few highlights:


In the three channel video, Paradise Unlimited, Artist Young Joo Lee imagines the Korean Demilitarized Zone as a place of contradictory energies--  reconciliation, propaganda, fear, danger, and sanctuary. The two outer screens show the opposing military sides, while the middle screen casts the DMZ as a feminine entity that allures both groups. As the soldiers enter the forest, it undresses them.

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garden - pleasure is a project by architects Ian Donaldson, Daniel Glick-Unterman, and Olisa Agulue that imagines what a garden can be. The architects invited a group of artists, psychologists, writers, journalists to run wild with this idea, manifesting a set of possibilities through the design of seven wooden structures, which offered interior places for reflection and retreat.  Project collaborators included: Carr Chadwick, Dwight Portocarrero, Lani Barry, Polina Vasilyeva, Suzie Marchelewicz, Caitlin Baiada, Christian Golden, Jeannette Hinkle, Caitlin Thissen, Hyeree Kwak, Isabelle Song, Kevin Huang, Yo-E Ryou, and Matthew Wolff.


Brainwashed by Zeph Farmby confronts racist cultural tropes and stereotypes popularized, perpetuated and distributed by time-honored American cartoons. Using painting as a tool for pausing to reflect on the darker unbelly of animated footage, Farmby highlights how fiction, enhanced with color, humor, and sound, can send oppressive messages that go undetected, are endemic to U.S. culture, and are especially damaging to the formation of young consumers.  The work contemplates cartoons as one of many pop culture products that sells itself as a naïve vehicle for storytelling that has the power to shape an individual’s sense of self and others.

Image Credits

top: Photo by Stephanie Anestis, Courtesy Artspace New Haven.

middle: Photo by Kirk Donaldson, Courtesy Artspace New Haven.

bottom: Photo by Sarah Fritchey, Courtesy Artspace New Haven.

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