Link to installation view
The year is 1950, and the American radio-show Truth or Consequences is about to celebrate its tenth anniversary. To mark the occasion, host Ralph Edwards announces that he will arrange a special recording from whichever American town agrees to rename itself after his popular quiz show. This contest is won by Hot Springs, New Mexico. Built on ancient Apache land, the small town is located on the banks of the Rio Grande. From this moment on, Hot Springs will be known as Truth or Consequences.

The starting point was rather arbitrary. A striking name was enough to initially captivate Ronan Guillou, offering a glimpse of mysterious promise. Then came the town behind the name: a natural and human desert where all bearings have been lost. The strong interaction between the photographer and the environment he discovered with precious wonder is striking. Contrasts in Truth or Consequences are freely explored, following encounters, discoveries, and stories. For the first time, Ronan Guillou has extended his artistic language to sound and text. As if this town-challenge necessitated backup to conquer the truth invoked by its improbable name. The resulting combination of media has something cinematographic about it. Temporality expands, situated less in a precise instant than in the question of what is in the process of becoming.

By inviting me to conceive the exhibition with him, Ronan Guillou was continuing the pleasure of audacity that had accompanied him throughout his stay in Truth or Consequences. Together we let ourselves be surprised. My young and possibly ingenuous eye, utterly uninitiated to the town, was associated with, and exchanged with his sharp and informed perspective, to complete and question it. In the course of our selection, of our evolving dialogue, intuition was also an essential factor. The experience went on.

It was important to avoid the pitfalls inherent in the collective imagination and preconceptions of the United States, already reinforced by the metaphorical power of the expression ‘Truth or Consequences’ that triggered the project. Concealed first in the midst of a vast sand plain, American quotations remain discrete. Left on the threshold of the exhibition, they open an unexpected path through impressions of a rewritten town. We worked attentively on the circulation between the different media. Respondingto one another, they afford a deep immersion in a score for several voices: the inhabitants’, Ronan’s, later mine, and, eventually, the visitors’ voices cross and combine, presenting a variety of ways into a flexible and rhythmic narration, allowing the leisure to lose oneself at the crossroads of the myths and realities of this territory.

Lily Matras