Terms like fake news, alternative facts and the post-truth era have become common knowledge in the age of the growing Nationalist International: from Trumpism in the United States to the rule of Orbán in Hungary and the League in Italy. To grasp the rise of new forms of authoritarianism, propaganda studies are a crucial tool, but we also must look at the particular role of propaganda art. How has the imaginary of art, theater, film, design, architecture and even games, contributed to the authoritarian imagination? And can we imagine forms of popular and emancipatory propaganda art to defend another world view? In this lecture, artist and propaganda researcher Jonas Staal will discuss various examples of contemporary propaganda art: from his exhibition on the films of alt-right proponent Steve Bannon to his work for the autonomous Rojava government in North-Syria and the Democracy in Europe Movement 2025 (DiEM25).
Jonas Staal (1981) is artist and founder of the artistic and political organization New World Summit (2012–ongoing) and the campaign New Unions (2016–ongoing). Staal’s work includes interventions in public space, exhibitions, theater plays, publications, and lectures, focusing on the relationship between art, democracy, and propaganda. Recent solo exhibitions include Art of the Stateless State (Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana, 2015), After Europe (State of Concept, Athens, 2016), Museum as Parliament (with the Democratic Federation of Northern Syria, Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven, 2018), and Steve Bannon: A Propaganda Retrospective (Het Nieuwe Instituut, 2018). His projects have been exhibited widely, among others at the 7th Berlin Biennial (2012), the 31st São Paulo Biennale (2014), and the Oslo Architecture Triennial (2016). Recent books by Staal include Nosso Lar, Brasília (Jap Sam Books, 2014), Stateless Democracy (with co-editors Dilar Dirik and Renée In der Maur, BAK, 2015), and Steve Bannon: A Propaganda Retrospective (Het Nieuwe Instituut, 2018). The artist is a regular contributor to e-flux journal and completed his PhD research Propaganda Art from the 20th to the 21st Century at the PhDArts program of the University of Leiden.
Image: People’s Parliament of Rojava (2015–18), Democratic Federation of Northern Syria and Studio Jonas Staal. Photo: Ruben Hamelink.
The lecture is organized by VI PER Gallery and the Studio of the Visiting Artist, Academy of Fine Arts in Prague. Supported by the Embassy of the Netherlands in the Czech Republic.