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“How to understand propaganda art in the post-truth era—and how to create a new kind of emancipatory propaganda art.
Propaganda art—whether a depiction of joyous workers in the style of socialist realism or a film directed by Steve Bannon—delivers a message. But, as Jonas Staal argues in this illuminating and timely book, propaganda does not merely make a political point; it aims to construct reality itself. Political regimes have shaped our world according to their interests and ideology; today, popular mass movements push back by constructing other worlds with their own propagandas. In Propaganda Art in the 21st Century, Staal offers an essential guide for understanding propaganda art in the post-truth era.
Staal shows that propaganda is not a relic of a totalitarian past but occurs today even in liberal democracies. He considers different historical forms of propaganda art, from avant-garde to totalitarian and modernist, and he investigates the us versus them dichotomy promoted in War on Terror propaganda art—describing, among other things, a fictional scenario from the Department of Homeland Security, acted out in real time, and military training via videogame. He discusses artistic and cultural productions developed by such popular mass movements of the twenty-first century as the Occupy, activism by and in support of undocumented migrants and refugees, and struggles for liberation in such countries as Mali and Syria.
Staal, both a scholar of propaganda and a self-described propaganda artist, proposes a new model of emancipatory propaganda art—one that acknowledges the relation between art and power and takes both an aesthetic and a political position in the practice of world-making.”
Publisher MIT Press, September 2019
ISBN 9780262042802, 0262042800
Interview with author: Pierre d’Alancaisez (New Books Network, 2021, podcast).
“Degrowth and Progress is the second in a series looking at other potential narratives for mapping our current landscape through redefining the social, political and economic terms of engagement. Following the e-publication Austerity and Utopia, L’Internationale Online presents a second collection of interventions to think through two apparently distant concepts. Artists, thinkers and researchers were invited to reflect on a dissimilar pair of themes as fertile ground for thought and proposition. With this new issue, we would like to pursue a path of reflection to interrogate the ambivalence of a possible progression of degrowth, and attempt to stage a hybrid scenario of speculative thought and action. This collection draws upon the complexity of ethical, ecological and political frameworks and reveals other perspectives on the current crisis through critical essays, storytelling, science fiction, biomorphic design, audiovisual traces of artistic practices and allegorical maps. Progress was the firstborn of modernity, a major promise of continuous development towards the perfection of ‘humankind’. But progress in whose name? To whose benefit? With the exclusion of whom? Progress towards what kind of model? The notion of progress, besides being Eurocentric and linked to colonialism, has been the ideological framework for liberalism itself. The ideal of a continuous, progressive and desirable advancement of civilisation has been reframed in recent decades with ‘sustainable development’. But isn’t sustainability a concept far too simplistic to be able to address real questions of poverty, exploitation, segregation, congestion, depletion of land, desertification, terraforming, or the mass extinction of species? Could we think in a different direction about progress?”
With essays by Vincent Liegey, Cristina Cámara, Vladan Joler, Ajda Pistotnik, Paula Pin Lage, Marta Echaves, and Ida Hiršenfelder, an interview with Silvia Federici by Sara Buraya Boned, and a conversation between Monica Narula and Nataša Petrešin-Bachelez moderated by Corina Oprea.
Publisher L’Internationale Online, 2021
Creative Commons BY-NC-SA License
“Actions of Art and Solidarity presents 76 works by artists, activists, collectives and thinkers from around the world, including Norway, catalysing cultural, socio-political and environmental solidarity across different geographies and contexts from the 1950s to the present day. Looking back in time and forward into the future, the exhibition displays artists’ extraordinary ability to narrate and build empathy around fundamental global conflicts and injustices, and provide the radical imaginaries of care and solidarity that can stimulate their resolution. The venue, Kunstnernes Hus (The Artists’ House, Oslo) has a symbolic value, since the institution has played a recurrent part in Norway’s own contribution to artistic solidarities – from presenting Pablo Picasso’s Guernica in 1938 during its international solidarity tour, to organising exhibitions of solidarity with other parts of the world. The exhibition also presents central instances of Norwegian solidarity artistic practices, as well as new works especially commissioned for the exhibition.
The case studies included in the exhibition have been sourced across four continents, and cover a 70-year time span of artistic creativity. The exhibition proposes that the solidarity imaginaries expressed by art works, and embodied by specific artistic actions, are always the outcome of the extensive processes of artist-led care-building that precede and succeed them. Moreover, it is those very networks of personal connectivity and empathy created by artists over time around a particular issue (in alliance and in friendship with everyday citizens and activists) and configured within their art works of solidarity, that inspire society at large to imagine life differently and step-forward in ways that generate profound transformation.”
Curated by Katya García-Antón with Liv Brissach, Itzel Esquivel, Drew Snyder and Aban Raza
Publisher Kunstnernes Hus, Oslo, January 2021
“In an extraordinary socio-political turmoil that shoved Yugoslavia into a war and complete international isolation during the 1990s, activity in culture and the arts was one of possible ways to survive and not be drowned in cataclysmic reality. Under those circumstances, in 1993 painter Nikola Džafo has found Led Art (Ice Art) group. Its projects bear the epithet of engaged art that resisted the regime of Slobodan Milosevic. Led Art gathered more than 300 individuals in close to fifty projects during the ten-year activity period: artists, sociologists, art historians, journalists, scientists. This book covers the activities of the group and the chronology of the social and political events in the former Yugoslavia.”
Translated by Goran Mimica and Svetozar Poštić
Publisher Multi-media center Led Art, Novi Sad, 2020
PDF (23 MB)
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“Produced for the 1972 Museum of Modern Art exhibition, Italy: The New Domestic Lanscape, Supersurface was the first of five films planned by Superstudio as a ‘critical reappraisal of the possibility of life without objects’. Superstudio envisioned a ‘network of energy and information extending to every properly inhabitable area’. According to the artists, this network would bring about the destruction of objects as status symbols, the elimination of the city as an accumulation of formal structures of power, and the end of specialized and repetitive work as an alienating activity. ‘The logical consequence,’ they write, ‘will be a new, revolutionary society in which everyone should find the full development of his possibilities’. Although only two of the films were ever completed, Superstudio published storyboards and texts for the entire project, entitled Five Fundamental Acts: Life, Education, Ceremony, Love and Death. Addressing the first of these five acts, Supersurface presents ‘an alternative model for life on earth’ in which the ‘network of energy and information’ is represented by grids and images of technology superimposed on a collage of natural and inhabited landscapes peopled by families engaged in domestic and leisure activities.”
via Radical Architecture, HT joost rekveld