Jonas Staal: Propaganda Art in the 21st Century (2019)

24 February 2021, dusan

“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, 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.

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 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
230 pages

Interview with author: Pierre d’Alancaisez (New Books Network, 2021, podcast).

Reviews: Christoph Chwatal (Third Text, 2020), Hailey Maxwell (The Drouth, 2020), Joerg Bader (Critique d’art, 2019, FR).

Publisher
WorldCat

PDF, PDF (12 MB, updated on 2021-4-13)

Jonas Staal: Propaganda Art from the 20th to the 21st Century (2018)

26 July 2018, dusan

“This study by artist Jonas Staal explores the development of propaganda art from the 20th to the 21st century. Staal defines propaganda as the performance of power by means of the equation propaganda = power + performance. Through his work as a propaganda researcher and practice as a propaganda artist, he argues that different structures of power generate different forms of propaganda and therefore different forms of propaganda art. Whereas in the context of the 20th century Staal discusses the differences between avant-garde, totalitarian, and modernist propaganda art, in the 21st century he proposes the categories of War on Terror Propaganda Art, Popular Propaganda Art, and Stateless Propaganda Art. By means of concrete examples of artists and artworks within each of these categories, he attempts to show how the performance of power in the 21st century translates into different visual forms, and how they shape and direct our reality. Staal’s study shows that power and art exist in continuous interaction. Propaganda and propaganda art are not terms that only refer to the past, but concepts and practices through which we can understand the construction of reality in the present.”

PhD Dissertation, Faculty of Humanities, University of Leiden
Open access
425 pages

Publisher

PDF, PDF (2 MB)
Video (12 min)

Media-N, 12(3): Uncovering News: Reporting and Forms of New Media Art (2017)

18 February 2018, dusan

“As the highly contested term “fake news” has become omnipresent in our media sphere and as the hacking of private networks for political gain have dominated the global news cycle, Media-N’s new issue is well positioned to uncover the complex relationship between media art and the multifarious forms of news reportage. We find in this wide-ranging journal issue, new media artists, writers, and theoreticians attempting to reveal, expose, and protest the production, rhetoric, and dissemination of news. Exploiting or subverting the existing network or creating alternative technologies, codes, or platforms, new media artists has probed the hegemonic grip of tradition forms of media production. Employing the raw material of journalism or intervening in the distribution and transmission of news information, artists have effectively critiqued or reimagined the unstable and fluid spaces of the contemporary news sphere. The nature of news information and its relationship to concepts of reality, truth, aesthetics, and the public and private are all at play in this issue.” (from Introduction)

With contributions by Erica Levin, Randall Packer, Kris Paulsen, Erin McElroy, Lisa Moren, Brandon Bauer, Rick Valentin, Francesca Franco, Yasuhito Abe, Vincent Cellucci, Jesse Allison, Derick Ostrenko, and Mina Cheon.

Guest editors: Abigail Susik and Grant Taylor
Publisher New Media Caucus, 2017
Open Access
ISSN 1942-017X

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