Blogpost: Propaganda Art in the 21st Century book review

Posted by T • November 9, 2019

Posted by T • November 9, 2019

Propaganda Art in the 21st Century

MIT Press

 

Some people say that an accurate portrayal of what is actually happening behind the scenes is the best propaganda.

Fair enough.

However, we are in what is widely considerably to be the “post-truth” era, which significantly shifted the coordinates of how the outworn term is denoted and being used and how it can and what it should be perceived as.

Propaganda, especially of misleading information to push through agendas, and art have always had more than mere superficial overlappings as both ultimately aim at stirring up emotions and actions as well as delivering a message.

Apart from these main objectives, which are the same no matter what the political leaning might be, it also creates a reality onto itself, for which the emissions of regimes governed by specific politics interests are examples par excellence.

In this tome Jonas Staal explores how the focus of “propaganda” has shifted from a merely political narrative to ones that are rooted in whatever motives one’s interests and ideologies may be.

In essence, redefining “propaganda” as both the medium, vehicle, reflection of and reality.

Given this approach, Staal debunks the myth that propaganda is something that is only attached to totalitarian systems and frames it as something that is omnipresent in liberal societies.

What he manages to illustrate both literally and metaphorically is accomplished via comparisons of what once was and what is and it does not lack impact, specifically when he highlights propaganda that by traditional standards would not be perceived as such.

It is interesting to see that no matter if it is the Occupy movement, government initiatives as well as messaging from regimes in Africa and the Middle East ultimately all work in a similar manner and according to formulae

Staal’s elaborations culminate in this plaidoyer for the development of a model that not only acknowledges the interaction and resulting synergies between propaganda and art, but one that can be channelled to create a better world – an emancipatory act of fusing aestheticism and politics to not only reflect but create worlds and realities.

T • November 9, 2019

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