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, 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 propaganda.
Jonas Staal speaks to Pierre d’Alancaisez about his proposal for a new model of emancipatory propaganda art — one that acknowledges the relationship between art and power and takes both an aesthetic and a political position in the practice of world-making.
Jonas Staal is a scholar of propaganda and a self-described propaganda artist. He is the founder of the artistic and political organization New World Summit (2012–ongoing) and the campaign New Unions (2016–ongoing). With BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, he cofounded the New World Academy (2013–16). His most recent project Collectivize Facebook exploring legal ways to return the ownership of data in its many forms to the collective ownership of the users of software platforms.
The last twenty years have seen a rise in the production, circulation, and criticism of new forms of socially engaged art aimed at achieving social justice and economic equality.
Leigh Claire La Berge, author of Wages Against Artwork, speaks with Pierre d’Alancaisez about what she calls decommodified labour — the slow diminishment of wages alongside an increase in the demands of work. Outlining the ways in which artists relate to work, La Berge examines how artists and organizers create institutions to address their own precarity and why the increasing presence of animals and children in contemporary art points to the turn away from paid labour.
Leigh Claire La Berge is Assistant Professor of English at Borough of Manhattan Community College, City University of New York. She’s the author of Scandals and Abstraction (about which she spoke on an earlier episode), and co-editor of Reading Capitalist Realism. She’s currently working on expanding her project Marx for Cats, initiated with Caroline Woolard and Or Zubalsky.
What is the role and function of contemporary art in economic and political systems that increasingly manage data and affect? Knowledge Beside Itself delves into the peculiar emphasis placed in recent years, curatorially and institutionally, on notions such as “research” and “knowledge production.”
Pierre d’Alancaisez speaks with Tom Holert, author of Knowledge Beside Itself about the history of art’s fraught relationship with knowledge and its opposition to scientific notions of epistemology, as well as about art’s complicity in the “epistemic mammoth” of the knowledge economy.
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