Propaganda Art in the 21st Century

October 30, 2020
Propaganda Art in the 21st Century

How to understand propaganda art in the post-truthera―and how to create a new kind of emancipatory propagandaart.Propaganda art―whether a depiction of joyous workers in thestyle of socialist realism or a film directed by SteveBannon―delivers a message. But, as Jonas Staal argues in thisilluminating and timely book, propaganda does not merely make apolitical point; it aims to construct reality itself. Politicalregimes have shaped our world according to their interests andideology; today, popular mass movements push back by constructingother worlds with their own propagandas. In Propaganda Art inthe 21st Century, Staal offers an essential guide forunderstanding propaganda art in the post-truth era.Staal shows that propaganda is not a relic of a totalitarianpast but occurs today even in liberal democracies. He considersdifferent historical forms of propaganda art, from avant-garde tototalitarian and modernist, and he investigates the us versusthem dichotomy promoted in War on Terror propagandaart―describing, among other things, a fictional scenario from theDepartment of Homeland Security, acted out in real time, andmilitary training via videogame. He discusses artistic and culturalproductions developed by such popular mass movements of thetwenty-first century as the Occupy, activism by and in support ofundocumented migrants and refugees, and struggles for liberation insuch countries as Mali and Syria.Staal, both a scholar of propaganda and a self-describedpropaganda artist, proposes a new model of emancipatory propagandaart―one that acknowledges the relation between art and power andtakes both an aesthetic and a political position in the practice ofworld-making.