This research project by artist Jonas Staal explores the development of propaganda art from the 20th to the 21st century. Although it is often assumed propaganda belongs to the history of so-called “totalitarian” states, Staal shows that modern propaganda has its origins in British democracy, and as such, is applicable to all modern structures of power in the past and present.
Staal’s research shows that power and art exist in continuous interaction. Different structures of power create the conditions for different forms of art, while art simultaneously contributes to visualizing, communicating, and legitimizing power. Power and art are not the same thing, but should not be examined separately to one another. 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.