LINDA BALETA, The Balkan Forum
A walk around Prishtina, Kosovo, exposes you to colorful and engaging paintings in public spaces. Since 2017, Prishtina has been a destination for Meeting of Styles (MOS), which brings together artists from the world to enable intercultural and cross-border cooperation. Besides the murals that are a product of the MOS, the city is overtaken by street art: graffiti, murals, drawings.
Some are bold and direct, while some are more subtle or even abstract. At first sight, their purpose is to display art for all to enjoy and revel in its delight. At a closer look, each mural around Prishtina has explicit or implicit messages.
The mural “Broken Dreams” by artist Fitore Berisha seeks to raise awareness of women and girls about domestic violence. It is dedicated to all women and girls murdered by their husbands or partners. It is painted on the wall of an apartment building in a busy street near Prishtina center.
The bright orange mural showing a girl with a suitcase with the slogan “I don’t want to live I want to leave” can by interpreted in various ways by the passersby. It can be a protest of the artist against current circumstances, or it can be a message about the isolation of Kosovo.
Is street art another effective tool for propaganda and message diffusion, in a format that infiltrates the emotions of its audience?
“Street art is where artists express themselves. If it from the bottom, from the people, it cannot be propaganda. But the same platform can be used for propaganda,” says Mkrtich Tonoyan, Director of Akos, a cultural NGO in Armenia, one of the participants in the workshop “Resilient Journalism Countering Disinformation and Propaganda” in Skopje, where Tonoyan gave a presentation about art and propaganda.
George Orwell has famously said that all art is propaganda but not all propaganda is art.
Tomorrow, when I go out, I will do so with the intention to observe the surrounding street art in an effort to discern its explicit or implicit meaning and messages. Decoding the message will probably help connect the dots as to the person behind the art is, and what is the influence they are trying to exert upon me.
The workshop “Resilient Journalism Countering Disinformation and Propaganda” is a joint project of CIVIL (North Macedonia) and youth4media (Germany), supported by the State Government of North-Rhine Westfalia.
About The Balkan Forum
The Balkan Forum promotes a shared vision for the region based on economic integration, prosperity, and sustainable peace. By facilitating cross-border and cross-sector dialogue we generate new thinking on regional challenges and opportunities, help incubate ideas to catalyze regional initiatives.