Jonas Staal: Ultranationalism and the Art of the Stateless State

There doesn’t seem to be a worse moment than the present to defend the project of stateless internationalism. The recent European elections of May 2014 showed the growing influence of ultranationalist parties on the political establishment; in terms of representation in the European Parliament, ultranationalist parties became the largest parties in France (National Front), Denmark (Danish People’s Party), and the United Kingdom (United Kingdom Independence Party), while gaining substantial ground in Austria (Freedom Party of Austria) and Sweden (Swedish Democrats), and remaining relatively stable in the Netherlands (Freedom Party). They suffered heavy losses in Belgium (Flemish Interest), but this was due to the success of a slightly more moderate and competing nationalist party (New Flemish Alliance). The next step for these ultranationalist parties has been to seek alliances and prepare to deliver the final blow to the supra-nationalist managerial project of the European Union. Their challenge is to convince EU parliamentarians from seven or more different countries to unite in order to, as Le Pen has said, make the EU “disappear and be replaced by a Europe of nations that are free and sovereign.”


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Jonas Staal (1981) has studied monumental art at the AKI in Enschede, NL and Boston USA. He currently works on his PhD research entitled Art and Propaganda in the 21st Century at PhDArts program of the University of Leiden, the Netherlands. He is the founder of the artistic and political organization New World Summit that develops alternative parliaments for stateless organizations banned from democratic discourse and, together with BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, Utrecht, of the New World Academy, that connects stateless political organizations to artists and students. Staal is further the co-initiator of the Allegories project (2011-ongoing, with Carolien Gehrels and Hans van Houwelingen) that organizes debates and collaborations between artists and progressive political organizations, as well as of the Artist Organizations International platform (2015-ongoing, with Florian Malzacher and Joanna Warsza), which connects artist-led organizations through conferences and international exchanges.

His work includes interventions in public space, exhibitions, lectures, and publications, focusing on the relationship between art, politics and ideology. His essay Post-propaganda (Fonds BKVB, 2009) and publication Power?… To Which People?! (Jap Sam Books, 2010) provides the theoretical basis for this line of work. His most recent books are Nosso Lar, Brasília (Jap Sam Books, 2014), a research into the relationship between spiritism and modernism in Brazilian architecture, and The Art of Creating a State (BAK, basis voor actuele kunst, 2014, with Moussa Ag Assarid), on the role of art in the representation of the unacknowledged state of Azawad.

The first overview of the New World Summit was exhibited in Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana SL (Art of the Stateless State, 2015). Staal’s projects were further exhibited in the Van Abbemuseum in Eindhoven NL (Trickster’s Tricked, 2010; Freethinkers’ Space Continued, 2012); the David Roberts Art Foundation in London UK (History of Art, the, 2010); Extra City Kunsthal Antwerpen BE (1:1, 2011); Kadist Art Foundation in Paris FR (Enacting Populism, 2011); Lunds Konsthall, Lund SE (Don’t Embarrass the Bureau, 2014); Museum for Contemporary Art Belgrade (Invisible Violence, 2014); BAK, Utrecht NL (How Much Fascism?, 2012; New World Academy, 2013; New World Embassy, 2014); de Appel, Amsterdam NL (Vote Back!, 2012); the 7th Berlin Biennale in Berlin DE (2012), the 1st Kochi-Muziris Biennial in Kochi IN (2013) and the 31st São Paulo Biennale in São Paulo BR (2014). He regularly publishes in books, newspapers and magazines – his written work appeared in e-flux journal, Manifesta journal, Frakcija magazine, Metropolis M, nY, NRC Handelsblad and de Groene Amsterdammer.

Staal lives and works in Rotterdam, NL.

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Website: Jonas Staal