Imbéciles de tous les pays unissez-vous!

Sven Augustijnen



Collection: Courtesy of the Artist and Jan Mot, Brussels.

Sven Augustijnen’s installation Imbéciles de tous les pays unissez-vous! (Fools of All Countries Unite!), is based on research the artist undertook into the conservative right-wing Europe Magazine. First published in 1944 (originally as Grande-Bretagne, then Europe-Amérique from 1945, and finally Europe Magazine from 1953 to 1969), the magazine was funded by the British armed forces and secret service as cold-war propaganda. In Augustijnen’s analysis of the magazine, he has been able to elucidate how propaganda such as Europe Magazine can be seen today as, not only a reflection of how the context of decolonisation turned into a cold-war battleground, but also how former imperial powers conspired to portray their former colonial subjects as incapable and inferior. The artist’s alternative archive, focusing in this display, among others, on the situation of the former Belgian Congo, sits in contrast to the official narrative of colonisation and processes of decolonisation, providing insights into the continuing struggle for self-determination of the newly independent people within the hostile media landscape. Propaganda and information war, as Augustijnen shows us, becomes the new space of subjugation for the ‘free’ people caught in its sights.

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