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Propaganda by the People

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Description of idea

Describe your idea and concept of your work in relation to the festival outlines:

We believe Europe needs a new story. Not a new story from Brussels or one of the national governments, they failed before. That's why we try it ourselves, together with you: crowdsourced Propaganda by the People. Let's try and find new common ground on Europe. Let's try to make a uniting, inclusive story on the Europe we like, love, or would like to love. A story that goes further than just the EU, but a story that brings together cultural, geographical and political Europe. All your stories together will make the first crowdsourced European Propagandamovie ever.

Crowdsourced Propaganda takes the essence of propaganda. Where propaganda was used by the few to influence many we want to create a new story and new visual language of Europe with the masses and with this change the European narrative bottom-up.

Propaganda by the People is a crowdsourced project to obtain a new European narrative and new European language.

We give people the opportunity to tell their own stories about Europe, we do so by the clichés of propaganda.

Crowdsourcing propaganda is a self-fulfilling prophecy. When people share their stories and imagery through our application, they make propaganda for their Europe, and motivate people within their network to shape new stories and propaganda. So the more people we can reach, the wider shared this story-in-progress can be. Together all the individual stories and submissions bring a new European story, built from the images and comments from all participants. Stories that we gather actively in application workshops and street actions with various groups and at various locations in Europe. The project could continue endlessly in a way, because a story on Europe will always change, but we want to filter an overarching story of all contributions in September 2016.

What kind of communication approach do you use?

We want to get Europe back from the EU and look for a new, inclusive narrative about Europe.

In the development phase, we first have gradually developed a workshop in which people have contributed offline, through posters templates and markers. So far 750 Europeans have contributed and drawn one or more posters. With the experiences we converted the workshop into an online version. At our project website is an animated film. This animation explains in 1.5 minutes, the European story of all participants until now. What do they think of Europe? Where we have to fight? What are we protecting? As a user, you can also contribute to the film. You can pause the animation at any time and add your opinion and draw in the frame. You can then save the frame with your description. The frame is then added to the film where other viewers can comment on your frame and start a discussion.

This Summer we will remain traveling with the animation, but the website should make it easy for people to contribute from home or implement this workshop in there own project.

What are in your opinion concrete benefits to the society because of your communication?

Propaganda by the People comprises a work ethic that is greater than the sum of its parts. By going into the streets we try to understand the story of Europe. It is impossible to judge about Europe without knowing the experience of the Europeans themselves. Here we find the stories and their necessity.

The old woman on a street bench, an outgoing school, a sightseer and a couple of street promoters, all are suitable participants for our project. Every moment of the day and everyone is capable of the encompassing European story. We do not need great stories need for a good contribution. We ask the participants for the small, everyday, nearest images for all of us.

Local events and the ordinary, the things that are question the very least, what do they mean for Europe? The street workshops provide a platform for the sake of these everyday stories. These workshops resulted in a diverse sum that is easy enough to understand for passersby and put together a story that they had not seen before.

In our globalized world, the result is the growing reach of the mass media, the belief in a one-sided story, and this serves is the feeling of fear of the other. In this Europe we want to hear an alternative voice, from unilateral to multifaceted storytelling. Stories that we do not know yet but we are all part of his every day.

What did you personally learn from creating your submitted work?

The project provides an opportunity to mock classical propaganda. The film provides a platform for your opinion. At previous workshops we noticed comments on the posters has a great added value. On the website under the application we want to reserve this space for discussion and rally told stories about Europe. This creates non-collection of images a collection of personal stories and ideas.

The big challenge was to make the visual (propaganda) story strong, but also to express the strong content. That content is in the propaganda film, but for this the context was also very important.

Why is your work, GOOD communication WORK?

It should not be surprising that we, the authors, partly do this project from commitment. We are all pro-European and look for open borders, free movement of persons and goods, peace through cooperation etc no alternative. Of course, nothing neutral to propaganda, but the project is not called ‘propaganda for Europe’ on purpose. Leave propaganda for the EU. It is European Propaganda by the People, in terms of their European story, whether it is negative or positive.
Nationalistic politicians such as Wilders' statements came into view as the great necessity why Europe needs a new narrative. That may be so, but we also want to properly investigate his supporters what Europe is about. Then we must create a project as neutral as possible. That’s why we try - as neutral as possible - to filter out a narrative and visual language that Europe and following the EU, could bring itself ‘further’ and could strengthen with.
This project stems from commitment, but certainly also from curiosity to experiment. All we have been working on in recent years is searching the limits of our profession: making documentary clarify complicated stories. With great crowdfunded projects like The Sochi Project, with the VPRO Backlight Big Data project The Shell Search, the interactive music video Hidden Wounds. Propaganda by the People goes one step further, not only by its interactivity, but also the end goal. We will not only document, this time we want to intervene.

Where and how do you intent do implement your work?

Our online project we are trying to reach the widest possible audience, through our media partners, through our Facebook page. We do not have a target group, except that we hope to reach the widest possible audience. Therefore, we organize workshops abroad with the focus groups that we think we will not achieve naturally or find important or useful; nationalists, Eurosceptics and youth.
At the end of the project we try to explore the submitted propaganda who sent propaganda (country of origin, age, education) in order to arrive at a fairly representative idea. But we're also going to approach the entries journalistic / documentary. Maybe there is one fantastic story not as representative of many other entries, but we feel that it very well could connect with those, or just tells an interesting story that can appeal to others.
By maintaining as much contacts as possible, we can go with this final story (in the form of a 'frozen' animation, an item, and possibly a short film) back to all participants. Also, this story is the final point in the series for media partners as VPRO Backlight.

Did your intervention had an effect on other Media. If yes, describe the effect? (Has other media reported on it- how? Were you able to change other media with your work- how?)

VPRO Backlight & VPRO digitally are the main platform where we open the campaign in the Netherlands. Propaganda by the People has been linked to the VPRO since we offered our workshops in September 2015 at the broadcast 'Branding Europe'. Head of digital VPRO Backlight Jasper Koning created an online drawing workshop on their website with us.

De Balie / European Cultural Forum organizes in different places (Ukraine, Bulgaria, England) workshops, street actions and took us with them.

New Europeans / Europe by People provided a cultural side program around the summit in Amsterdam 2016. Propaganda by the People is included with an extensive presence on 'The Wall', the wall along the Marine area where the summit is organized.

We noted in the offline beta phase of development of this project that many agencies were already clamoring to our stories, results and methodology. We hope to connect to more media partners, because our application should be good embeddable within third-party sites.

Curators comments More info on Curators & Editors ›

This is an energised and energising project. While not ostensibly about or on the theme of pleasure, it nonetheless captures one of the most intimate sources of pleasure: togetherness. Whether it is physical touch or the jamming of ideas, togetherness enables the spread of collective energy, the bristle of intervention into the public sphere and the possibility of hope.

The work exhibited here is of course one iteration of what could be many expressions of time-based events and experiences. Partly serving the role of documentation, it is most importantly a media and mediated fusion of pleasure on the streets.

View other works commented by Darren Tofts  ››

Hello Arnold,

I find the Theory of Change to this project very compelling and timely. It is clear that in Europe, and globally, people feel fed up with tired Institutions and stale bureaucratic control. Opening up a project in a truly crowdsourced manner - for people to articulate their frustrations and vision for Europe in person and online is ambitious and important.

Your online crowdsource tool is really cool! I found the user experience easy to navigate and I wanted to jump in and play. Being able to contribute to a crowdsourced film and draw a frame is innovative and is a good application of technology, not just for technology's sake (as often happens in tech and progressive circles) but to create new ways for people to participate in new and meaningful ways.

And your approach to source stories both online and offline through workshops, and to reach out to participants who you may disagree with ideologically - Eurosceptics and nationalists - show that you've thought deeply about how to bring in diverse voices to the project.

My main questions were about distribution and your project's ultimate aim.

- From what I understand, despite sourcing stories from a diversity of participants, you've still articulated a fairly unified vision in your curation of the pieces and in your videos (anti-GMO, anti-corporate tax dodgers, pro-refugee). So there is a tension here between your stated intention (bringing in diverse voices "of the people") and perhaps your true ultimate intention (perhaps demonstrating that somewhat diverse voices in Europe, who feel their voices are not heard in this current system, are calling for the EU to move towards the vision you articulate.) How could this be addressed in your Theory of Change?

- Also, a key element of propaganda is that it is distributed to audiences to mobilize them and embolden them towards a particular aim. You've talked about the media partners interested in the project and who have collaborated to generate participants. Beyond individuals on social media, and your website, how are you distributing the content you've created? How are you making sure it reaches your intended audience? Are you driving towards a specific change you'd like to see? if so, who are the strategic targets who need to see the content you've created, to deliver your message? how will you reach them?

I realize this also creates a tension with your intended 'for the people, by the people' approach. But I believe you need both a centralized, high-level approach as well as a topiary grassroots approach in the distribution.

So: you have a distribution strategy to 1) source participants and 2) distribute your propaganda message. And this might require distributing outside of progressive-friendly outlets. As we saw in the US election, we need to think about how to break away from the liberal "inclusive" bubble that doesn't actually reach the masses.

- I'm also curious about what you might add as a 'call-to-action' at the end of your videos. Something that clearly says "go to this website and participate in making this video by sharing your vision for Europe." or "draw your own frame of what Europe looks like for you at xxxx". to drive to participation more clearly.

- I would also like to know more about your selection of colors and aesthetic. You've made choices as the creator to create a simpler frame for participants. In doing this, you've developed an aesthetic that will compel some audiences more than others (i.e. younger audiences).

Thanks for your work - and look forward to following this project.

View other works commented by Marie-Marguerite Sabongui  ››

Congratulations on the occupation of the world propaganda by reinforcing the human element that propaganda is dependent on in the first place.
Anything that increases engagement with politics and the future and the future of politics is vital and necessary.
Until memefest i had never encountered design revolutionaries like yourself and the other concsious people within the collective.
I am a theatre major and my whole life i had wished i could draw i think its brilliant that youve designed this visual interactive space and i look forward to keeping in touch with the film to see the corns, thoughts and feelings of the citizens of europe regarding their future.

View other works commented by Kristy-lee Horswood  ››

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Curators comments

This work has been commented by 3 curator(s):
Darren Tofts Marie-Marguerite Sabongui Kristy-lee Horswood go to comments ›

Entry details


Propaganda by the People


What does your Europe look like?

Concept author(s)

Arnold van Bruggen

Concept author year(s) of birth


Concept author(s) contribution

Arnold van Bruggen – writer / producer Arnold (Texel, 1979) is one of the founders of journalism production company Prospektor. He works both as a writer and filmmaker. Arnold is fascinated by the grotesque but often effective machinations of propaganda, through statues, history, lies, posters, deception. Arnold traveled for five years in Russia and saw the construction of the Olympic Games in Sochi accompanied by a grand all glossed propaganda circus. The Sochi Project (2009-2014) tried to turn the Russian state narrative with profound regional slow journalism. At 'Propaganda by the People' Arnold covers editorial and project management.




Rogier Klomp

Designer(s) year(s) of birth


Designer(s) contribution

Rogier Klomp – animation & propaganda Rogier (Nijmegen, 1981) is a trans-disciplinary designer specialized in Animated Documentaries, Graphic Journalism, Political Animations & Illustrations. He has produced several independent short films like 'This is propaganda’, a research project into the way in which media brings the news. For 'Propaganda by the People' Rogier dived into the history of propaganda posters to filter a series of clichés that are the basis for propaganda by the People visuals.



Copy author(s)

Janneke de Rooij

Copy author(s) year(s) of birth


Copy author(s) contribution

Janneke de Rooij – design, installations & workshops Janneke (Arnhem, 1985) uses graphic design as a medium to question stereotypical views. In her projects she involves the public through workshops and social interventions in search of alternative ideas about current social issues. With this experience, we organized the workshops, provided a canvas and sequence. Janneke also designed the website Propagandabythepeople.eu and prints.



Competition category


Competition field


Competition subfield


Subfield description

Propaganda by the People is a crowdsourced project. It will involve live workshops, a crowdsourced animation, several publications, much debate and finally a documentary film. Propaganda by the People is an independent cross disciplinair project, it stems from commitment, but certainly also from curiosity to experiment. The concept is conceived within the Mediafonds @ Sandberg masterclass 2015.