Jonas Staal, Climate Propagandas, Video Study

Jonas Staal: Climate Propagandas, Video Study


Video still from "Climate Propagandas, Video Study" (2020) by Jonas Staal. Courtesy of the artist.


Video study by Jonas Staal

Narration by Liana Fokianaki

Sound by Kostas Ekelon

Video editing by Ruben Hamelink

Text editing by Isabelle Sully

Produced by post documenta: contemporary arts as territorial agencies

Showing here from 1 October to 28 November 2021, as part of the Climate Collective video screening series. 

With global climate governance resting on the results of the upcoming UN Climate Summit – the COP 26 in Glasgow this November – it is useful to review the dominant approaches to “climate propagandas”, according to which environmental breakdown is variously framed and opportunely co-opted by dominant political ideologies. 


Jonas Staal’s Climate Propagandas, Video Study from 2020 provides an incisive overview of the leading opinions, including liberal, libertarian, conspiracist, and eco-fascist varieties. Each, supported by different social demographics, comes with fundamental structural flaws, whether chalking up ecological collapse to individual responsibility, viewing climate change as an economic opportunity, dismissing climate science as a tool of social control, or instrumentalising it as racial biopolitics. Staal’s analysis offers a crucial lens through which to evaluate the terms of neoliberal climate policy and provides a critical rubric with which to evaluate its inadequacies. Speculating, lastly, about the emergence of an altogether different paradigm, the video compellingly advances ecosocialist and multispecies justice, requiring a necessary step beyond fossil capital. 

— Climate Collective: T. J. Demos, Molemo Moiloa, Susan Schuppli and Paulo Tavares 

Jonas Staal, Climate Propagandas, Video Study

Jonas Staal, Climate Propagandas, Video Study

Jonas Staal, Climate Propagandas, Video Study

Jonas Staal, Climate Propagandas, Video Study

Jonas Staal, video stills from “Climate Propagandas, Video Study”, 2020. Courtesy of the artist.

The work Climate Propagandas, Video Study (2020), explores how the climate crisis is interpreted and weaponised within various ideological discourses. 

While liberal climate propaganda argues that ecological collapse is the responsibility of human individuals, rather than extractivist corporations, libertarian climate propaganda considers the climate breakdown as a new resource for geomarketing and interplanetary colonisation. And while conspiracist climate propaganda claims climate change is nothing but a hoax to enforce population control, ecofascist climate propaganda takes it as an opportunity to double down on the question who, in ecosystem collapse, has the racial right to survive and who does not. 

Through examples of popular and political culture, from the nature documentaries of David Attenborough to the Marvel superhero franchise, the video study attempts to dissect the conflicting realities each of these climate propagandas brings about. 

— Jonas Staal

Jonas Staal is a visual artist whose work deals with the relation between art, propaganda, and democracy. He is the founder of the artistic and political organisation New World Summit (2012). Together with Florian Malzacher he co-directs the training camp Training for the Future (2018–ongoing), and with human rights lawyer Jan Fermon he initiated the collective action lawsuit Collectivize Facebook (2020-ongoing). With writer and lawyer Radha D’Souza he founded the Court for Intergenerational Climate Crimes (2021) and with Laure Prouvost he is co-administrator of the Obscure Union. Museum as Parliament is an ongoing exhibition (since 2018) by Staal and the Democratic Self-Administration of Rojava at Van Abbemuseum, Eindhoven. Among other books, in 2919 Staal saw his "Propaganda Art in the 21st Century" published by the MIT Press.


The Climate Emergency > Emergence public programme initiative energises critical analyses and creative proposals in moving beyond catastrophism and toward the emergence of environmentally sustainable futures. Interdisciplinary in breadth and international in scope, the programme is conceptualised by the newly-formed 2021 Climate Collective: T. J. Demos (USA), chair and chief-curator, Molemo Moiloa (South Africa), Susan Schuppli (UK), Paulo Tavares (Brazil), geared toward assembling diverse cultural practitioners working at the intersection of experimental arts and political ecology. 


As part of the programme taking place from April 2021 until April 2022, the Climate Collective has curated an online video screening series featuring films by a variety of international and local practitioners around themes addressed in the ongoing events. 


“maat Explorations” is a programme framework featuring an ongoing series of exhibitions, public and educational projects delving into the multi-faceted subject of environmental transformation from various scholarly and experimental vantage points – it brings philosophical and political perspectives forward, as well as sociocultural and technological investigations interwoven in speculative and critical practices in the arts and design at large. 


Central to the discursive and critical effort of “maat Explorations” is the establishment of the Climate Collective, a rotating group of experts in the expanded field of contemporary art, design and technology that will each year propose a refreshed vision on the connection between creative practices, ecological thought and politics.