Jonas Staal

Initials J.
Main position Beeldend kunstenaar
Member of Society of Arts
Personal website

The work of visual artist Jonas Staal (born in 1981) explores the relationship between art, democracy and propaganda. He does not shy away from controversy and his work has often sparked public debate. For example, when Dutch politician Geert Wilders (founder of the far-right Freedom Party) took him to court for his work, he called it ‘performance art’ (The Geert Wilders Works, 2005-2008). He also produced a detailed realisation of a prison model described by Freedom Party MP Fleur Agema (Gesloten Architectuur, 2011).

In 2012 he founded the New World Summit, an artistic and political organisation that develops temporary ‘parliaments’ at art institutes, theatres and public spaces where it hosts stateless and persecuted ‘terrorist’ organisations that have come together to discuss alternative models of democracy. The Democratic Self-Administration of Rojava, an autonomous region in northern Syria (also known as Syrian Kurdistan), commissioned him to build a new and permanent public parliament in that will be completed in April 2016.

Jonas Staal’s penetrating images force us to think but also inspire actual collaboration between artists and emancipatory political parties and movements. He believes that artists have a duty to declare not only their aesthetic but also their political position; creating a new world order means that artistic images must be reconciled with political ones. Staal explores the relationship between twenty-first century art and propaganda at Leiden University’s PhD Arts Department.