Photo courtesy of the Lopez Museum and Library
Propaganda fleshes out the idea of myth-making and its ability to inspire change in society, and conversely, the formation of a fantasy or outright fallacy packaged as a promise that never gets fulfilled.
Text by Jaime Oscar L. Salazar
The short form of “Sacra Congregātiō dē Prōpagandā Fidē,” the previous name of the division of the Roman Curia that was established in 1622 by Pope Gregory XV in order to carry out the transmission and dissemination of the Catholic faith across the world by guiding and coordinating the different missionary activities of the Catholic Church, the term “propaganda” may not always have been saddled with the derogatory, even sinister, connotations that it now bears – particularly in the wake of the career of one of its most infamous practitioners, Joseph Goebbels – but its etymological meaning, “that which is to be spread,” is testament to the political character of what it refers to: after all, the process of deciding what sort of ideas are worthy of propagation involves the exercise of power, and, furthermore, implies that such propagation must work toward a definite end and upon a specific audience. Unlike the parabolic sower, who scatters his seeds every which way, leaving the size and quality of his crop, if any, to the wiles of fortune, the propagandist must engage in deliberate, systematic efforts to shape perception and behavior in the face of ignorance, indifference, or opposition.
Photos courtesy of the Lopez Museum and Library
A chronicle of such and similar efforts that were undertaken in the Philippines is sketched out in Propaganda, an exhibition at the Lopez Museum and Library that opened on February 6, 2015, and is the museum’s first of the year. Initially conceived as a project that would mark the 70th anniversary of the Battle of Manila and the end of World War II in 1945, Propaganda, over the course of its development by co-curators Ricky Francisco and Ethel Villanueva, would gradually sprawl out to cover larger swaths of history, roughly from the period of Spanish colonization to the present. Featuring commissioned pieces from visual artists Nunelucio Alvarado and Joey Cobcobo, and filmmaker Alvin Yapan, situated in dialogue with rare books, various archival items – among them, of course, materials related to the Propaganda Movement – and modern and contemporary works of art from such artists as Fernando Amorsolo, Santiago Bose, Angel Cacnio, Cesar Legaspi, and Don M. Salubayba, to whom the exhibition is also a sort of tribute, as he had been part of the planning process that had begun more than year ago, but unfortunately passed away in March 2014.
Read the full article inside Art+ Magazine issue 38.