We as communicators – who live with and from the values of Article 19 – wanted to make a clear statement and show people that artistic freedom is not a luxury of humanity, but rather a fundamental right. One that will always be worth fighting for.
Describe your Lovie Finalist project. What’s the elevator pitch?

"'The rights of artists to express themselves freely are under threat worldwide..'
D. Khan, UNESCO Ambassador for Artistic Freedom

STROKE Art Fair embraces the freedom of expression in arts and entertainment: a human right as of 1948 set out in Article 19 by the UN General Assembly.

Together with street artist Capo’s Finest, an immersive online gallery was created based on large watercolor portraits on handmade Khadi paper. The collection takes a bold look at eight political leaders and their decisions – the latter interpreted as tattoos to symbolize the irrevocability of political actions. Every motif is backed up by a video clip sourced from a wide range of global news portals. "

What inspired this particular cause as the subject of your work?

"Politicians have long tried to keep things from the public, even in democratic systems. What’s new is that a number of protagonists among them are now acting more openly against critics. Repressively and aggressively. With both words and images. We as communicators – who live with and from the values of Article 19 – wanted to make a clear statement and show people that artistic freedom is not a luxury of humanity, but rather a fundamental right. One that will always be worth fighting for."

What real-world impact were you hoping to make with this project?

"I think we achieved a lot by making our initiative public. Many people nowadays don’t realize that taking a stand in politics and articulating it is a human right. A human right that generations before us fought to have. With this project, we want to generate a shift in people’s behavior: We should no longer take our ability to influence decisions in society for granted.

Of course, the more people who see our project, the better. That’s why we would really love to see Scars of Democracy being 'lovied' by a broader audience."

Did your team have a specific “breakthrough” moment when conceiving or executing this project that you can share?

"A breakthrough suggests we overcame something. Interestingly for us it was the hurdles we faced (rather than the solutions to them) that provided our main source of motivation. When we started promoting the launch of www.scars-of-democracy.com via out-of-home media, we encountered a number of problems - both in terms of our selected portraits and the locations chosen to display them. Some people even advised us not to go ahead with the project at all for fear of being harassed by political fanatics. But these reactions only spurred us on further: They showed us that we were touching relevant ground and hitting a nerve..."

Was the tech/medium you chose essential to conveying your message? If so, why?

"The initial portraits created by street artist Capo’s Finest were pasted in various international locations. Whilst gaining attention locally, we still felt the images weren’t reaching enough people or having the effect we were hoping for. Choosing the internet as the main channel to promote the values of Article 19 was therefore essential, accompanied by the appearance of the collection as a central exhibit at the Stroke Art Fair in 2018.

Furthermore, we would never have been able to include the interactive video explanations of the tattoos without online help. We didn’t only want to provoke; we wanted to provide real evidence of what’s going wrong in politics – far beyond fake news."

What was the greatest challenge that arose during your work on this? What about the most rewarding moment?

"The main challenge was to stay focused. We wanted to provide a modern interpretation of an online portrait gallery with an informational benefit – and this is hopefully what we achieved. The original artworks were painted on a 1:1 scale to ensure politicians and visitors met “eye to eye”. In order to create a similarly striking effect online, we opted for desktop only. Big and bold. We are, however, currently working on a special mobile solution for classical vernissages.

The most rewarding moment for us was seeing the time people spend studying each politician. The average is 3:57 minutes! It’s great that people are not only “consuming” the artworks, but also the facts behind them."

What did you learn in the process of creating this work that you didn't know/expect going in?

"Showing high-resolution images combined with around 200 video snippets, each with an acceptable loading time, really advanced our understanding of the possibilities provided by the latest browser technologies... but what’s even more interesting is that we will be expanding the gallery. We are currently working on Mr Duterte from the Philippines and on Hungary’s Viktor Orbán."

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