Annoyed by unsolved burning issues in Serbian cultural policy as well as in society in general, Maja Pelevic and Milan Markovic, artists with no permanent job, came up with an unusual idea – to become members of almost all political parties at once and tackle them from the inside.
Their artistic performance resulted in a dramatic text, audio-visual materials, and a blog.
From February 13 to 21, these two screenplay writers applied for membership of the Democratic Party, the Liberal Democratic Party, the Progressive Party, the Democratic Party of Serbia, United Regions of Serbia, the Social Democratic Party, and the Socialist Party of Serbia.
As a cover letter for their application, they used a changed version of a 1928 speech by Goebbels called “Knowledge and propaganda”.
The text with a name “Idea-Strategy-Movement” was slightly adapted to suit political parties’ public image. Instead of “Hitler”, the artists inserted the name of the party leaders or ideologists. Instead of “National Socialism” they’ve used “democracy” or another suitable term. Instead of the word “propaganda”, which was frequently used by Goebbels, the artists came up with the word “political marketing”.
“It was exciting when we signed our Application Form, but when they called us to join and participate more immediately in councils, and boards for culture… I didn’t feel so good anymore.
I wasn’t sure who was using whom, because we didn’t have a clear plan of what to do after we joined parties as a part of our performance, so I didn’t have the need to bluff. To me, the value of what we do lies in the sole fact we are not bluffing, because this divides it from investigative journalism”
A quote by Milan Markovic from “They live”.
The feedback from the parties was surprisingly positive. Soon Pelevic and Markovic became members of the culture councils of most of the parties and got a chance to stand for election in various city and municipal party councils.
“[Parties] weren’t bothered with all of the ideological standpoints that the author [of the text, Goebbels] fought for, and which are apparently worth fighting nowadays: gaining power no matter the cost; spreading one’s idea into society’s pores, conducting ruthless propaganda,” Markovic said.
You can read more about They Live here (unfortunately most texts and additional material are in Serbian)