There was only one successful referendum (out of 8 total) in Slovak history and it was about Slovakia joining the European Union (EU) in 2003.
Thanks to the European integration, Slovakia has been given many opportunities and funding, gained unprecedented development on many levels and the standard of living increased more than ever before. Naturally, initial over-optimistic expectations began to fade. At the end of the first decade after joining, it was clearly visible that the pro-Europeans needed to defend status-quo and tried to balance the massive and constant disinformation campaign.The Russian propaganda leitmotif was obviously an amplification of division — “Us = Slovaks” and “Them = Bad EU”.
There is a saying “The Russian communication strategists are like an evil doctor, because they are capable of diagnosing you, but they will use it only to make you more ill”. The problem of involvement of Slovak citizens in decision-making in Brussels was a real one. Brussels seemed to be “far-far-away” for many and processes happening there appeared to be hard to grasp and understand, so at the end — people were not interested to learn more about them. The pro-Russian narratives, at the time when they arrived, just fluently built on existing prejudices and fear.
The most recent EU parliament election in 2019 was our opportunity to create an educational exhibition as a small effort to support the Slovakian EU-membership case. The realization team consisted of creatives based in Nová Cvernovka, with the huge help from Zuzana Gabrižová of Euractiv, who provided us with most of the information needed.
Our main goal was to portray the message of inclusion, loosely put something like this: “We, Slovaks, are in the EU together with other nations and we are co-deciding how everything evolves.”
The exhibition had a few quasi-independent modules, aimed to provide different perspectives. The visual style, together with its intentionally misspelled title, reflected the discourse of users on social platforms and its hugely employed emojis. Each nation of the EU was referenced with a specific one, citing popular international prejudices in a funny way.
The timeline of the EU pre-history, constitution and growth was accompanied with a time-lapse animation showing centuries of “redrawing” the borders of the European continent states.
Last, but not least, was the art installation of a graphic artist Matúš Maťátko, inspired by the popular parable of Slavic king Svätopluk, teaching his three sons a lesson on unity. Whereas one twig can be broken easily, it is much harder to break three twigs that are bound together. Going further — try to break 27 of them at once (referencing the total 27-member countries of the EU)!
Download the PDF with exhibition contens in Slovak — for educational and personal use only.
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Each nation of the EU was referenced with a specific emoji and an underlying sense of humor, citing popular international prejudices. The relationships chart was made to clarify relationships and competences in the quite complex decision-making and creating of the European legislation.author: Branislav Matis, Boris Meluš, Peter Líška
The timeline of the EU pre-history, constitution and growth and time-lapse animation of “redrawing” the borders of the European continent states. Statistics of major war conflicts (and truces) between current members of EU from 1600 BC to present. Foto © Michal Líner.author: Brano Matis