Propaganda is a bar/lounge that welcomes everyone, and is meant to provoke thoughts and conversation about the world we live in, the history behind us and what it means for our future. “Propaganda” is a weighted word--it brings with it all kinds of connotations of war, governments, political movements, etc. And while it is most shockingly exemplified in posters and advertisements, in truth it is all around us, the way a society shapes its perception of the world.
This concept is fascinating to me. I was born in the Soviet Union and then moved to St. Louis as a teenager. As a child growing up in Moscow, I was surrounded by strong anti-Western and anti-capitalistic sentiments, and watched this wane after the fall of the USSR as western culture made its way back into Russia. Having moved to the US I became a citizen of the very country I saw vilified as a child, and now experienced the other side of the propaganda coin: movies full of Russian villains, stories of nuclear bomb drills, icons I was taught to revere turned on their heads. Having called both countries home, it is interesting to reflect on the images, headlines, and stories we are presented with daily, and how they can influence our perception not only of countries and governments, but also of the people that comprise them.
On our walls, we display propaganda from around the world, from different time periods and different perspectives. Some may be offensive, others clearly outdated, and others may be dangerously reminiscent of sentiments that we see in our modern day society, in our media. Given our current political climate, I think it is particularly important to study and know our past, to note parallels between images then and now, to tease out the message and the intent behind each one. Most importantly, we should remember never to take such things at face value, to not judge people based on labels that have been purposefully placed upon them by someone else. If there is one thing I have learned, in travels and as an immigrant, it’s that we are all just people, we are mostly caring and kind, and we all have much more in common than we may initially realize.
I hope that this bar will help bring people together, encourage interesting and meaningful conversations, and ultimately help see ourselves in each other and help us realize that we, the people, are all very much alike and need to love, support, cherish and celebrate each other.