“United We Stand. Europe has a mission” is the punchy title of the non-existent, fully EU-produced Hollywood-style blockbuster: “A brilliant mix of espionage and sci-fi political stereotypes in which Europe, not the USA, saves the world from impending doom”. The project that consists in the invention and promotion of this nonexistent movie is hitting public and media space all over the world through city-scale urban installations and viral communication tactics.
Isn’t there something odd about this poster?
The streets of Berlin, Brussels, Barcelona, Bangalore and New York have been plastered with thousands of posters of this fake movie, in the first stage of a long-term communication strategy that began in late 2005 and will gradually cover the whole media spectrum from blogs to magazines and TV. Full page United We Stand ads have been spotted all over Europe, in magazines devoted to art, youth culture and life styles. More are to come.
“I’d heard about this new project – comments Spanish art critic Nilo Casares – but it was only when I saw the poster at the entrance of the European Parliament that I understood what 0100101110101101.ORG meant”
“United We Stand” the movie
It is the year 2020. With the excuse of halting North Korea’s nuclear arms proliferation, the USA has declared war on China – a development long expected by international analysts.
“We have a problem. Make that two: America and China”, with these words, the European president calls for the intervention of a special Task Force: an undercover emergency team composed of five highly trained individuals only known as the English, the French, the German, the Italian and the Spanish agents. Their mission: to work behind the scenes to resolve the international crisis before it’s too late and disarm the two superpowers without resorting to brute force. “The power of the United States is a thing of the past – claims the French Task Force agent – How can you go around like John Wayne in a globalized world, where anything you do affects everything and everyone? In the networked world that we live in, the European model is fated to win”.
Through international espionage, hi-tech sabotage and after many ups and downs, the Task Force comes close to achieving its aim. But when victory is within their sight, the mission apparently fails. How will Europe resolve the international crisis?
The European Dream. Propaganda for the 21st century?
United We Stand touches on themes of subliminal art, cultural propaganda and European identity, clashing against expectations and exploding cultural stereotypes. “Everyone remembers Peter Fonda in Easy Rider – says 0100101110101101.ORG’s Eva Mattes – nobody is surprised by a leather jacket with an American flag, while the same jacket with a European flag would only make you laugh”. Why is the patriotic iconography of the USA commonly accepted, while when it is applied to Europe it completely changes its meaning and actually becomes ludicrous?
Like Mattes’ previous large-scale work Nike Ground, United We Stand provokes an unexpected wave of collective hallucination where over-identification, falsehood and consequent disclosure are key elements that foster critical thinking and provoke discussion around a topic.
“How do people perceive recent geo-political developments in Europe? – asks Nilo Casares – Is the European Dream the human and social project we will have to comply with? The issue is not whether or not people would like to see United We Stand; whether real or fake, this movie is a brilliant representation of the ‘zeitgeist'”
Since December 10th, Postmasters Gallery in New York has been the first of a series of art venues to host the disclosed side of the United We Stand project. The exhibition will run parallel to the ongoing communication strategy. “We are working simultaneously on this double track, the “fictional” and the “real” – explains Franco Mattes – in this sense, spectators in the gallery who are aware of the multiple layers are passive voyeurs, while the unaware “spectator”, or passerby, is actually part of the artwork”.
About the authors
Eva and Franco Mattes – internationally known as 0100101110101101.ORG – are a couple of restless European con-artists who use non-conventional communication tactics to obtain the largest visibility with the minimum effort. Past works include inventing and promoting a nonexistent artist; spreading a computer virus as a work of art; challenging and defeating Nike Corporation in a legal battle for a fake advertising campaign.
To contact Eva and Franco Mattes: