Street art against disinformation
Logical facts in the shadow of emotional fakes
The word "fake" has become firmly entrenched in our daily lives: in 2020, 77% of Ukrainians were aware of the existence of disinformation in the media. However, among them, 58% did not consider disinformation a serious problem, and 62% were confident in their ability to identify fake news. The purported confidence of respondents did not correspond with the results of the practical assessment. It showed that those who were able to distinguish falsehoods had decreased from 11 per cent in 2019 to 3 per cent in 2020. Given Russia's powerful information war against Ukraine, this situation is particularly threatening.
Other Eastern European countries are also under constant bombardment from the Kremlin's propaganda machine. In Poland, for example, pro-Russian salvos speculate on vaccines, LGBT people, refugees, and Ukrainian migrants. In Armenia, Kremlin propaganda rose sharply in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and the Karabakh war.
Logical and rational debunking of disinformation usually receives much less coverage than emotionally-charged fakes. Therefore, the work of fact-checkers is not always effective enough and apparent to the public, while in fact, the "visibility" of the truth is a protective shield against hybrid attacks from Russia.
Anti-fake art that is impossible to miss
Together with the Art Transparent Foundation from Poland and the Armenian Association of Audio-Visual Reporters, we created the international art project ARTIFAKE. This project brought the non-traditional and creative tools of street art to the defense of the informational space.
48 selected artists took part in an online residency, where with the help of experts, they learned about fakes and methods of combating them. Then, creators implemented what they learned through their own artistic worldview. After that, the artists offered sketches of art projects which would tackle the problem of disinformation.
In total, the artists implemented 9 projects. The cities where they were ultimately created were chosen by the residents of the communities of the participating countries. In Ukraine, we focused on the eastern and southern regions, as they are the most vulnerable to Kremlin’s propaganda. Open voting on Facebook and Instagram revealed the winners: Tokmak, Bakhmut and Kakhovka, where murals about media literacy were placed.
Two more murals were planned to be created in Bilyaivka, Odessa region, and Rubizhne, Luhansk region. Unfortunately, we had to freeze this process due to the beginning of the large-scale invasion of the Russian Federation into Ukraine on February 24, 2022.
To support Ukrainian children during the war, the project team organized an art therapy session for them online. 31 young students learned to live negative emotions with the help of creativity.
Armenian colleagues have created art objects in Gyumri, Artik and Metsamor, and Polish ones in Wrocław.
Also, we launched a thematic site where you can take a quick test of media literacy and improve your critical thinking skills. In addition to street art, we have developed a comic book about media manipulation "ARTI VS FAKE Part 1 News Factory".
Art has helped 4 million people understand the problem of fakes
The total media reach of the project in Ukraine was over 3.4 million people. 258,500 Ukrainians in local communities were informed about art projects in their cities. The fact that locals saw the benefits and advantages of the art objects created in the project in Ukraine was confirmed by a study by Umbrella.
Open voting posts on the selection of Ukrainian cities participating in the project organically reached more than 200,000 users, of which more than 12,000 voted.
In Poland, almost 400,000 people learned about the events from the local media in Wrocław or visited the art objects on their own. In Armenia, the project reached 200,000 people.
Nearly 6,000 users took our online media literacy test. The average rate of correct answers was 78.2%.
The comic book "ARTI VS FAKE" was published in 5 languages (English, Ukrainian, Polish, Armenian, and Russian). It became the "Media Freedom and Responsible Reporting" sectionthe winner of a prestigious competition: Emerging Europe Awards 2022. The organizers praised the creative approach in turning comics into a tool of media literacy.
The main results of the ARTIFAKE project were presented at a press conference on October 21, 2021 at the UKRINFORM press center in Kyiv.