Remember the Rebel is a new episode of the Iron Curtain Project. In 2023-2024 we present an exhibition, a game and a series of events all over Europe. Discover what we can learn from the way rebels think.
rebels see things others don’t see
not satisfied with everyday reality
they have a vision of something new
and they are willing to fight for it
if they have to, they even start a revolution
and risk their lives
are they crazy? yes!
are they dangerous? for sure!
are they always right? definitely not!
do we hate them for it? Yes we do!
but wait until later
sometimes they become heroes.
30 years after the withering away of the last dictators of Europe in 1989, the EU democratic system is under pressure; being challenged by radical movements, fake news and populists questioning fundamental values of diversity, democracy and political freedom. The invasion by Russia of Ukraine stresses the vulnerability of the democratic system even more.
A key element transforming from authoritarian system to democracy and in keeping democracy healthy is the role of social movements. Resistance played a key role in European democracy by fighting occupation, overthrowing totalitarian regimes and fighting for rights for a wide range of groups – women, ethnic and religious minorities, disabled, gay etc etc. It is crucial to celebrate and educate about these instances, actors and groups as examples for today and the future to defend fundamental freedoms. It is important to share stories of resistance in order to make people realize that democracy is not something you can take for granted: it is something citizens of Europe fought for, and every citizen can play an important role in defending it. It needs continuous attention.
This is even more important, because only less than half of the Europeans born after 1980 believe it is essential to live in a democracy (according to a 2016 Journal of Democracy paper). At the same time youngsters are being exposed by fake news through which it is hard to distinguish between facts and conspiracy theories. But youngsters are not apathetic, they long for critical thinking.
Our project Remember the Rebel addresses the importance of defending democracy and EU values by acting and taking responsibility as individuals. It provides practical tools for having the ability to think critically – a key ingredient for a healthy democracy – and distinguish between facts and fake.
Remember the Rebel contains three core elements that are presented to a diverse group of people.
- We present a traveling exhibition of oral histories of Europeans who took part in resistance, dissident or oppositional movements before 1989. This ‘pop-up museum’ of stories is a touching and immersive experience that lets visitors meet the true personal stories of fellow European citizens. The pop-up museum is a physical installation, you can literally ‘walk through’ it, and get immersed by the stories in text, video, audio and image. This traveling exhibition is based on journalistic and scientific research, and crowd sourcing with partners. An extra focus is on the underexposed decisive role of women in the history of Europe. Unknown stories of resistance will be collected, for example from resistance by women in small Romanian villages during Ceausescu, the battle for gay rights in communist Poland, or resistance against dictator António de Oliveira Salazar in Portugal.
These stories of resistance show that ‘ordinary citizens’ can have a crucial part in changing history. By collecting and preserving oral history and presenting it to the younger generation that did not live through war or dictatorship, we raise awareness about the importance of democratic and EU values and the role the individual can play. These stories can serve as an example for the future. We offer practical methods to discover threats to democracy.
- We develop an interactive game in which young people are confronted with all the systems (political, ideological, commercial, (social) media and (fake) news, etc) that are forming their way of thinking. In this game, they are confronted with real life scenarios in which they have to make decisions. After every decision, they get a ‘reality check’ that confronts them with the facts. The game functions as a mirror, it makes them reflect on how their own thinking and decision making is being influenced. This game is created based on journalistic and scientific research. In a playful manner participants learn how to think as autonomously as possible and reflect on why it’s important to question the status quo and think critically. They learn practical tools on how to distinguish facts from fake news and where fundamental values are threatened.
- Events will take place in four different EU-countries, the Netherlands, Romania, Italy and Poland. Each event includes:
- A pop-up exhibition
- A launching ceremony
- Guided tours and interactive game workshops in groups.
During the launching ceremony the past is linked to the present and future. We discuss the oral histories on resistance (stories from the past that give insight for today) and look for current day examples. We will also play the interactive game in groups and debate on critical thinking and how to protect the important values of our democracy. The launching ceremonies are tailor-made for each country and within the broader theme of critical thinking and democracy, it will have a focus specifically relevant for that time and place. The events will particularly focus on addressing a young public of various backgrounds.