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Izbrisani (The Erased)

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The subject of the Erased (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Erased) is polarizing the Slovenian public. One part of the public sees them as war profiteers, opponents of the Slovenian state, opportunists who did not believe in the project of independent Slovenia, and believes that because of mistrust and disloyalty to Slovenia they do not deserve the citizenship or a restoration of the status of a permanent residency and rights arising from this status and the right to compensation. The other part of the public considers the Erased as a handy material for pre-election manoeuvres for receiving votes. The legal experts and non-governmental organizations that stand for rule of law and respect for human rights describe the case of the Erased as a legal gray area which needs to be filled and thus eliminate discrimination.

In the European year of intercultural dialogue 2008 and during the Slovenian presidency of the EU it has been 16 years since 18,305 individuals were unlawfully erased from the Registry of Permanent Residents of the Republic of Slovenia. For this reason on the sixteenth anniversary of the removal from registry a communication intervention in the public space <Izbrisani16let.si> was implemented in Slovenia which promotes basic principles of intercultural dialogue, encourages better ambiance for thinking for a common life in the country and presents the issue of the erased in a non-political, non-party and uniting fashion.

The Concept of the campaign was:

The communication issue of the Erased is difficult and complicated. Due to a predominately black and white portrayal of the issue by the Slovenian politics and mass media the perception of the issue by the larger part of the Slovenian population is the same.

The communication intervention places the Erased in the space of public debate and through the testimonies of personal experiences nears them to other people with whom we share the living space in a way that stirs personal feelings and surpasses the existing oversimplified portrayal of the issue.

With the help of big, unique placing of billboards used in the campaign and with previously unused glass surfaces of bus stops and other communication tools, the individual, intimate fates of people marked by the removal from registry and its consequences will speak as social awareness messengers to the passer-bys and encourage them to reflect on the issue and to involve them as active, responsible and sentient citizens.

This web (www.izbrisan16let.si) page has been developed to present the issue of the Erased and the campaign as well as provide a space for dialogue and provide a wider public with information.


Project details

Author(s):Concept and creative direction: Maja Hawlina and Oliver Vodeb. Rok Klemenčič (design), Katarina Pollak (project management), Swizec (web programming)



no budget

How does project benefit the client (if there is a client)?
There was no client in this sense of the word. The whole campaign was self initiated.

How does project benefit the people you are speaking to with your communication?
The Purpose of the campaign was: The fact that the status of the Erased is not regulated questions the claims about Slovenia as a tolerant, peaceful, open and foreigners-friendly country that is respectful to human rights and testifies to the excluding policy of Slovenia towards its population. The overall purpose of the communication intervention is to make the Slovenian public sensitive to the complex legal, political, moral and mainly general human issue of the Erased. The goal of the intervention is to show the problematic arbitrariness of the state because the executive authority ignores the decisions of the Constitutional Court and to call attention to the ongoing violation of human rights. At the same time, its goal is also to send a message that thorough consideration, high tolerance, solidarity, cooperation and dialog on a private and also social level are needed to constructively address social problems. The communication intervention also appeals to the decision makers to solve the existing situation completely, with dignity and in a way acceptable for all sides. The Erased Campaign tried to solve this communication problem: How to communicate efficiently a delicate problem, that has been polarizing the Slovenian public for sixteen years and at the same time to make public sensitive to this human issue in uniting and un-political fashion? There is a wide consensus among intellectuals, academics and and the erased themselves that this campaign played a crucial role in helping the erased getting their rights back.

How does project benefit the wider society?
The campaign has made people sensible to the problem of the erased. A wider understanding about the real situation was achieved. Tolerance, understanding and knowledge was raised. The statement that a commercial company can be socially responsive and intervene in the explicit field of politics was made to.

How did/does this project benefit author (authors/makers of the project)?
We learned a lot from it and proved to ourselves that a commercial company can do socially responsive work, even in very hard and difficult conditions.

Tell us something about your view on communication. What is your / your organisation's / initiative's (visual) communication philosophy?
Poper Studio's culture could be described as socially responsive. Communication that Poper does has to benefit the client, culture and society and the studio in a balanced way.

What about the process of creating this work? Please describe it.
We had to deal with a highly delicate problem. One that could be used for nationalistic and populist ends by many political parties. The most difficult visual communication problem to solve here was how to find the right balance between emotion and rational argument. The communications concept was developed pretty quick. That is not usual. I guess the high motivation and interest in the subject helped. We had to deal with different institutions. NGO like Amnesty international and the Peace institute and the City council including the mayor. We involved representatives of the erased in the process. We had to persuade media to collaborate with ad space.

Anything else you would like to say about this work?
what others said about the campaign: http://osocio.org/message/stories_of_the_erased http://www.backspace.com/notes/2008/05/the-erased.php

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