Art piece Camilla Kövecses

Press freedom art by Royal Academy of Art students


We embrace different ways to pay attention to press freedom. Free Press Unlimited was delighted to collaborate with master students from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. These students have all made art pieces inspired by the need for press freedom all around the world. The results are impressive.

Seven months ago, Free Press Unlimited and the Royal Academy of Art started this special collaboration. The overall theme of the project was 'Facts not Filters', inspiring seven (groups of) students to make very different pieces of art. Some used physical structures, others made videos or used sound.

Creative process

The project kicked off in September 2020, with a presentation by Boris van Westering, Sr. Program Coordinator Middle East North Africa & Pakistan at Free Press Unlimited, about the work of Free Press Unlimited. The students were presented with seven different cases from our partners worldwide, to inform and inspire them. Boris: "We tried to convey the challenges that our partners in different parts of the world face when trying to do their job: providing people with reliable information."

Each of the students embraced one of these cases, from Pakistan, to Tunisia, to Venezuela, and chose various ways to transform these into art. The creative process spread out over seven months, in which the students researched the different cases, speaking to the related journalists and experts themselves. 

Royal Academy of Art - Facts not Filters
Photo: Roel Backaert

Boris van Westering was involved in the entire project. He explains the importance of this project as follows: "Globally we see a sharp decline in press freedom and increased censorship. Because of this trend, the media sector has to seek to innovate. It is important to find alternative ways to distribute meaningful independent media content, that steers local debate or realise change."

He continues: "For this exact reason, Free Press Unlimited seeks new collaborations together with our partners worldwide, with for example the creative sector. This first time collaboration between the students of the Royal Academy of Art and Free Press Unlimited, is a kick-off of exploring new media narratives and it was for sure a very successful experience. We look forward to future innovations!" 

In April 2021, after an intense process, the students were ready to present their pieces of art. We are very happy to show the end result in pictures and videos below. 

Pakistan - Female journalists' rights

Nelleke Broeze’s project addresses female journalist's rights and access in Pakistan. She focuses on how the structure of the patriarchal domestic space affects the mediation of news reporting. She has also documented the last months of Shaheena Shaheen's life, a female journalist in Pakistan, on this website. The project was inspired by partners Digital Rights Foundation and Tribal News Network (TNN).

Art piece Nelleke Broeze
Photo: Roel Backaert

The Netherlands - Hate speech

Daan Veerman investigated the 2020 hate speech trial related to Dutch journalist Clarice Gargard, focusing on a selection of 200 racist hate messages from social media. Through an educational game the project aims to understand how messages were convicted. He has also documented the “comments” that were put on trial on this website.

Art piece Daan Veerman
Photo: Roel Backaert

Tunisia - Underrepresentation of youth

Blandine Molin has written a rap song and created a music video to share the story of underrepresented youth organisations in Tunisia, her visuals combine video morphing of mosaic elements to draw comparisons between contemporary struggles and ancient narratives. This project was inspired by partner Al Khatt.

Nagorno-Karabakh - Armenian and Azerbaijani conflict 

Erica Gargaglione, Elvi Kleyn and Paul Mielke are investigating the local news coverage on the ethnic and territorial conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, in the Caucasus area. The project focused on the role the Georgian independent news platform Jam News is playing in the way people form their opinions. They have published their research findings on this website

Art piece Erica Gargaglione, Elvi Kleyn and Paul Mielke
Photo: Roel Backaert

Morocco - silencing by the government

Jeroen van den Bogaert, Jan Johan Draaistra and Coco Maier examine the silencing of Moroccan journalism through government actors by analysing the ‘Moroccan Press Code’ and constructing a timeline of the Omar Radi espionage case. They have also interviewed journalist and free press advocate Hicham Mansouri. This interview and further information can be found on this website.

Art piece Jeroen van den Bogaert, Jan Johan Draaistra and Coco Maier
Photo: Roel Backaert

Venezuela and Colombia - political conflict

Niels Otterman, Talita Virgínia de Lima and Akina Yoshitake López reconstruct the political conflict between pro- and anti-Maduro activists on the Francisco de Paula Santander bridge at the border between Venezuela and Colombia. They have also bundled the information and videos on this interactive website.

Art piece Niels Otterman, Talita Virginia and Akina Yoshitake Lopez
Photo: Roel Backaert

Hungary - shutdown of media

Camilla Kövecses’ research maps the shutdown of independent media in Hungary by means of sound. Camilla carefully draws together and archives the final audio moments of independent radio broadcasters. Camilla has documented it on this interactive website.


Art piece Camilla Kovecses
Photo: Roel Backaert

Watch a full recap of the presentation day at the Royal Academy of Art


“Facts Not Filters” is a 2021 educational project highlighting the international struggles of independent journalists developed by Lauren Alexander and Niels Schrader from the Non Linear Narrative Master’s programme at the Royal Academy of Art, The Hague in collaboration with Boris van Westering and Marieke le Poole from Free Press Unlimited. “Facts Not Filters” project was supported by tutors Mijke van der Drift (theory), Lizzie Malcolm, Dan Powers (coding), Judy Wetters and Louise Rietvink (workshops).

Thanks to: Mariem Saeed (DRF), Sabin Agha, Umaima Ahmed, Margarita Akhvlediani (JamNews), Mira Chowdhury (FPU), Paul Vughts (Parool), Hazar Abidi (Al Khatt), Hicham Mansouri, Shiar Youssef (ARTA FM), Sherin Ibrahim (ARTA FM).

Share this page: