Monika Pormale
Modern Colonial Wars are Won with Trademarks not Weapons

Poster Modern Colonial Wars Are Won with Trademark at a bus stop in Riga. Photo: artists archive Poster Modern Colonial Wars are Won with Trademarks Not Weapons. Image: artists personal archive


Digital print on paper


The poster Modern Colonial Wars Are Won with Trademarks Not Weapons is a work by artist Monika Pormale. It was exhibited during the Urban Subversion (2001) art action in September 2001. The art action was organized by the Open creative troupe, which, in collaboration with artists, created 450 posters for transit shelter displays and 60 large-scale banners in central Rīga, drawing attention to the effect that values declared by corporations and brands have on the desires of local consumers. Urban Subversion played upon the topic of commercialization, addressing the system of modern capitalism and consumer culture. Similarly to other projects of the Open creative troupe, this was a collective initiative, with curator Kaspars Vanags and the creative team collaborating with local and foreign artists. In parallel to the initiative, a project-themed library and sound archive was set up inside a special propaganda tram, with public seminars and film screenings being held as well. 

The original poster is on show at the Mobile Museum. The Next Season exhibition. 


Employing the subversive tactic of culture jamming, they created visual parodies about the big corporations arriving in Latvia (such as Marlboro cigarettes, the McDonald’s fast-food chain, Gilette razors and the Coca-Cola soft drink), with the goal of fighting consumer values voiced in ads, on the media and in politics. The artists partaking in the initiative asked the audiences to have a closer look at the recognizable brand identities and the corporations standing behind them, making them consider their effect on the marketing strategies of consumer goods. As curator Kaspars Vanags says in the catalogue of the initiative: “subversion, or a different thought variant is a violent intervention in the global system of images, carried out with the hope that the short circuits would, for a moment, interrupt the ceaseless flow of images. Perhaps, as the screen of virtual reality fades out, the visitor will rise up, stretch their limbs, crack their neck and… see an entirely different world around them. Not a better one, possibly, but definitely a truer one.”

Monika Pormale, the artist, characterizes the turn of the millennium as a time of intense and abrupt change, drawing parallels with the arrival of aggressive ads and marketing strategies into the local environment. “A broken glass bottle, also called a ‘little rose’, becomes a weapon like the aggressive coke commercial.”

About the author

Monika Pormale (1974) is an artist working in scenography, installation art and photography. Since the late 1990s, Monika Pormale has been mainly working as a stage designer and costume artist. Her name is well-known to audiences in Latvia and elsewhere in Europe. The range of Monika Pormale’s works varies from pure and conceptually clear installations to historically accurate stage designs characterized by a scrupulous approach to the tiniest detail, tone and nuance, generally revealing an unquenchable interest in the extraordinary things of everyday human life and a belief in humanism. She graduated the Department of Textile Art of the Rīga Art and Design Secondary School in 1993 and the Department of Stage Design at the Art Academy of Latvia in 1998. 

The Exhibition "Mobile Museum. Next Season"


Opening times:

Thursdays and Fridays: 14:00-20:00;

Saturdays 12:00-20:00

*Entry- free


Former textile factory “Boļševicka”,

Ganību dambis 30

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