NOS News•today, 9:07 PM
She was briefly a political party, her texts on posters are known throughout the Netherlands and she turns 40 this month. Loesje is now a middle-aged woman and although she is no longer so prominent in the streets, she will live to be 50, according to her biographer. “As far as I’m concerned, she is cultural heritage.”
Loesje was unruly at birth, says biographer Fleur van der Bij. The 1980s were known as a “gloomy time”. It was the time of doom-mongering, squatter riots and the Cold War. And Loesje took a different tack. “The founders wanted to break the negative spiral by being in favor of something for once. That was revolutionary, because slogans at that time only started with ‘stop’, ‘get rid of’ or ‘no’.”
Loesje’s lyrics therefore have a positive undertone: “She is never polarizing or hurtful,” Van der Bij explains her writing style. But at the same time she is also critical.
Inspired by Lenin
Loesje’s main goal was to get people thinking, one of the founders, Anne Veenstra, previously told Omroep Gelderland. “We always said: go to war skipping, kill the dragon while dancing and stab it with the gods of despondency. The biggest challenge is that people do not become despondent or give up, but rather form an opinion and express it. “
The origin of that writing style is surprising, says Van der Bij. During the research for her book, the biographer discovered that the lyrics of “the cheerful poster girl Loesje” were inspired by “heavy thinkers such as Marx and Lenin”. “They were mainly inspired by Lenin’s agitprop, a combination of agitation and propaganda. Agitation works on the mind and propaganda on the emotions. They applied writing techniques such as inversion, exaggeration, contradictions and association to the texts.”
Reporter Martijn Bink took to the street with a stack of Loesje posters and had them recited by passers-by:
Loesje 40: read a few memorable posters
Loesje broke through to the general public in 1986, when she participated in the national elections as a publicity stunt. Van der Bij: “She made it to the press with election videos, fun actions and two elephants in the Binnenhof. Then suddenly the whole of the Netherlands knew Loesje.” All the attention was not enough for a parliamentary seat: the Loesje party only received just under 13,000 votes.
In the 1980s, Loesje also had an activist side. People pasted posters throughout the Netherlands, even in places where this was not allowed. You could be arrested for it and pasting posters even led to lawsuits filed by municipalities on a number of occasions.
Forty years later, Loesje has somewhat let go of her activist side. “It might be a little more well-behaved,” says Van der Bij. Loesje is no longer often found on illegally pasted posters on the street, but is mainly present online, such as on Instagram. And that can be difficult, she says. “It’s hard to stand out on the Internet.”
But she will reach 50 years anyway, Van der Bij thinks. “Some texts are etched in our cultural memory. Such as ‘Life is the plural of courage’, or ‘Whatever is going on in our country, let it be the children’. In that respect, Loesje is immortal.”
“It is still a vibrant organization of people who come up with socially critical texts together,” says a member of Loesje to Omroep Gelderland. “If you look at this old text: ‘strive carelessly for the ideal’, and this new text: ‘change, just start, society will come’, then it is still about the same theme.”