On 3 July 2015, Nina Couvert received the KABK Thesis Award for her thesis The Power of Fascination: The Islamic State’s Propaganda Aesthetic. Couvert graduated from the Graphic Design department. Her thesis supervisor was Marjan Brandsma.

The power of fascination: The Islamic State's propaganda aesthetic.

The Islamic State is a relatively young terrorist organization, whose official existence only goes back to June 2014, the date on which the leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi proclaimed the re-establishment of the caliphate. Following this declaration, several videos showing the savage execution of journalists have been attracting the attention from the international community. However, analyzing more deeply IS’ way of communicating, it appears that those brutal videos are actually just a small part of a much bigger communication strategy involving designing films, magazines and games in order to promote the group’s identity. This thesis is exploring the aesthetic language and marketing strategy developed by IS; investigating how the western visual landscape can be scolded for numbing its population’s critical thinking.

Thesis Nina Couvert, 2015.
Thesis Nina Couvert, 2015.


Annually, theory teachers from various departments of the Royal Academy of Art nominate their department’s best thesis for the thesis award. The award consists of a cash prize of 500 euro.

An independent and annually changing jury decides on the winning thesis award. The jury consists of a chair, an artist or designer teaching at the academy and an external member.

This year the jury consists of Noor Mertens, conservator modern & contemporary art at Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen; Ellie Smolenaars, lecturer sociology at the Photography department of the KABK and chief editor at Sociologie Magazine; and Tatjana Macic, visual artist, writer, theoretician and lecturer Artistic Research aan de KABK and chair of the jury.

Nominees thesis award 2015

    • Nina Couvert, The Power of Fascination: The Islamic State’s Propaganda Aesthetic
    • Sophia Klinkenberg, Being in Shape. Shaping Environment
    • Martin Risseeuw, You Are Useful: The Prosuming Society
    • Esther Hovers, Controle en Spel. Controleren wat er aan toeval binnenkomt
    • DM Mak, A Collection of Fragments
    • Thijs van Teijlingen, Perceptie Lading Gekoppeld Apparaat
    • Fabian Bredt, Sharing is Caring