Political Populism is the extremely populist title for an exhibition which aims to critically question this phenomenon through artistic means.
The exhibition was not designed to present a picture of the cultural and historical development of populist tendencies but instead gathers over twenty international artists’ works and showcases them according to diverse topics. In this way, the exhibition reveals a variety of artistic reactions to different strands of populist argumentation, illustrating how, since the turn of the millennium, the use of pop culture, artistic methods and aesthetics has substantially increased in comparison to earlier years. The works can be viewed as a commentary on the subject, a subversive second level, an analysis, or a footnote. Above all, they reveal how omnipresent political populism has become. Social media, advertising aesthetics and media production put forward political contents and slogans with a progressive appearance often by the means of artistic, art historical references. Rapping politicians, YouTube clips aimed specifically at young people, TV formats or pop concerts, present political issues and make prejudice socially acceptable – and belong as much to modern media life. The exhibition Political Populism challenges us to comprehend the tensions inherent in a simplified populist worldview and to consider artistic articulations of this phenomenon. Many of the works show the complexity of issues involved and slow down developments which are handled as populist in the public debate. The exhibition questions our relation to populism, and proposes counterarguments to the populist usurpation of important social issues.