Is the Rise of European Populism a Backlash of Culture or a Backlash of Space?

    • Ghent October 2019
    • Presentation speakers
      • Ben Jack Nash, Independent Researcher / Independent Artist


    Populist leaders and movements are shuddering mainstream politics showing a worrying trend being played out across Europe and the EU including Brexit (UK), Marine Le Pen (France), Norbert Hofer (Austria), Geert Wilders (Netherlands), Viktor Orban (Hungary) and Golden Dawn (Greece) etc. Many experts, journalists and political commentators describe a battle of values between the older and younger generations. They observe how older generations who grew up under the umbrella of a more traditional and less liberal value system feel increasingly alienated by neo-liberalism and social progress such as feminism, LGBT rights and anti-discrimination measures. Equally changes in the economy’s operation such as globalisation, deregulation and automation is also said to have largely contributed. These changes have gradually been taking place over the last century and have now reached a tipping point. But rather than explain this phenomenon through the traditional socio-political or economic lens of relevant academic experts and commentators, it is told through the unusual and creative perspective of an established practicing artist. The talk will entertain how it might help to see them in terms of art, aesthetics, space and movement. It will describe how what we are witnessing can and maybe even should be framed in terms of space, aesthetics and form as well as figures, cohorts and trends. Perhaps it is not a cultural backlash that can explain the rise in populism but a backlash of the physical against the abstract and its movement in space.