IETM Brussels Plenary Meeting 2017

23 November 2017 to 26 November 2017

Can we talk?

Art in the age of populism

We live in an age of confusion. Some political circles nourish our suspicion against the “other”, some incite our aversion to the neoliberal status-quo. Many propagate exclusion, as well as solidarity – with the unprivileged, amongst those who share the same ethnic identity... Each side assumes they own the moral case, demonising the opponent and believing they fight for a good cause. Meanwhile, simplification, antagonism and provocation are sweeping over the political scene.

What is populism – ideology, movement or simply a style? Is it a weapon against democracy – because it shrinks the space for plurality? Or is it its last vessel of hope – because it brings politics closer to the people? Is populism inherently bad, or is it just the guise it comes in?  

How can we, in the art sector, counter populist hysteria and break down this black-and-white palette of political colouring? And how can we burst the elitist bubble we have become trapped in, and provide for more engagement with our co-citizens?  

Brussels, the city of diversity and contrasts, hosted our four-day reflection on how art can help to overcome the "us against them" discourse, put together the pieces of fragmented societies and shape a truly different future. Read the meeting review here.