Exhibition — Apr 30 until Aug 27, 2005

The Populism project tries to formulate concrete spaces for experience, reflection, and discussion linked to a contemporary political and cultural phenomenon that is as complex as it is widespread.

"Populism has many different faces. Many different things can be called populism for very good reasons. We may not necessarily agree on the meaning of the term populism. And maybe the term populism should not necessarily have only one meaning. The usefulness of a term with different meanings resides in the fact that it may hint at family resemblances between different phenomena called populism. Therefore, in any project on populism, it might soon appear that the contributors – artists, academics, writers and other intellectuals – will use the word in many different ways."
Dieter Lesage, “Populism and Democracy”, 2005, in The Populism Reader

In spring 2005 NIFCA, the Nordic Institute for Contemporary Art, launches Populism, an exhibition project in four European cities exploring the relationships between contemporary art and current populist cultural and political trends.

There is little doubt that populist movements gain large parts of their persuasive power from their ability to play on affects and desires that are supposedly exempt from the procedures that mark official democratic politics. At this level an art exhibition can provide a space that differs from that of other public forums. The point of departure is the idea that the affects and desires that characterise populist politics are not necessarily separate from the ones that find expression in the sphere of art. Key questions are how forms of populism – whether left wing or right wing, progressive or reactionary – promote themselves and their quest for mass appeal through a stylistic and aesthetic consciousness. The political imagination of visual art can get involved in these economies of signs and desires, and address current cultural discussions through proposals for other directions for democracy.
Populism includes new works and projects by around 40 international artists and artist groups, bringing together challenging works in a multitude of artistic strategies. The exhibitions take place in parallel at the following venues:

The Contemporary Art Centre, Vilnius. Opening April 8 through June 4
National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design, Oslo. Opening April 15 through September 2
Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam. Opening April 29 through August 28
Frankfurter Kunstverein, Frankfurt a.M. Opening May 10 through September 4

The Populism exhibitions are accompanied by two books:

The Populism Reader is an anthology that comprises twenty texts on the various aspects of populism, written by political scientists, journalists, art historians and activists. Among the contributors are Chantal Mouffe, Ernesto Laclau, Brian Holmes, Ingo Niermann, Audrone Zukauskaite, Marius Babias, David Trads, Ina Blom, Bart Lootsma, Niels Werber, Piotr Piotrowski, Lars-Erik Frank and others. The Populism Reader is illustrated by Atelier van Lieshout.

The Populism Catalogue includes documentation of the four exhibitions along with an anthology of short stories by Matias Faldbakken, Liam Gillick and other authors.
The books have introductions by the curators and are designed by M/M (Paris). Editorial co-ordinator: Eva May. Editorial committee: Vanessa Joan Müller, Marita Muukkonen, Jill Winder. Documentation: Andrea Stappert. Publisher: Lukas & Sternberg, Berlin/New York.
Furthermore, a tabloid exhibition guide – The Populist – in English and the local languages will be available for free at the different venues.

During 2005 lecture programs on populism are planned in a number of European cities in connection with the Populism project. In addition media partners in each country will be highlighting issues in relation to the project’s theme.

The exhibition does not aim to illustrate its theme through populist art. Instead, the artists in the exhibitions deal in different ways with populist sentiments and ideologies of our time, through sub-themes such as: the mass media projection of poli
tics; market populism and the cultural industries; group and corporate identities; representations and spaces of “the people”; law, order and security; religious and moral controversy; nationalism and xenophobia. While some artists strive to find positive populisms beyond demagogy and give a voice to the dispossessed, others explore alternative strategies of representation and organisation as a critique of the populist promise.

Juan Pérez Agirregoikoa
Fatma Akinci
Petra Bauer
Bernadette Corporation
Marc Bijl
Jakob Boeskov
Martin Le Chevallier
Phil Collins
Minerva Cuevas
Jeremy Deller
Dias & Riedweg
Gardar Einarsson & Matias Faldbakken
Esto TV
Anita Fricek
Jens Haaning & Superflex
Russell Haswell
Henry Vlll´s Wives
Henrik Plenge Jakobsen
Susanne Jirkuff
Amar Kanwar
Matthieu Laurette
Jani Leinonen
Erik van Lieshout
Annika Lundgren
Cildo Meireles
Jean-François Moriceau & Petra Mrzyk
Sarah Morris
Begoña Muñoz
Roman Ondak
Kirstine Roepstorff
Willem de Rooij
Julika Rudelius
Stig Sjölund with Ronny Hansson, Jonas Kjellgren and Birgitta Tholander
Otto Snoek
Sean Snyder
Temporary Services
Milicia Tomic
Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas
Wang Du

Documentary on Thomas Hirschhorn's project Swiss-Swiss Democracy by Nicolas Trembley
Please note that this is a preliminary list and that not all artists will be in every version of the exhibition.

Curators: Lars Bang Larsen, Cristina Ricupero and Nicolaus Schafhausen.
Project Co-ordinator: Nathalie Aubret.

Populism is developed through a network of artists, curators and theorists who are brought together to debate the themes related to populism and elaborate a discourse together:

Board of institutional advisors: Ina Blom from the Department of art History IAKK, University of Oslo, Leontine Coelewij from the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, Lolita Jablonskiene from the Contemporary Art Information Centre in Vilnius, Gavin Jantjes from The National Museum for Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo, Maaretta Jaukkuri from the Faculty of Architecture and Fine Arts, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim, and Vanessa Joan Müller, Frankfurter Kunstverein.

Click here for the design by M/M (Paris)
For the Populism logos, click here

Please also note that a website for Populism will open in the beginning of March 2005, at the following address: www.populism2005.com

NIFCA: www.nifca.org
Stedelijk Museum: www.stedelijk.nl
Centre for Contemporary Art: www.cac.lt
Frankfurter Kunstverein: www.fkv.de
The National Museum for Art, Architecture and Design: www.nasjonalmuseet.no