For more detailed information, please change to the German version of this website.

Turning the Tide


After the Brexit vote and Donald Trump's election victory, the overwhelming reaction amongst many, not least artists and intellectuals, were feelings of shock and defeat. As many countries across Europe experience a similar pull towards far-right populism and post-truth politics, what seems at stake are the very foundations of civil society and democracy.

The often heated argument about what caused that cataclysmic situation is still in progress: is it predominantly a sign of protest against economic hardship caused by decades of neo-liberal agendas; the outcome of ruthless media propaganda using fake news and social media manipulation; a general backlash against women's and minority rights – or a toxic mixture of all three?

But while this discussion is still developing, many, and some for the first time, have started to ask themselves what they can actively do to ward off the worst, to help turn the tide. What are realistic options and strategies to counter, for example, the seeming hegemony that ar-right populism has gained in social media? What imagery and tactics of persuasion and protest could help defend, and build, an awareness of what's at stake?

The idea of this conference is to bring together artists and intellectuals from different parts of Europe to share observations on the developments in their respective countries: not least in regard to upcoming elections in the Netherlands (March 2017), France (June), and Germany (September), in which far-right populists will likely gain further ground.

 A one-day conference hosted by the Institute for Art in Context at the University of the Arts Berlin (Universität der Künste Berlin).


11:00 Welcome and Introduction
Jörg Heiser (Director of the Institute for Art in Context, Berlin)

11:30 USA: Reason and Resistance in a Post-truth World
Susan Neiman (Philosopher, Director of Einstein Forum, Potsdam

12:15 The Netherlands:Far-Right Populists and Social Media
Robin van den Akker (Philosopher, Erasmus University, Rotterdam)

13:00 Discussion
Robin van den Akker, Jörg Heiser, Susan Neiman

13:30 Lunch

14:30 Poland: Organizing Protest under a Right-Wing Government
Adrian Zandberg (Historian, member of "Razem", Warsaw)

15:30 Short Break

15:45 Big Data and Elections Hannes Grassegger (Journalist, Zurich, tbc)

16:15 UK: After Brexit Adam Broomberg (artist and professor at HfbK Hamburg, London)

16:45 Italy: After the Referendum Barbara Casavecchia (art critic, journalist and curator, Milan)

17:15 Discussion Adam Broomberg, Barbara Casavecchia & Jörg Heiser

17:45 Short Break 

18:00 France: Paralysis? Cristina Ricupero (curator, Paris)

18:30 Closing Discussion: What next? Robin van den Akker, Joanna Bronowicka (Centre for Internet and Human Rights, Europe University Viadrina Frankfurt/Oder), Jörg Heiser & Cristina Ricuper