In the title ”Enacting Populism” lays the ways in which the project wants to create a relation with this contemporary populist condition of Europe. ‘Enact’ means to make a plan realized, to carry it on but also to make a representation of this plan, to interpret it. These are the two dynamics that the project follows, having always a double level with which to deal with the concept of populism.
As Dieter Lesage says in its Populism and Democracy, “Populism has many different faces. Many different things can be called populism for very good reasons”, and these different faces of what populism might mean will be the ones investigated in the research opened by the residency period, analyzing important historical passages of this rising phenomenon. In fact, if the populist zeitgeist – as Cas Mudde has named it – we’re experiencing seems to belong only to right wing parties – making the concept behind the current populism one with the conservative and xenophobic right wing discourses – the concept in itself is not ascribable just to this genealogy. Ernesto Laclau was one among the firsts to acknowledge to populism a dimension inherent to any democratic politics, looking at it through an historical perspective and not just as right wing parties phenomenon. Starting from this point of view the process of enacting and making the aesthetic strategies embedded in the creation of a consensus visible, some very basic and fundamental mechanism, on which our representative democracies are based, becomes apparent.
The visual strategies that take place on a daily basis in the media sphere, on a purely visual level, in order to create alternative, cheap and fictional feelings of belonging, or rather in order to ‘construct’ that empty signifier that is ‘the people’, might not only be seen as completely negative productions of our times. They can also be seen as materials that can be much more easily deconstructed, so to offer clearer visions on how democracy looks like in our times. Moreover, developing an historical perspective on the idea we have on populism generates tools through which creating an awareness, and consequentially a potentiality for change, in our ways to comprehend participation.