When Chantal Mouffle in her essay Right-wing Populism: the Mistakes of the Moralistic Response, tries to trace back the reasons of the increasingly successful right wing populist parties thorough Europe, taking a look at some of the most evident cases from Austria to Italy, passing through France and Belgium, she highlights that a common element to all these cases has to be found in an anti-establishment spirit. A feeling rising from years of parties coalitions that merged more and more opposite sides of the democratic debate, often in order to better control the State apparatuses and their power structures through political elites, that often became also cultural ones. Among the cases, emerges the Belgium one with the Vlaams Blok party, which had its stronghold in Antwerp, right where a coalition between socialist and christian democrats had created a discoursive monopoly for several decades. The VB Belgian party, in 2004, became an important case for the whole European scene, because of the impressive result in the European elections, with a 24,1 percent of votes, that made the party the second most important one in the whole of Flanders.
When twenty years ago, with the end of the Cold War, and consequentially with the end of any possible political ideology – that was still attached to a general belief in Communism in the left groups of the Western democracies – to give shape to the political agenda, the parties started to mirror this ending with the flattening of their positions in the public debate, starting to respond only to a general capitalism discourse about a global market that needed to find its way. From that point the political action softened the natural antagonism of democracy, and thus creating a lack of opposite and distinct political projects, that left space for a popular frustration and the consequent articulation of that feeling by demagogues.
This enlarged community we call Europeans, that in the recent times seems to have been shaped by the sake of the neo liberal logics, is now facing the lack of political planning quality that have led to a serious difficulty, also in the cultural production field, in reading and confronting with the new social spheres, sons of a current economical post fordist condition. In the meanwhile a so called popular culture, shaped by a culture industry, is certainly seen nowadays as more representative than an official and dominant culture that keeps busy the world elites in fairs and biennials. What are the critical tools that a visual arts perspective can still offer in the reading of these gaps that have been created? How can an artistic approach give voice to that popular frustration that when left unheard easily turn into populism?