Sleek Mag, Germanies international magazine based in Berlin is „an online and quarterly printed magazine with an avant-garde attitude to art and fashion. Devoted to the artists, designers and photographers that change the way we see our world, we seek to uncover what drives the here and now.“
We are happy that THE SCHOOL OF POPULISM (follow your pet) was featured, both in the print and online issue:
Populism appears to understand easy on the surface, as it appeals to the most blatant sensibilities of inward-thinking and fearful people. Despite this, the true meaning of the term can get obscured; either due to contradicting reports in the media, the internet or from politicians themselves. This confusion in turn leads to easier control from populists of the general populace. As a result, it is up to every one of us to always think critically when observing this phenomenon. The first step is being able to define it. The second is being able to explain this to others. This is a difficult task, as any cogent analysis can become either too academic or too niche to make a real impact. The real solution: cute cat gifs!
The brainchilds behind FOLLOWYOUR.PET are multidisciplinary artists Boris Eldagsen & Sabine Taeubner. Introducing their work, made with the help of prominent theorists and activists, they write that “the internet is a field of political influence and propaganda.” As a result, they found a way to hack the system by using “web content that currently rates as the most popular: cute cat-gifs.” While it’s evident they are being slightly tongue-in-cheek, their “trojan cats” are a clever click-bait tactic to provoke necessary discussion. Below are examples of some of their best gifs, with the accompanying text. Firstly:
#01 “Consider the notion of a ‘people’ that share similar values and needs. The people behave and represent the population’s silent majority.”
#07 “‘Trust no one, except us!’ Everyone who is against us is a traitor, directed by foreign forces or corrupt elites. This is especially true in the case of the opposition, the media and the do-gooders.”
#09 “Take over the State, for it belongs to the people! Take over the courts and the media, as they should serve the people. What about art and culture? It needs to glorify our people!”
A Small Alphabet Of Demagogic Tools
B “Declare a state of emergency: the country is going downhill. Fuel fears to confirm your solutions.”
H “Divert strong negative emotions such as hate, envy, fear, anger and aggression to your own interests.”
Z “Be nationalistic: Insist that your country is Number 1 and more worthy of protection than any other. This revaluation will instil confidence in the people and gratitude in return.”
Why This Approach To Understanding Populism Works
Think about it. Why did you click on this article in the first place? Was it because it was about populism, or because it was about cats? The point is that it doesn’t matter, but that you are here now. Nonetheless, the attention span of anyone on the internet can be extremely fast paced. I, for one, have several tabs open at the same time at any given time, sometimes flittering randomly between them. By combining one of the easiest forms of entertainment (cat gifs) with the serious issues of our age (populism), FOLLOWYOUR.PET expertly wields the short-time frame of the internet in order to change people’s perceptions and allow them to think for themselves. And with all of the gifs easy to find and share, we can get to work straight away.