2019 | The Voters and the Politicians

“People may not always think big themselves, but they can still get very excited by those who do.”

Donald J. Trump, Art of the Deal

The Voters and the Politicians is the second work in the series CONTROL, of which The Operators and the Targets was the first. Taking its outset in a personal experience – my first conscious contact with the democratic system during a political demonstration as a teenager in Denmark – I attempt to analyze the relationship between voters and politicians in Western democracies through a series of typical or iconic situations and types. Describing problems of populism, voter fraud or proclaiming a political preference are not the goal, rather, I wish to question what I see as the core of the (current) democratic process: the division of people into groups, and pitting them against each other for political gain.

How this works, the language, imagery and motives behind it are touched upon from different perspectives. I wanted to do justice to the successes of Western democracies, but also to discuss the problems inherent to a system in which the votes of the majority delivers power to rule over all. What wouldn’t you do to gain that power?

The Voters and the Politicians. Single channel video, stereo, duration 15.00 min., 2019

Finding the right image material and editing it was a long and complicated process. I was looking for visual material that was archetypal of the democratic process, symbolized by the run-up to an election. Who appears on stage and how? I decided quite early on that everything should be black and white, colors have too many political connotations and could easily be seen as an endorsement or discussion of party politics. Black and white also gives the video a (deceptively) nostalgic feeling, suggesting a familiarity with democracy that may not exist in reality anymore.

A viewer of The Operators and the Targets once told me that while watching the video, she became entranced by my calm voice, as if I were reading a bedtime story to her. I thought it was a beautiful metaphor, and wonder whether the stories we tell ourselves about the value(s) of democracy have themselves become bedtime stories; meant to reassure and pacify us.

Both works, The Operators … and The Voters …, are in a sense analytical in nature. I try to understand and make understandable the real situations that form the starting point. Although the actors mentioned in the situations described, influence each other at different levels and with different purposes, there are, in my view, parallels between the positions of the actors. By isolating and portraying these extremes within a closed system, I attempt to visualize a system in which both actors exert a form of control over the other. By giving the actors a voice in the videos I try to introduce a humane approach in the story. I hope that this creates a moment of recognition for the spectator. I hope this leads to an understanding of how these types of control systems exist not only in the digital world, but all around us, in the bedtime stories we tell each other.

I hope that the spectator will feel a bit awakened after seeing my work, perhaps even a bit complicit. And from that insight feels encouraged to act.

The Voters and the Politicians. Single channel video, stereo, duration 15.00 min., 2019

The full video will be available here after the first screening on May 25th at Enough Room for Space (more info soon). In case you can’t wait, hover your mouse here to get the password, then watch it on Vimeo.