Steve Bannon: A Propaganda Retrospective


The exhibition-project Steve Bannon: A Propaganda Retrospective offers an overview of the artistic, cultural, and political work of Stephen K. Bannon (Norfolk, Virginia, 1953). Bannon is best known as the campaign manager and later as the senior White House advisor for US President Donald Trump, as well as former editor-in-chief of Breitbart News – the self-declared home of the so-called alt-right.

Less well known is Bannon’s work as a filmmaker, which saw him direct ten documentary film-pamphlets between 2004 and 2018 in a style he has termed “kinetic cinema.” His films sketch a grim profile of a world on the brink of disaster, beset by economic crisis, secular hedonism, and Islamic fundamentalism. In Bannon’s films “strong” leaders such as Ronald Reagan, Sarah Palin, and Donald Trump emerge as the sole defenders of the doctrine of white Christian economic nationalism.

The exhibition-project Steve Bannon: A Propaganda Retrospective aimed to show how Trumpism was decades in the making through Bannon’s propaganda work. It therefore provides an example of the importance of propaganda art in the surge of the international alt-right. The exhibition-project analyzed and deconstructed the mechanisms of propaganda and raised the question of how to create counter-narratives in the form of an “emancipatory propaganda art,” amongst others through the international conference Propaganda Art Today (June 2, 2018).


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