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Watch Out: The Great Conspiracy

The number of conspiracy theories increased exponentially in the 20th century. The power of images is at work. And to use a contemporary image, conspiracy theories spread like viruses. The first ones date back to the 12th century. What began with horror stories about poisoned wells had by the 19th century developed into the horror story of the Jewish world conspiracy.

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Then came the assassination of JFK, the disappearance of the real Paul McCartney, the moon landing filmed by Stanley Kubrick. And for some people, it all fits together perfectly. Life motto: "Google that! If you Google everything, you have an opinion about everything. Expert opinions, of course.

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Some stories grow old, others stay young forever. And rumours can spread easily when people are infected with a real virus. After all, the virus of conspiracy theories needs a host - and a regulars' table.


Images have been circulating for a long time that are no longer just images. They are traces. Clues. Signs. At the same time, we find ourselves on factual ground. Anyone involved in digital and pop culture cannot avoid the narratives that conspiracy theorists put out into the world to gain power over images. Images can be and are manipulated. The space for interpretation has become a media playground. But what happens to the images and what do they do to us?

In the pub, every conspiracy theory needs a culprit. "The media" or "those at the top". We are part of "the media" ourselves, and have noticed this: The conspiracy theatre always works on the same modular principle. You assemble a conspiracy theory like a Billy shelf from Ikea. Something like that. Truth and reality become interchangeable variables.

Resistance, on the other hand, is the hard currency of conspiracy theorists. Resistance is also growing in the land of poets and lateral thinkers. The civil liberties threatened by the shutdown have been defended on YouTube. The democratisation of culture and science is making this possible. TV icons no longer use communication channels just for self-promotion. They share secret knowledge with their followers. People meet again in the street or in front of the Reichstag.

Anyone who harbours ill intentions towards the rebellious is suspected of organising a witch hunt. Delusions of persecution bind us together. The conspiracy theorists themselves are a conspiratorial bunch - and QAnon is something like their ersatz religion. But just who is this Q? We explore these and other questions, including a conversation with artist Arne Vogelgesang.

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One person finds an image - and there really is no shortage of images in the daily growing pop-cultural and digital memory - and the other finds a corresponding historical event. The conspiracy theory is complete. The frequency of such coincidences: increasing. Q likes it. The right likes it. There is probably only one defence against this twisted kind of "truth": the real truth. And what might that be? With our thematic focus on FFCGN, we want to get one step closer. Watch out!