The Rise of Populism

The Rise of Populism is a multiannual photography project about populist developments in Europe with stories from The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, France, Italy, United Kingdom, Finland, Greece and Germany.

Terror Utøya

© Andrea Gjestvang

Over sixty years after the Second World War, the democratic establishment in Western Europe is under heavy criticism from populist movements. Political parties like the Freedom Party (PVV) in The Netherlands or the People’s Party (Dansk Folkeparti) in Denmark are pointing out that matters like – in their eyes – failing immigration, the Islamist threat and the recent economic crisis are the result of poor and soft government policies, often using bold and populist rhetoric. Astonished and worried by the changes taking place, photographers Dirk-Jan Visser (NL), Jan-Joseph Stok (NL) and Mads Nissen (DK), who covered many conflict areas around the world, figured it was time to investigate this phenomenon of the rise of populism closer to home.


© Ed Thompson

Together with a group of European photographers, they are documenting these political populist shifts in West-Europe since the beginning of 2012. Each photographer creates a story from a personal perspective where the local aspects of populism in their own country emerge. These collected stories will pose and raise questions on the state of the contemporary European political and social situation.

The launch of The Rise of Populism, in collaboration with Vrede van Utrecht’s program Arts in Conflict, takes place from 21 September until 14 October at the Stadhuisplein (Town Hall square) in Utrecht.