Make Britain Great Again.


In 2015 Donald Trump announced his presidential run and I got a baseball cap made that said 'Make Britain Great Again' - as a joke.

In 2016, before the election, I submitted a photograph of my cap to a call-out for an online pro-Trump exhibition, also as a joke. The piece was then selected and has since been exhibited here: Online Exhibition for Trump. Since then, when you search for my name online without the umlaut, you will most likely find this exhibition.

In 2017 I received an email saying that the work might be exhibited at the White House for their Easter celebrations. It wasn't.

In 2018 the print has fallen behind a book shelve at my friends' place, where it had been standing as a joke for a while and the award frame is in another friend's office - also as a joke.

This exhibition piece is about how satire can be dangerous. The hat was intended as a satirical tool against both American pro-Trump politics and British pro-Brexit politics, drawing comparison between the two and their similar ideologies of isolationist racist white supremacy.

As a German and European citizen with history and privilege, I wanted to use my own body as a satirical tool, hoping me wearing the hat in public, would be a nice visualisation of the issues that come with this ideology and anway. When I wore the hat in public, I could say I made a fun statement against Brexit. But I could also look like a neo-nazi to people who don't know me. I could say I managed to sneak an anti-Trump artwork into a pro-Trump exhibition - but I could also say, I allowed them to use the piece for their own purposes. In fact, I clearly did. Without my approval they described my work like this: 'Paffgen’s work speaks of the many similarities with the Trump and Brexit movements. It is now evident that the West is in the midst of a self-aware revolution.' The ambiguous statement 'Make Britain Great Again' is easy to be used that way - now there's a Fake News website under that name. Maybe I could claim I came up with it first?

So in March 2017 I made this exhibition piece, assembling every document of development of the piece which by then had developed a life of it's own. I used this space to not only show what can go wrong, when satirical work is exhibited in a different context, but also to make my own context and allow the hat to do what I had initially intended it to do. Which isn't all that much to be fair.

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There's a short video of how it looked in the space.