Conspiratorial Mythologies

In times of post-truth, fake news and misinformation, it is increasingly challenging to discern fiction from reality. Conspiratorial Mythologies proposes alternative means to disseminating and deciphering conspiracy theories; likening their narratives to ancient Greek myths, as tragedies, rites, celebrations and crafts become the instruments through which their stories are being told.

This project  explores the role of conspiracy theories as substitutes to religious and ancient myths. It materialises collective fears to understand the complex power dynamics and structures surrounding our societies. How do conspiracy theories pervasive narratives shape worldviews? What truths, if any, do they contain? And most importantly, what can these stories tell about the underlying fears that led to their creation?

In the autumn of 2018 I came across an article in The Guardian on crazy geographic conspiracies. One of them was the belief that Finland is not a real country, meaning that there is no landmass where w believe this country to be. After a little bit of online digging, I found the original Reddit comment that prompted the theory.

The first part of this project aimed at finding the empirical and factual evidence and bring it back to the community of believers.

I spent a week in the summer of 2018 working at the Geo-spatial Research Institute in Finland, measuring the topographical characteristics of the country with their cartographers and researchers.

When I fed my findings back onto Reddit I got immediately confronted by the community and banned from the group. This prompted a second stage in the project informed by the fact that denying the theory had only intensified the belief within the community, and created a bigger gap between them and me.

As any piece of narrative, conspiracy theories have actors. Fictional characters informed by our perception of different agents around us. This actors play a key role in helping us, as reader and spectators, to understand societal structures. I analysed the inner mechanics of conspiracy theories from a narrative perspective, presenting a world governed by evil, whereby the powerful and wealthy few work to conceal the truth. I focused on the archetypal characters present in all conspiracy theories- mass media communication, the politician, the corporation, and the scientific community- to reflect on our collective understanding of reality  and societal structures.

The Greek Tragedy system, as understood by Augusto Boal, is a powerfull coercive and social correction tool. It portrays a flawed and highly relatable hero, who blinded by their pursue of happiness, acts outside of what is socially accepted.

@Raregan is a performance in five acts which follows the structure of ancient Greek tragedies to tell the story of a contemporary hero. The plots revolves around a geographic conspiracy questioning the existence of Finland and follows @Raregan, a Reddit user, in his quest to uncover the truth.

The purpose of this piece is to question the dissemination of Conspiracy theories and explore the possibility of fiction providing for a frame for us, as contemporary actors, to purge our fears and reflect on the consequences of our scepticism and distrust for political systems.

It was performed by Ysbrant Bakker, Ryan Eykholt, Priya Van Vooren, Erik Byrens and Niels Nijsman. And done with the support of the Goethe Instutuut, De Marktkantine and Westhaven Studios.