January 20, 12:00 PM–5:00 PM
The Brooklyn Rail
False Flag: The Space Between Paranoia and Reason
FRANKLIN STREET WORKS | SEPTEMBER 22, 2018 – JANUARY 6, 2019
Rumors of mind control and impending destruction are continuously propagated in the darker corners of society, but in times of heightened anger and division paranoia seeps into mainstream rhetoric, permeating even the most reasonable political discussions. Tracing the movement of what he calls “the paranoid style” through similarly contentious moments in American politics, historian Richard Hofstadter notes, “It is the use of paranoid modes of expression by more or less normal people that makes the phenomena significant.”1
Connecticut Art Review
Review | False Flag: The Space Between Paranoia and Reason
Curator and artist Jeff Ostergren conceived of the idea for the show, False Flag: The Space Between Paranoia and Reason, in September 2016. The United States presidential election was approaching and many (this writer included) believed we’d soon be celebrating the first female president in this nation’s history.
Instead, we witnessed “Pizzagate,” a conspiracy theory—now debunked—that went viral the next month. Pizzagate motivated Edgar Maddison Welch, a 28-year-old North Carolinian, to investigate one of the Washington D.C. area restaurants where child sex slaves were purportedly being kept. (They weren’t.) Welch brought along and fired a rifle inside the pizza place. No one was hurt and Welch was arrested. Still, some theorized that the incident had been staged as an elaborate rouse to obfuscate the veracity of the very theory Welch’s actions unhinged. With Pizzagate—its irrational turn of events and its inability to be quashed—the ubiquity of and investment in paranoiac beliefs appeared to surge brazenly into the present.