There are only a few days to go until Germany holds its federal election on Sunday, September 24th 2017. As Angela Merkel faces a tougher re-election campaign while seeking a fourth term in office, anti-immigration populist groups have enjoyed rocketing support, fuelled by concerns over the refugee crisis, terror attacks and mass sexual assaults. Despite trailing behind at 11 percent, the nationalist party Alternative for Germany (AfD) is expected to enter the national parliament for the first time. The far-right party that has welcomed both Brexit and Donald Trump’s surprise victory last year, has gained an uptick in support during the final weeks of the campaign, suggesting it might even be able to form the third-largest group in the Bundestag. Expressing concern over this possibility, the photographer Wolfgang Tillmans has issued a series of shareable posters designed to rouse the electorate to action.
Aggressively against recent German immigration policy and the euro zone as it is currently known, AfD is mostly about preserving traditional German culture through measures such as immediate deportation for failed asylum-seekers. In an announcement sent out by Galerie Buchholz and presented on the website for his own Berlin-based project space Between Bridges, Wolfgang Tillmans writes that AfD is planning a sustained online campaign over the next week to capitalize on polls that forecast the party, winning dozens of parliamentary seats. Using the services of the American agency Harris Media, which has already helped Brexit and Trump last year, the far-right party is hoping to appeal to nationalist resentments and win 15% of the votes, becoming the strongest opposition group and gaining space for normalizing the right-radical ideas.
In his latest announcement, Tillmans warns there is no reason to be relaxed and to believe that the new right-wing nationalist movements would move past Germany. If they manage to gain power, he explains, they would use and abuse the means of democracy to poison the country’s communities. Despite the fact that the party is striving to give a non-radical picture, the artist recalled their anti-immigration posters that showed a pregnant woman and a slogan reading “New Germans? We’ll make them ourselves”. As he explains, these advertisements strongly evoke the Nazi-era Lebensborn initiative that promoted the creation of Aryan children. Thus, the artist invites the voters to participate in the general election and fight the possibility of AfD entering the parliament.
This is not the first time Wolfgang Tillmans has joined the political debate with free shareable posters. Prior to Brexit vote last year, the famed photographer has released a set of 25 uncommissioned motivational posters to encourage UK residents to vote against Brexit. This time, he acted on his urgent need to ensure that the right-wing populism in Germany remains within small limits. These latest posters he has designed can be downloaded here and used both for printing and social media formats. “Please communicate the urgency of the situation to as many people, acquaintances, and family as possible,” Tillmans writes. “Every vote counts. Print the posters and ask in a pub, bakery, or workplace whether you can hang one. Or post it online.”
Featured image: Wolfgang Tillmans poster (detail). All images via the artist's website.