Basilisks are a fabled chimeric reptile, known to be kings of serpents and said to have the power to kill anyone with a single glance. According to one version of the legend, the only person to successfully kill a basilisk did so by wearing a suit of mirrors, which reflected its toxic gaze back at the creature, turning it into stone. The Alt-Right’s ‘Cult of Kek’ is a semi-sarcastic 4chan-derived religion based around Pepe the Frog, Donald Trump and the frog-headed Egyptian god of chaos, Kek. The Kekist’s memes function much like the basilisk, harming the viewer with mere exposure. With social media having been elevated into the primary arena for political persuasion, it appears that, against all odds, alt-right shitposters’ ‘Meme Magick’ became a decisive force in 2016. In 2017, can we shine a mirror at this basilisk and learn how to apply these tactics to a metapolitical agenda that can stand in opposition to the chaotic nihilism of r/The_Donald, /pol/ - Politically Incorrect and Frog Twitter?
Daniel Keller is an artist and writer born in Detroit and based in Berlin. As half of the collective Aids-3D and as a solo artist, his work has been exhibited at: New Museum, New York; Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris; Kunsthalle Wien, Vienna; Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw; Fridericianum, Kassel; KW Institute for Contemporary Art, Berlin; and Kraupa-Tuskany Zeidler Gallery, Berlin. He’s recently given talks at: 9th Berlin Biennial; Institute of Contemporary Arts, London; DLD Conference, Munich; CODE_n Festival at ZKM, Karlsruhe; and Swiss Institute, New York. Keller co-organized TEDxVaduz at Kunsthalle Liechtenstein and is a contributor to Texte zur Kunst, Dis Magazine, Spike Art Online, Monopol and Frieze D/E. His text, ‘Timeline of the Alt-Fact’ will be published in the forthcoming issue of Texte zur Kunst and his ‘2017 Field Guide to American Toxic Masculinity’ in Monopol.