Redpilled is a story about the spread of alt-right ideology and its close correlation with the global rise of meme culture. Told from the perspective of Wojak (lit. soldier)— a hugely popular meme character known for its versatile ability to lend itself to a number of human stereotypes – the work delves into the dangerous humour and fascination with violence perpetuated by memes. Throughout the work, references are made to recent terror attacks, such as the Christchurch shooting, drawing a direct connection between the seemingly harmless online environment of nihilism and its violent ‘real-life’ consequences.

If meme humour seems innocent at first glance, it is because it is designed to. Kickstarting mildly racist, misogynist and antisemitic jokes prepare the ground for ideas seen as extreme to slowly enter the mainstream political discourse. Through their massive appeal to younger generations, memes are increasingly being used as a gateway drug — an effective tool for spreading elements of alt-right ideology.

The term meme (from the Greek mimema, ‘imitated’) was first introduced in 1976 by the British biologist Richard Dawkins, who thought of memes as the cultural parallel to biological genes, in control of their reproduction. Their comic element is established around a fixed set of characters such as Wojak, Pepe the Frog, Doge, Overly Attached Girlfriend, or Trollface. Like memes themselves, these characters undergo continuous evolution. Wojak, a character drawn using Microsoft Paint, was initially launched as a relatable ‘I know that feel, bro’ guy with a warm facial expression, and it evolved over time to include the categories of doomer, zoomer and boomer. Although these all parody their respective generations of Millennials, Gen-Z and Baby boomers, the narratives are generally told from the perspective of doomers with a dismissive attitude towards boomers, as epitomized in the expression ‘ok boomer’. A doomer, typically male, is the archetype of nihilism and despair. He is a victim of different hardships with a fatalist attitude towards global issues such as climate change and overpopulation. His common fantasy is to rise above the ‘normies’ after being enlightened or ‘redpilled’. This expression, which originated on the anonymous 4chan imageboard website, is a reference to the 1999 movie The Matrix. Shortly after its first appearance, it was adopted by far-right political subcultures, gradually coming to mean that a person has been disillusioned about reality, often radicalised in some way.

Written and directed by Jakob Ganslmeier & Ana Zibelnik
Sound by Daniel Hermann-Collini
Animation by Oddkin

Redpilled was produced within the scope of Houses of Darkness (2020-2023), a culture cooperation project co-funded by Creative Europe and a joint initiative of four partners in Norway, Germany, and the Netherlands: Bergen-Belsen Memorial (DE), Camp Westerbork Memorial Centre (NL), Falstad Centre (NO), and Paradox.

Redpilled was generously funded by the BBK Neustart Kultur grant


Brenton Tarrant, the man responsible for two consecutive mass shootings at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand (2019), marked up his two AR-15 style riffles in handwritten text referencing extremist right-wing ideologies and previous terrorist attacks. Tarrant cited Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik, Dylann Roof and others as an inspiration.

Some of the symbols that appeared on his riffles and clothing during the attacks:

  • 14

    Shorthand for Fourteen Words: "We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children,” coined by white supremacist David Lane.

  • The Iron Guard (Romanian: Garda de Fier) was a Romanian militant revolutionary fascist movement and a political party founded in 1927 by Corneliu Zelea Codreanu.

  • The othala rune is part of several runic alphabet systems that were common in pre-Roman Europe. The Nazis adopted this rune, among others, into their symbology, eventually causing it to become a popular symbol among the white supremacists of today.

  • The black sun is another example of ancient European symbols appropriated by the Nazis in their attempt to invent an idealized "Aryan/Norse" heritage. Particularly the SS under Reichsführer Heinrich Himmler frequently used the black sun symbol, which has led neo-Nazis and other modern white supremacists to adopt such imagery.

  • 2083

    A nod to the lengthy manifesto of Anders Breivik.

  • Feliks Kazimierz Potocki

    Participated in the Vienna expedition in 1683 during the Great Turkish War and fought against Tatars and Turks in many battles.

  • Sebastiano Venier

    Doge of Venice who fought against the Turks during the Fourth Ottoman-Venetian War.

  • Alexandre Bissonnette

    The university student who burst into the Quebec City mosque on January 29, 2017, and opened fire on 40 people and four children.

  • Tours 732

    Battle of Tours, 732. Kingdom of the Franks defeats Al-Andalus Arabs in central France, halting their advance.

  • Vienna 1683

    Siege and Battle of Vienna, 1683. The farthest advance of Ottomans into Europe.

  • Turkofagos

    Literally: Turk-eater. The nickname was attributed to the Greek revolutionary Nikitaras or Nikitas Stamatelopoulos during the Greek Revolution and War of Independence of 1821 against the Ottoman occupation. The word is still used by modern Greeks to describe somebody with “deep-rooted hate” against their Turkish neighbors.


Other hate symbols and codes:

  • Since the early 1800s, the gesture increasingly became associated with the word “okay” or its abbreviation “ok.” Recently, the “okay” hand gesture acquired a new and different significance, after being used by white supremacists to express the letters ‘wp,’ an abbreviation for ‘white power.’

  • 23/16

    Representing the twenty-third and sixteenth letters of the alphabet, W and P, meaning "White Power" or "White Pride”.

  • 9%

    The percentage of the world's population that is purportedly white.

  • 18

    Refers to the first and eighth letter of the alphabet, giving ‘AH’ or Adolf Hitler.

  • 88

    A white supremacist numerical code for “Heil Hitler.” H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so 88 stands for HH or Heil Hitler.

  • 311

    311 is a number used by Ku Klux Klan members to refer to the Klan. The eleventh letter of the alphabet is the letter “K”; thus 3 times 11 equals “KKK,” i.e., Ku Klux Klan.

  • 100%

    An expression of an individual’s pure Aryan or white roots.

  • Day of the rope

    A phrase referring to a fictional event in the neo-Nazi book The Turner Diaries. In the novel, the "Day of the Rope" is an event where mass lynchings took place against minorities, journalists, race-mixers, and politicians, all within the span of a day.

  • The Great Replacement

    The term was first used in the book Le Grand Replacement by the French writer Renaud Camus in 2011. It shares many features with other conspiracy theories claiming to reveal plans to usurp or pollute the ‘white race,’ most notably David Lane’s ‘white genocide conspiracy theory’ (ca. 1988).

Exhibition views

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Documentation Center Bergen-Belsen Memorial 

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Ifa Tree Fellina Forest 9ana 2

Foam © Christian van der Kooy

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Wewelsburg Museum 

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Galery Nadan, Berlin

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