Showing posts from 2016

Transposed and Transformed

- All we have left is love. All we have left in the hell that is Syria right now. Through love we shall regain our humanity and a means of expressing love is in art. Art has become my objective.

The words above was in fact a much longer, beautifully winding impromtu monologue on the necessity of looking for the best in man, when everything is at its worst and spoken by Muhamad Ataya, who as a documentarist is following five Syrian artists in exile. We in turn did not even dare take out a smartphone to film the one, who had till then never spoken nor been documented himself.

We would not dare interrupt what had suddenly turned into that rare embodiment of a now. This was Adorno's appeal how critical art has a greater role to play than ever, spoken while surrounded by the exhibition walls of Animated Images by Sulafa Hijazi:

The above video was made by Sulafa herself, as were the "stills" as they are of her artworks printed in "Lenticular print technique". Each i…

The Rubble Age

The next time anyone declares how the true leader can be known by his or her Survival of the Fittest, simply point to Riber Hansson's portrait of Aleppo.

Indeed, Al-Assad and Putin are still alive.

Placing the hand of Death on everyone and everything around them, they crowned evolution with a "d", creating devolution. They are the degenerates leading the world to the Rubble Age.

They are proof that what is often perceived as strength is in truth just veneered cowardice.

The outlook of the one was to bat his own people to death, but he was too weak to do it on his own. The other needed to distract attention from the bleak economy at home following his poor management of the country and the quickie solution was as always to show muscles abroad.

All in all, they proved natural selection doubly wrong.

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Riber Hansson and must not be reproduced without his permission.

The Usurper

How is it even possible to draw on a day such as this, when all we do is to listen to those we trust the most on news from Aleppo?

But then, the cartoons are already drawn. They were drawn on the onset of the Syrian revolution and are as true today as they were in 2011.

For one thing, Ali Ferzat and Juan Zero each created a persona on Al-Assad, a counter image to the constant presence of his official portraits in the public sphere.

Theirs was a whimpering asparagus of a usurper to the throne. His struggle to keep a crown much too big for him atop his head formed a series of drawings by Juan Zero during the early stages of the conflict, while it was the throne that challenged him time after time in the cartoons by Ali Ferzat.

It was a tale too of two types of captivity. He was caught up in a position of power, which was not legitimately his as visualized by the crown many sizes too big for him. This in turn exposed the indignity in which the Syrians were living. The latter had the cou…

"You have no business to tell me what to draw"

"Zunar can draw whatever he wants, so long as it does not insult anyone. If the cartoonist draws things like old mcdonald or donald duck (sic) then go ahead, nobody cares. Just do not insult people."

- the Malaysian Inspector-General of Police was quoted for saying on Friday. Saturday Zunar announced that he would indeed draw Donald Duck and publish it today, creating great expectations on his drawn response:

The Inspector-General is as always part of the cartoon, this time wearing his own Donald Duck-mask for a mouth. In fact everyone is wearing one, with the prime minister right in front of us, while his wife is posing as Mickey Mouse. Her gigantic hair was made for those ears.

This is the society of drawing only niceties.

As Zunar put it: "Leader stole RM2.6 billion from the people and expect cartoonist to draw Donald Duck? You have no business to tell me what to draw"

On Friday the Inspector-General explained his Donald Duck-demand thus: "Let me put it to…

Holberg, Plato and Ivar Gjørup in Triunity

Holberg to the right is in festive gear for The Holidays. He turns - just a second... 2016 minus 1684... 332 years today. May I as a Louise take another second to note that he was a Ludvig? The playwright of comedies and essayist and oh so much more Ludvig Holberg celebrates his 332nd birthday today and every year on his birthday we celebrate in his name those who enrich our lives.

Such as the very person, who after his predecessors had agonized for 6000 years, proved that THE TRUTH is to be found in a comics album.

Ivar Gjørup was awarded this year's Holberg Medal as a researcher and creator alike. He is a distinguished researcher into Plato, while he as a cartoonist has drawn meaningfulness and nothingness alike. Realizing the former may prove fatal as it did to one of his protagonists in his (sorely missed) comics series Egoland, which ran for 25 years until 2009, while his Socrates let his readers graduate last year with a Diploma into nothingness.

Ivar's Socrates and Plat…

"Why pinch when u can punch?"

When the Malaysian authorities closes an exhibition under the pretense that it is undermining the state, why then it is high time for us all to taker a closer look on the "crime".

This time in the rest of the world.

So grab a good cup of tea or coffee, sink into your preferred corner of the world where you may be undisturbed and indulge in the universe of Zunar.

His cartoons consist by now of many layers of symbols on how Malaysia is run and his audience expects to find every single one of them in each cartoon.

While you browse the exhibition below in your preferred pace uninterrupted by my words, let us just recap the protagonists: the heavily nostriled Prime Minister Najib and his big bag of unlawfully grappled money, pushed forward in his enterprises by his wife of big black hair and a ginormous diamond ring. The police officer that has charged Zunar for tweeting is constantly tweeting and the WCM represents as far as I know the press licking up anything they are told.


On Violence Against Women

Women and girls constitute half of the world's population: the violence against them consequently constitutes a pandemic.

The portfolio of Doaa Eladl contains some of the strongest cartoons we have on the situation of women, proving as relevant in Saudi Arabia as in Europe at the very same time, which speaks of her mastery in nailing the problem.

For the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, Doaa Eladl has re-used the present cartoon consisting in layers in doubles. For one thing a painted imagery is imposed upon a penned one, and the painted hand - with the paint lacking in places just as it would laying hands on her on the paper - is at once the perpetrator and the STOP, just as the black eye of the battered woman is at once bruised and highlighting her direct gaze at us. Ad to this how the situation of violence within the cartoon is as messy as the message is clear.

Thus draweth a master.

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Doaa Eladl and must not be re…

The Lizard Tongued

Below is the latest cartoon by Zunar, who has been held at a police station in Penang for the past hours.

The detention follows from a week of attacks against Zunar' latest exhibition, with "protests" against his satire on Malaysian politicians, which in turn "forced" the police to close down the exhibition and Zunar's detention may come from allegations that he set up some kind of resistance? Zunar, really? However the specifics, this is all too neat. A chance taken to close down his exhibition, while taking his own person into custody.

It was not even a year ago he told us in Sweden, how nobody knows what the Malaysian prisons are like, since all is silence from within.

We shall of course continue to make noise on his situation of which the cartoon above is from the day before yesterday on the arrest of civil rights activist Maria Chin Abdullah. Prime Minister Najib has by now morphed into a clawing prison, with his diamond ring for a wife and bag of unla…

Prison Swap

So... the logic in Erdogan's Turkey, propsing to abolish the unlawfulness of underage marriage, is as follows:

1. It will boost the birth rates, which has been a key point in Erdogan's politics, considering little girls may be mothers at the age of 12 and they will be beautifully married too.

2. Child rapists shall no longer be termed rapists. They will be pardoned and since about 3,000 rapists used to be imprisoned a year, they will leave room for the teachers and journalists, with whom Erdogan has crammed the Turkish prisons. There are no teachers left anyway, the girls may as well be raped - sorry married - and begin bearing children instead.

Let us call it for what it is: a prison swap.

The little girls too will now be in a prison of their own for the rest of their lives.

Vasco Gargalo lets Erdogan's face be seen fully frontal as in a mug shot to make no mistake, who proposed the swap Presenting the precious young life in one of those sickening sweet boxes, heavily em…

The Flaying of Mankind

Humans are anatomically raw in the cartoons of Xaquín Marín Formoso, cartoonist, theorist of cartooning and founder of Museo del Humor de Fene.

The humans before us have been flayed. Their skin torn off them, leaving them stripped to their muscles and bones.

Flaying is a death sentence. Flaying has been with us since Antiquity to a degree that it is part of the art historian terminology. It has a visual violence to it, which has appealed to Greek gods and despots alike through the ages.

By flaying the skin, the individuality is forced off the human, all by which he or she can be known. The protagonists before us are of the same shape as the weaponry and debris, which make up their physical world. Their anatomy mirrors the shiny metal, only they themselves are raw and soft, making the realization of the true state of their physical presence all the more painful.

They may be stripped of their individuality, but their emotional range of anguish, fear and pan is all there and we experience…

Why Even Pretend?

We actually have imagery of how the globe should be cared for. The Little Prince nurtures his planet and his flower, sweeping the one clean and watering the other. A care, which entails positive action and outcome - albeit fictional - for us to go and do likewise.

Yet, action and outcome in our de facto world are ominous hands as drawn by FadiToOn with the statement: As long as the factories are still running in China and the United States have a president-elect who denies the existence of pollution, why even stage COP22?

The cartoon shown is courtesy of FadiToOn and must not be reproduced without his permission.

The Reign of The Passive

This date marks the enactment of laws altered to the purpose of murdering a section of the population to an extent that it turned into a genocide. The onset was named The Kristallnacht as in the name of the glass of their shop windows shattering as the sound of their lives and livelihood were removed from daily German life on November 9, 1938.

Anxious, unemployed, protest voters had been one means of installing the powers, which then went on to take steps to enact the genocide. Meanwhile the protest voters turned into passive, fearful sheep. 
Today we have once again been witnessing protest voters coming out in flocks, this time in the US and while we have nothing good to expect from the demagogue they elected, we ought to remember George Orwell's words cited today by David Remnick in The New Yorker "that the relative freedom we enjoy depends of public opinion. The law is no protection (...) If large numbers of people are interested in freedom of speech, there will be freedo…

The President-Elect

When Trump first appeared on the political stage, cartoonists everywhere delighted in the fact that he did not tick anything on the list of non-touchables. He was a white, middle-aged male and he could be drawn as outrageously as his actions.

Only, it was a sad enterprise. Or as Thomas Frank writes in the Guardian today: "There is a darkness about Trump that negates that sort of humor: a folly so bewildering, an incompetence so profound that no insult could plumb its depths".


The present cartoon was drawn during his campaign. This is the temper we have ahead of us. The timing of Magnus Bard's humor has cutting precision. It is each time of the ouch kind.

The cartoons of Magnus Bard are at first sight as clear-cut as his ideas, but then tiny details emerge as in this case from a perspective of endlessness manifesting how this man turned out to be the president elect.

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Magnus Bard and must not be reproduced without his permission.

"A terrorist cannot travel"

The UN celebrated its anniversary this week and with it the annual AHEM!! whether it is about time to vet the UN Human Rights Council of certain of its member states. The suggested replacements, though, are not necessarily of another metal. The candidacy of Malaysia for instance ought to be rejected as long as this is in essence the situation of the Malaysian cartoonists:

Zunar has been banned from traveling abroad, having had his passport withdrawn at the airport while about to fly to Singapore to participate in a forum. He has traveled widely since an indictment against him last year for nine tweets on the very same evening criticizing the fabricated conviction of an opposition leader. If convicted himself, Zunar may be sentenced to 43 years of imprisonment.

Zunar has been present in court whenever summoned and would have had every intention of being so too at November 22, when the "case" is allegedly to take off. There is consequently no acceptable reason for withdrawing …

When No Action is Left To Us

In times of infinite grief, we discover the grandeur of cartooning right before us.

The present cartoons by Angel Boligán would be at home in a cathedral of Giottos or Caravaggios to be seen by centuries of generations at a respectful distance, and possibly dimly lit through flickering lights, they would be towering before us on the struggle of life of mankind.

Angels turning in mid air, while forcing death to reach beyond itself. All the while the human in between is balancing the line of near-impossibility. Boligán always turns his figures away from our point of view, underlining the scale of the subject even when the picture plane is right before us.

The battle of life so that our loved ones may recover from devastating illness, and yet it may turn out not to suffice. Our human form is forced inside out when the unimaginable becomes reality. Ripped out and obstructed from action by those very heartstrings with which we yearn to remain connected.

Instead we remain tied to the pole …

The First Subject

Note the pawn to the right of the chessboard. The lowliest of items in value as in form imaginable.

The pawn is the one, which is first eliminated during a game of chess and consequently of least interest, when it comes to deciding its shape.

That very point has made the pawn an object of aesthetic curiosity to Riber Hansson. Over the years he has returned to the strangeness of that non-existent existence. He has carved it in the solidity of wood and the blurred outlines of the etching. But first and last his ponderings have been made with a pen in hand.

The other pieces on the chessboard each has a suggestive name, which has decided its shape: the knight, the tower, the king. The pawn is denominated as the one without a face. It is the nonfigurative one.

The pawn does have a rounded top suggestive of a head, as an attempt at a giving it life. The top is resting on a heavy two-layered bottom to give it some height and grounding. Let us return to the first pawn above. Each layer opens …

"Out to listen"

Two giants of cartooning, Jonathan Shapiro alias Zapiro and Riber Hansson.

Two cartoonists ever curious, open-minded and intellectuals of the world.

This is crucial in that their art is reflective of what they embody. Their ever curious and critical disposition, their listening in on the world, define how they tune their art.

Riber Hansson has reflected on the element of a moral obligation to their working process. That with freedom of speech comes the responsibility to take in before speaking. With freedom of speech there is potentially many levels of information at hand to be evaluated critically and hence it is not just our duty to speak, but to speak from a basis of knowledge and observation.

This is strangely controversial right now in countries with a solid freedom of speech. Obligations of any kind are seen as way of diminishing the freedom on hand, especially as a regression back to the days when only a few were allowed to speak out. A sort of fabricated fight then takes plac…

A Marriage Proposal

Nadia Khiari proved her carat yet again today showing us how verbal violence must be met. Her reaction was instant, blowing up the logic of a verbal rapist into his own face, undressing the issue of what it is all about: Rape is violence, full stop. 
Visualized in three confrontational, baton-armed, salivating cats of which the middle one is of a considerable solidity:
"A TV "moderator" told a child victim of rape to marry her rapist. Mr. "Moderator", I have a couple of friends, who would love to marry you. This minute".

"Let us make us slaves of truth"

- as Dr. Denis Mukwege declared; the outstanding surgeon specializing in treating women, who has been gang raped by militia groups in DR Congo. Dr. Mukwege is at once a scientist, a diplomat and an activist speaking up against sexual violence in conflict, for which he received the Sakharov Prize in 2014.

Dr. Mukwege was a keynote speaker at the Peace Conference 2016 organized by The Yennenga Progress, this year celebrating the 250th anniversary of free speech in Sweden.

Speaking in active verbs, Dr. Mukwege underlined the need for change. Rape undermines the entire social structure, when families are deliberately torn apart. To which he paraphrased the Gospel according to John:

"Know the truth and the truth will set us free. Free from war. Free from rape. And the list is endless. Let us make us slaves of truth, then we shall be free."

The truth. A fundamental notion of cartooning too as defined by the Danish satirical magazine Corsarenwhen attacked in 1842:
Corsaren never en…
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