What Can I Do?


- What can I do to make this world a better place? What can we do to help?

Three students came up to Khalid Albaih after his artist talk at his exhibition at Kulturværftet in Helsingør.

The day after Khalid was speaking at RUC, Roskilde University, upon which he received a message from one of the students naming it an "eye opening talk":

"It really touched me. It has certainly inspired me to try and make a difference in the world for people who have it much harder than myself, in instances that you demonstrated today"

And the message went on to specify:

"I must admit that I am guilty of dehumanising the experience of refugees, not consciously, but just because of how it is portrayed in the media like you said today. That is definitely something that I am going to actively change". 



This is it, such is the significance of cartooning at its best.

When at its best, it has means of changing our perception of the world and doing so to one person at a time. Cartooning at its best does the opposite of seducing and silencing the masses. Each of the beholders above was engaged and inspired to act.

Through the way they described their reaction, we learn how the cartoons by Khalid made a difference: Complex matters too difficult to take in, had been transformed into a graspable cluster before them of the what, how and why of an issue. They had gained information, which they described as gaining lucidity.

In art history we discuss seeing-in and seeing-as (as in recognizing or imagining something already known). This is seeing-through. Seeing through not in the sense of the cartoon having no value of its own, but in its creating translucency into something too massive or scary/sad to focus on. It is the meeting-point for a complex matter to be reflected upon and from which can emanate action.

 That is the recipe for change and the medium was the cartoon.



Khalid Albaih, The Perfect Arab Citizen, April 5, 2011.


And Khalid's answer to the young?

- Be present in your life. Do what you can in what is right before you.

As his equally fearless colleague Doaa Eladl answered at a conference earlier this year: You focus on the elephant. That is an excuse for doing nothing. Focus on each step at a time.



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