Tuesday, 18 September 2018

Those Diabolical Caricatures


In this case not the ones on paper or the screen. The protesters against the regime in Nicaragua are caricatures of human life, according to Rosario Murillo, Vice-President and thus co-aggressor against those same protesters.

Between 322 and 481 are dead. Those numbers are already a week old. Add to this the thousands of wounded, not to mention the detained being tortured.

So the physical violence is backed by her verbal violence useful for creating a case for striking back at the protesters. They have been called every catchphrase within the domain of evildoers and nothings, such as vampires and menials. She then flung out cat skinners, as in persons of no significance socially and economically, having to eat cats to stay alive.

Pedro X. Molina drew her as a skinned cat:


Pedro X. Molina, "Skinned Cats!" September 11, 2018.


There may or may not have been a correlation, but the timeline makes it likely that it was in direct response to the cartoon above that she declared the population for caricatures.

If so, she was revealing herself that she had seen the cartoon above and that it hurt. It struck right as it was intended.

Pedro X. Molina, The Madness of the Empress, September 17, 2018.
"Caricature! You are all a caricature!!"
Her response was to forget her claim of being a poet and just throw caricature back out there in the No you are more! when children lack words.

Again she was drawn. This time she was a classical caricature, where the first one was an allegory on the political situation.

Each time in a 1:1 exposure to the beholder, facing us directly. Pedro X. Molina is working in a literal sense, giving her the shape and form of her own words.

This is how the noise screen of the responsible looks in visual form.

To paraphrase Molina, who said it so precisely himself: a caricature exaggerates a reality to make it more obvious. In the case of the protesters, it is their loyalty to their country and on the side of the oppressors their lunacy.

He exaggerated and he was SEEN.


The cartoons shown are courtesy of Pedro X. Molina and must not be reproduced without his permission.


Rebels Needed


Serena Williams lost the finale of the US Open to Naomi Osaka a week ago. Since then we have had a number of cartoons showing her throwing a tantrum with the Mark Knight-one getting most of the attention.

We know the drill. It gets the pink skinned righters out of the woodwork shouting WHAT I AM DRAWING IS MY RIIIIIIIGHT!!!!!

It is.

Having the right to is not synonymous with cartooning worth its name, nor should it be for that matter. Let us instead turn to the matter of drawing the tantrum in that it involved three thick prejudices:

1. Women are hysterical
2. Women are hysterical and consequently not professional
3. African-American women are hysterical and consequently not professional


Cintia Bolio, Alice Rebelling, 2016.
Thick prejudice involves no thinking. The cartoonist just needs to scratch himself and they crawl out. Did he even draw her before and if not, did he wait until she fit into his image of the world? What was it to the story that made it worth drawing in the first place? Was this the vital angle to the story?

The real question in this situation was: Why was it painful to see the reaction of Serena Williams on the day?

It was her words drawing in implications, where they had no being.

Serena Williams happens to have an instrument in both areas of her life's work with the same outline. She has been a rebel on behalf of women and girls in sport as in life proving that change is possible. She has been breaking new ground, holding it high while batting right back at those opposing her work. She is inspiration and direct action in one for the new generations.

She will continue to be important with so much more to do and we know she will.

Khalid Albaih placed a cartoon on the social media intended for an upcoming publication in which she is at her highest. Her muscle tone is catching the highlight.

The difference between the actual situation and the cartoon caught that exact pain of the day.

That is drawing at her level.

She has been undaunted. She is a rebel daring to think anew, just as Alice in Wonderland steps right into that strange structure that is life to question every corner of it.


Khalid Wad Albai, September 11, 2018.


Representation is important, as Khalid affirmed.

Representation for the young to take inspiration from just as it is important in cartooning. What do you want from making your cartoon?


The cartoons shown are courtesy of Cintia Bolio and Khalid Albaih and must not be reproduced without their permission.



Sunday, 9 September 2018

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.



Monday, 9 July 2018

The Unfakable



Khalid Albaih at the graffiti wall of the exhibition, the cartoons dirtied up
as they would be outside. With Jens Nüchel Petersen, July 5, 2018.
Photo: Niels Larsen.


"We Were Perfect", view from the exhibition at
the Library at Kulturværftet in Elsinore.
Photo: LCL.
Even before we opened Khalid Albaih's exhibition We Were Perfect at the Library at Kulturværftet in Elsinore (Helsingør), the exhibition had its first visitor.

A young refugee from the Syrian regime, his wide-eyed reaction, when being told that the artist was present before him was the best moment of the evening. His eyes told the story of the presence of Khalid's work too since 2011.

Running through one room of the exhibition is a "graffiti wall" a giant paper wall with dirtied up prints as they would have been seen stenciled on walls in Tahrir Square, Cairo and in Beirut. They were likewise brought on to the streets when demonstrating against regimes, or against the handling of refugees in Australia, and first and foremost they have gone viral on smart-screens in the Arab world as in the West.

The original of the cartoon is at any given instance the publicized one. In this case its publication took place in all of its formats, size and materials. We may speak of a first apparition on the screens, but the constitutive properties are not ephemeral, nor are they transitory. On the contrary, in each of their configurations, his works are fully there as he intended.


"We Were Perfect", view from the exhibition at the Library at Kulturværftet
in Elsinore. Photo: LCL.

"We Were Perfect", view from the exhibition at
the Library at Kulturværftet in Elsinore.
Photo: LCL.
The word is authoritative.

The artworks of Khalid are as clear-cut in form as they are in meaning. A luminous background onto which is a clear-cut graphic element. Simple, yet detailed. They address the specific in laying out a situation, while insisting on the intellectual curiosity of their beholders to think for themselves in everything they hear and do.
"We Were Perfect", view from the exhibition at
the Library at Kulturværftet in Elsinore.
Photo: LCL.

Khalid's objective was understood given it was taken to the streets in the call for change from the noise of despots doing their damnedest to undermine every instance of calm to think.

"Fake" has been a despotic buzzword these years in their adoption of what Orwell termed doublethink, to reach the point were nothing is - well, where nothingness reigns. Contrary to this we have the unfakable of the realm of art, as termed by the philosopher of aesthetics, Nelson Goodman.

Goodman would not have approved of the authoritative manifold of the unique, but then he wrote before there was such a thing as an image being printed on equally excellent appliances across the globe.

Our first visitor came back moments later with his best friend, who originates from Ethiopia. Two friends from two continents accentuating a body of work, which in turn is the embodiment of the poet Maya Angelou:

I go forth alone, and stand as ten thousand.


The local graffiti wall by the library at Kulturværftet,
so of course there is an invitation to find inspiration inside.
Photo: LCL.


The Exhibition We Were Perfect at the Library of Kulturværftet, Elsinore/Helsingør. It opened last Thursday and runs until September 27, 2018.


Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Monument of Shame




Bonil, Trees of Death, by Rosario Murillo and Daniel Ortega,
July 4, 2018.



It is a monument of the atrocities taking place in Nicaragua. Constructions of steel around Managua, designed by Rosario Murillo, wife of president Daniel Ortega. As trees go, these produce no oxygen and can as such be no symbol of life.

Each of the killed embodies the Nicaraguan flag. The full story is before us.



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






The Moral Case of Cartoonist vs. President


Did I just read that? Surely I read wrong?

Correa, the former president of Ecuador has a warrant of arrest on his head.


Bonil, July 4, 2018:
- Walking alert (a leftist cry on a victorious Bolívar through Latin America)
- of Bolívar's sword?
- No, the red alert of Interpol


Interpol has been alerted to have him extradited from Belgium. Belgium is apparently the new haven for political leaders on the run. The Catalan separatist leader escaped extradition from Belgium too only little over a month ago.

Responsibility is but a word of fashion, according to Correa. Now it is there, now it is not.

Correa has done anything in his power, rallying week after week, using every means of his presidential power to undermine the freedom held in the constitution against Bonil and his colleagues. Bonil was singled out time after time in court as in the rallies mentioned, hearing his person and cartoons harassed in a tone, which might have been a suggestion of... violence? Surely verbal violence, which might have escalated even further. Bonil was denied his personal and citizen rights on every level and for every bit of that burdensome and dangerous road, Correa is responsible. Responsible in the present tense.

Correa the Escapist. We know already that he will do anything to avoid facing his own deeds. His life is as cushioned as Bonil's is not. Bonil has been called to answer for his cartoons and he answered. Being answerable is the very definition of acting responsibly.

Of every word with which we characterize Bonil, Correa is his opposite. Bonil has spine, showing courage and using his sharp intellect. He analyses the world with love and humor, creating understanding one cartoon at a time to make this world a better place.

Correa is a whimpering blob of vanity.

The words above have been all about Bonil and that is how it should be.

- Oh, and by the way: It is the Fourth of July in the US. Belgium may be seeing Trump hopefully sooner than later. Sorry, Belgium!



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



Sunday, 1 July 2018

How To Lose The Moral Right to Govern



Pedro X. Molina, June 2018.
The national outcry:
HELP ME!!!

HEAR US! Every cartoon from Pedro X. Molina right now is meant to hurt our eardrums. The volume turned to maximum is everything cartooning, or art for that matter, is not supposed to be and for that very reason the message is all the stronger.

To sum up the Nicaraguans plight, president Daniel Ortega has responded with violence against demonstrations protesting his politics. According to the Nicaraguan Association for Human Rights at least 285 are dead and 1500 injured. By June 25.


Pedro X. Molina, June 2018.
Hors d'oeuvre...
- My men have orders not to shoot!

The salivating Ortega has been turned into not just any beast, but one prepared to clamp down on critique against him. The bullet bars for teeth speak of preparation. In other words, Ortega embodies the problem; he is the problem.

He is as much a roaring noise as his moral counterpoint above, the pietà of desperation. The profound inner sorrow is wrought out to a collective outcry of desperation, desperate too to be heard. In the confrontation of sound, we have their respective stations.


Pedro X. Molina, October 9, 2015.
Please note the date and year: 2015.
- If you think...
- That this is "violence"...
- ... and this is "peace"...
- Then you are simply not thinking.


Pedro X. Molina, June 2018.
The section of the Constitution in which it is stated
that armed paramilitaries are unconstitutional.
Pedro X. Molina already was a cartoonist speaking in direct terms. Direct as in laying out object-by-object, never details, but each element alongside the next element to let it be known what is taking place.

We are in court in his cartoons and the prosecution is laying out the evidence, all of which is adding up. The Constitution and the soiling of it is a central exhibit to the case.

He is calling for judgment before us: This is not a war. This is a massacre by an armed state that kills its unarmed citizens, in his own words. He draws the moral verdict written in the citizens' own blood to NOT commit a revenge murder of Ortega and wife, but to their being removed from power, since they refuse to do themselves:


Pedro X. Molina, June 2018.
OUT WITH THEM




Pedro X. Molina asks of you all to distribute his cartoons as widely as possible to let the situation of Nicaraguans be known.


Friday, 29 June 2018

Terrorteguism


Ter-ror-te-guism (org. terrorteguismo, 2018) noun, the alliance of terror and the president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega 1. The present political situation in Nicaragua, where citizens, children included, are being shot and killed 2. The arming of militant groups acting as snipers, carrying out random killings of citizens 3. Impunity for everyone ordering or acting with violence against the citizens 4. The danger of all of the aforementioned to the Nicaraguans going forward. 



Pedro X. Molina, June 2018.


As exemplified by Pedro X. Molina, hope is troubled going forward. The tree of life is no longer a living one, but one made in a metal design by Ortega's wife. The death caravans with their masked men embody the old tales of the carretas nahuatl, the rumbling ghostly carts in the street at night, which everyone must take care never to see. Anyone who dares to sneak a glimpse will be gone in the morning. 

We recognize the ghostly cart from recent embodiments as well as of old. This carreta nahuatl has Ortega for driver. As random as the terror is once weapons are in the wrong hands, the carreta has a first beginning.


Pedro X. Molina asks of you all to distribute his cartoons as widely as possible to let the situation of Nicaraguans be known.



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