Sunday, 29 September 2013

The Creation of a Now

"Cities (...) believe they are the work of the mind or of chance, but neither the one nor the other suffices to hold up their walls, You take delight not in a city's seven or seventy wonders, but in the answer it gives to a question of yours
Or the question it asks you, forcing you to answer"

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

The Black Duck

From what I remember about ducks in classic iconography back at uni, ducks appear in pairs as a symbol of life-long love and thus faithfulness. With faithfulness or fidelity in play we are within the terminology of power, which has rather fittingly been given the personification of a certain duck lately.

In Danish cartooning ducks have their own storyline of peaceful beings not quite adapted to modern times, as drawn by Jørn Villumsen. He constantly puts mother duck and her ducklings into new shocking situations and we eagerly follow what is happening to them every day in the paper Politiken.

As it turns out, even Jørn Villumsen's drawings of al-Assad fits very much into his main storyline. The mail accounts of the Assad-couple were hacked in February last year, revealing that her nickname for her husband was duck. From then on his symbol was a given, as drawn from Egypt by Doaa Eladl:

Doaa Eladl, Black Duck, February 1, 2013.

Sunday, 22 September 2013

"The Walls Got Their Freedom Before We Did!"

Tarek Alghorani was imprisoned in 2005 in Syria for blogging and was released right before the protests began. He became an important voice in organizing imagery as a means of protest. He is now in Tunisia where he has worked for the Centre de Tunis pour la Liberté de la Presse. He is no less an important analytic voice on street art all over the Middle East and the words below are his, first published at Istituto Euromediterraneo del Nord Ovest:

Graffiti: "We wish to detain" in the meaning of "We want prisoners"

Saturday, 21 September 2013

"Walls have ears"

A few corners from me you will find what was once the butchers' central market in Copenhagen from where meat was distributed all over town. Today art galleries have edged themselves into many parts of this stark white enclave of buildings erected 1931-34. A stark hygienic white with lines so sharp it almost hurts.

Thus the perfect place for the imagery of the humiliation and butchering of man as given us by a graffiti artist around 2009. Possibly an Iranian, judging from the woman's scarf, as suggested by the Syrian Tarek Alghorani.

Tarek was a writer, blogger, imprisoned 2005-11 by the Assad-regime and he is now in Tunisia, encouraging the use of graffiti as an activist art form and documenting the voice of the street. His own voice has the poetic precision of the artist, and below are fragments of our discussions of walls - the very symbol of the power that had them built and how they were consequently the first to be conquered. They had to be conquered.

The drawings below can be found at Høkerboderne. They are meticulously laid out in coal, breaking the white of the wall and by now silently fading into them. The words are Tarek's own:

Sunday, 15 September 2013

Kontraster savnes og haves



Den fredfyldte salafist har haft en travl uge. Han blev forbudt endnu en gang på Facebook - han blev også slettet på min væg - og denne gang fik hans tegner, Kianoush Ramezani, desuden karantæne i 12 timer.

The Serene Salafist has had a busy week. He was deleted once again from Facebook - he was also deleted from my wall - and this time his cartoonist, Kianoush Ramezani, was banned for 12 hours.

Kianoush Ramezani, Salafist Harmony, 5. april 2012.

Wednesday, 11 September 2013

An Eye on Every Finger

The Danish cartoonist, Ivar Gjørup, has done the impossible and written a libretto for 1/2leluja, a comics opera - the world's first? - on his comic strip, Egoland, which ran in the daily paper, Politiken, for 25 years. I for one grew up learning to see the world from the angle of Divus Madsen, examined God.

Below are the first two paragraphs of an article, which dates from 1995 and can be read in Danish here. It might very well have been written today. So without further ado:

By Ivar Gjørup 
An Eye on Every Finger

The second of the Ten Commandments in the Bible is a ban on cartoons.

Apart from a period in the 1950's it has never been taken seriously. Jesus never mentions it, and the Church Fathers skipped it. It was obviously too uncontrollable.

The second of the Ten Commandments says that "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image" of anything that is in heaven and on earth, nor underwater for that matter. We prefer to understand it in its limited meaning: Do not create idols, but creating comics is fine.

It is a convenient interpretation, but it is not correct. Muslims grasped the full meaning of the ban when it was their turn to spread the true faith: Do not make pictures of the Creation, God does not want it, it is He who has the copyright.

Ivar Gjørup, Egoland, May 24, 2006, 1+2
Dept. 6 (i.e. for the mentally ill) 
Holy Scriptures
Outerwear, bags and possible common sense must be deposited in the cloakroom

Here we spend many years studying 1000 difficult books...

and teach ourselves old languages with the most 
outrageous grammar to be able to guide the faithful...

Any image is idolatry; Donald Duck is a threat to the order of the world. It says so in the Exodus. But the Christian world love images and has loved them long before it was christened. So we tiptoed around the Second Commandment.

Ivar Gjørup, Egoland, May 24, 2006, 3+4
...and then the freshman walks right in
 and discovers THE TRUTH...
It's right here! a COMIC
That's right!

In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and God was so important that His name should not even be spelled. The Old Testament refers to Him, in code in a spy movie, "You know who", "The Lord", "J-H-v" and "Eat this note, after having read its contents!"

It goes without saying that such a Gentleman cannot allow images. "No photographs, please!"

Imagine if information about the Creation fell into the wrong hands. Into the hands of children, for instance. Or the young at heart!


But the cartoonist is a secret agent. Disguised as a human he prowls around in the Creation, in the service of a foreign power. The power of Imagination. He sends images in a steady flow to his employers; with devilish dexterity he avoids detection and capture, always one step ahead of reality.

His images provide a wealth of vital information. With trembling hands his employers open each new batch and they see!

They see a white duck dressed as a sailor. They see a dog napping on the roof of his doghouse. They see a six-year old boy on a flying carpet with a striped tiger. Incredible revelations of the life we ​​live.

The secret agents from a world we didn't even know existed have grasped it all. We see a blue clad bodybuilder with a flowing red cape; he is about to drill himself through the globe. A man in Tarzan–trunks breaks the back of a lion. Several men and women with half masks, some of them with wide-brimmed hats. A young man with girly hair and medieval sword at his side, and the red head of a horse on his chest. People in strange diving suits among the stars. Women who have put themselves in an unfortunate situation and have been rescued by strong men from a certain death (or that which is a whole lot worse!). Always at the very last moment.

The Creation is leaking. The secrets are spilled. The heroic cartoonists are working in extremely difficult conditions. Still, the images they send us are of an amazingly high quality. Detailed, crisp, rich!

Ivar Gjørup, Egoland, September 25, 2006, 1+2
THE LINE: Can it be true? The true lovers of the paper...
- are the cartoonists? The clarinet tone of the pen stroke, 
the hubris of the course of the line - 

There is information in this material, which no one would believe if it were not before us in black and white. A mouse is throwing a brick at a cat. A small French man with wings on the helmet trashes a Roman legion. A large warehouse is spilling over with money from the floor to the ceiling, an unlikely wealth of coins and bills; the multi-millionaire is bathing in them wearing glasses and gaiters. Can this be true?

Ivar Gjørup, Egoland, September 25, 2006, 3+4
 – the paper is groaning under the sketching of the pen: 

A silent orgasmic scream of ... 

...RELEASE – The wonder of creation every new day! 

Do not switch it off!

These are the secrets the cartoonists reveal to us. They walk around in the world carrying their inner spy camera. Even the trained observer is amazed at what the cartoonists can show us. God is lamenting. There are things that He would after all prefer to keep to Himself.

The craft of spying enjoys no great reputation. The men and women who are by the thousands working in pencil, ink and felt-tip pen, colours and brushes are largely unknown.

Some have stepped forward and have been noticed by a wider public, others have preferred to work under an alias. Cartoonists are often soloists; spies like to operate in incognito.

The profession is teeming with double identities.

Without the comics artists we would be ignorant of the fact that certain gunmen always hit what they aim at. We would be but scantily informed that women have advantages and disadvantages also in the physical sense. That there are men who are so good that they hoist themselves down from tall buildings to distribute uppercuts to unshaven thugs.

Or that our pets are thinking. And what they think!

Thank you, Ivar for your words and drawings! We have covered the magnificent world of Ivar and Divus quite a number of times. Divus and Darwin, ahem Darvin, for instance (still in Danish only, sorry!)

Wednesday, 4 September 2013

"For no good reason"


Ralph Steadmans atelier har en overflade som hans tegninger. Blækklatter i rundhåndet fordeling, som set i nærblik i et interview lavet af The Economist, rundsendt af The Daily Cartoonist:

The studio of Ralph Steadman has the same surface as his drawings. Ink blots distributed lavishly, as seen up close in an interview made ​​by The Economist, circulated to us all by The Daily Cartoonist:

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

En salafist i harmoni med sig selv



Vi har mødt ham et par gange her på bloggen, men han er værd at se igen. Især fordi salafisterne ikke er så glade for ham. De har senest klaget til Facebook, som straks adskilte ham fra sin tegner og slettede ham.

Hermed antitesen til det vrede skæg. Lidt usikkert, let skeløjet i sit udblik på verden og derfor en stilhed, som vi ikke skal ødelægge med flere ord:

We have met him a couple of times on this blog, but he is worth seeing again. Especially since Salafists are not quite happy about him. They complained to Facebook, which immediately separated him from his cartoonist and deleted him.

May we present the antithesis of The Angry Beard. A little insecure, slightly cross-eyed in his view on the world and thus a silence that we will not destroy with any more words:

Monday, 2 September 2013

I arven efter Farao Akhenatons datter


English translation in italics:

Doaa Eladl, 25. august 2013.

Ovenstående tegning er en af Doaa Eladls seneste. Hendes hjemmebane er Egypten, men der er næppe mange kvinder verden over, som ikke genkender fornemmelsen af grotesk synlighed, der betyder udsathed og at være sat i en position, der kræver konstant vagtsomhed.

Som vi skal se, sætter Doaa Eladl fokus på problemstillinger, der rammer kvinder, men som vi også skal se, er det ikke det kvindelige element heri, som interesserer hende. Uanset emnet er hun politisk tegner og nagler vores normer, især når dobbeltmoralen får lov at trives i dem:

The above drawing is one of the latest by Doaa Eladl. She is in Egypt, but most women around the world recognize only too well the feeling of grotesque visibility, which implies vulnerability and being put in a position that requires constant vigilance.

As we shall see, Doaa Eladl focuses on issues that affect women, but as we shall also see, it is not primarily the female aspect of this that interests her. Whatever the subject, she is a political cartoonist who focuses on our norms, especially when double standards are allowed to thrive within them:

Doaa Eladl, 24. august 2013.

Det arabiske forår har alle steder været kendetegnet ved synlighed, ikke kun indbyrdes tegn, men billeder og direkte kunst. Doaa Eladl var blandt de tegnere, som delte deres tegninger ud på Tahrir Pladsen, som indtil da ikke havde kunnet trykkes. Samme sted, den 25. december 2012, skar 8 kvinder deres hår af:

The Arab Spring has everywhere been characterized by its visual presence, not only using signs that are recognized among the protesters, but imagery and even art have been integrated from the onset. Doaa Eladl was among the artists who shared their drawings, which until then could not be published with the protesters in Tahrir Square. The very same place where at December 25 2012 eight women cut off their hair:

Doaa Eladl, I arven efter Farao Akhenatons datter, 
klippede egyptiske kvinder på Tahrir Pladsen deres hår i protest mod forfatningen, 
26. december 2012.

Klipningen blev erklæret for en befrielseshandling i protest over fjernelsen af den artikel 33 i udkastet til den ny forfatning, der angik alles lighed for loven. Dermed var kvinder eksempelvis afskåret fra at blive præsident, for nu at sætte forskellen i kortform. Akhenaton-forbindelsen understregede desuden sammenhængen med præsteskabet, fordi hans datters reaktion skal have været vendt mod dem.

De Skæggede har - som vi før har set - gjort hår til kampplads for retten til at tale og dermed til magten. Kvinderne på Tahrir Pladsen satte strips over munden, som de først fjernede, da håret var skåret af: "Det er ikke håret, som kroner vi kvinder, der gør vores frihed". Bemærk, at denne tegning er fra 14 dage før kvindernes offentlige markering:

The action took place as a protest against the removal of the Article 33 of the draft of the new Constitution, which concerned everyone's equality before the law. Women were thus barred from becoming president, to put the difference in short. The Akhenaton connection furthermore emphasized the relationship with the clergy because his daughter's reaction was said to have been directed against them.

The Bearded - as we have seen before – has made ​​hair a battleground on the right to speak and thus of power. The women in Tahrir Square put strips over their mouths, which they did not remove till their hair had been cut off: "It's not the hair that crowns us women which makes us free." It is worth noting that this drawing is from a fortnight before the women's public demonstration:

Doaa Eladl, 8. december 2012.

Doaa Eladl kunne gå direkte til The New Yorker, hvis hun ellers ønskede det. Hun har den klassiske centraleuropæiske streg, som vi kender fra eksempelvis Jean-Jacques Sempé, blidt bølgende, næsten æterisk. Men hvor forgængerne går den indirekte vej og skaber effekt ved at vise det positive, sætter Doaa Eladl sit persongalleri stævne som modsætningspar. Den, som kræver, og den, som rammes af kravet.

Hendes fokus er aldrig offeret. Hendes interesse er den anden parts handlinger, så de ikke kan dække sig ind. Det gælder også kvindelig omskæring, som hun formår at fremstille uden ord. Undermåleren, der destruerer storheden i livet - livet selv - som han ikke forstår, fordi han vil forme verden, som han selv har tolket den:

Doaa Eladl could be a star cartoonist at the The New Yorker, if she so wanted. She draws in the classical tradition of central Europe, as we know it from Jean-Jacques Sempé, with a line gently undulating, almost ethereal. However, where her predecessors would be going the indirect route and show only the positive side, Doaa Eladl creates a meeting of opposites. There is the one who make demands and the other who are affected by the demand.

Her focus is not on the victim. Her interest is the other party's actions so that they can no longer hide themselves. This also applies to female circumcision, which she shows us without the use of words. A smallish person who destroys what is great in life - life itself - which he refuses to understand because he demands the world to take shape according to his own interpretation:

Doaa Eladl, 24. februar 2013.

Doaa Eladls tegninger markerer noget meget fundamentalt, som vi har tendens til at glemme, at denne type vold ikke primært er vold mod kvinder. "Vold mod..." er en formulering, der hensætter volden til et særligt forklaringshjørne. Det er vold, eller det er overgreb. Med punktum efter.

Doaa Eladl's drawings mark something very fundamental in that we tend to forget in that this type of violence is not primarily violence against women. "Violence against ..." is a wording that creates special corners in which to put such cases. But this is violence. Full stop.

27. november 2012

Selvgodheden anklagede omgående Doaa Eladl for blasfemi, som i øvrigt den første tegner i Egypten, dagen efter offentliggørelsen af nedenstående tegning. En af deres egne, nu med vinger, erklærede foran Adam og Eva, at de aldrig ville have været smidt ud fra Paradisets Have, hvis de blot havde stemt ja til udkastet til forfatningen. Samme udkast som fjernede artiklen om ligeværdighed. 

Selv fremhævede hun, at tegningen var og blev politisk, ikke religiøs. Den handler om den utrolige tro på at have ret til at definere verden for andre. Den omgående blasfemianklage mod hende beviste til fulde tingenes tilstand.

The Self-Righteous immediately accused Doaa Eladl of blasphemy, which, incidentally, she was the very first to be accused of in Egypt. Their reaction came the very day after the publication of the drawing below. One of their own, now clad in wings, declares in front of Adam and Eve that they would never have been expelled from Eden had they voted in favor of the draft of the Constitution. The very same draft, which removed the article on equality.

Doaa Eladl has emphasized that the drawing was political, not religious. It's about the astonishing fact that some take it as a right upon themselves to define the world for others. The immediate blasphemy charges laid against her proved to the full the state of affairs.

Doaa Eladl, 20. december 2012.

Anklagen mod hende bortfaldt automatisk den dag, Broderskabet blev frataget magten. Uanset den politiske situation, var hendes facebook-side derfor travl med lykønskninger. De Skæggede kunne ikke længere beslutte hvem, som måtte eller ikke måtte:

The charge laid against her automatically lapsed on the day of the removal of the Brotherhood from power. Regardless of the political situation, her Facebook-wall was busy with congratulations. The Bearded could no longer decide who was in the right and who was not: 

Doaa Eladl, 9. december 2012.

Stor tak til Doaa Eladl for tilladelse til at vise hendes kunst. Det siges, at der er en vis billedtørhed, siden militæret satte Broderskabet fra magten. Mindre grafitti, eksempelvis, fordi det er blevet sværere at udtrykke sig uden at komme til tage parti for enten militæret eller Broderskabet.

Doaa Eladls pegefinger er netop nu rettet mod Broderskabets vold, for de skal ikke have chancen for at erklære sig for offer. Hun har med andre ord travlt med at gøre et regnskab op, så der er rent bord til næste kapitel. Revolutioner er lange, seje træk, som hun selv understreger. 80 år tog det i Frankrig?

A very special thank you to Doaa Eladl for her permission to display her art. It is said that imagery has dried put since the military removed the Brotherhood from power. Less graffiti for instance in that it has become harder to express oneself without siding with either the military or the Brotherhood.

But Doaa Eladl is busy. She is currently targeting the violence of the Brotherhood, so they shall not get the chance to proclaim themselvesthe victims. She is in other words doing a clean sweep making ready for the next chapter. Revolutions take time, as she emphasizes. 80 years was it in France?

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