Thursday, 22 December 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 image moves with us in the room transposing or transforming the bodies therein.

Apart from the one notable exception of the exposed women - exposed but without the right to express themselves - the body is every time the male. A human form, which is not allowed to show emotion according to our cultural mores, whereas the female body already has its victimization. The effect is thus all the greater before us. 

Winsor McCay, When Black Death Rode, 1919?
The outlined body is historically linked to mass man at the opening of the 20th century. The stark white emptiness within every human form present in the dense drawings by Winsor McCay is just as terrifying in Sulafa Hijazi's work. Both artists manifest a danger against humanity by way of keeping intact the human form - the outline - while exposing the lack of anything within; the impact of which is all the stronger by being reflected in large numbers.

The stark emptiness is all the more striking to our eyes when seeing the suffering taking place. Wiping off someone's identity is a violent act. Yet, we watch just as we see the pattern forming from repeating the same tiny format image within each frame, bringing to mind the texturing, with which Sulafa has always been working. They have blossomed into their own tale, or rather exactly not, as it happens.

We crave images. 

We crave images to a degree that we make their subject matter extinct. Directly so in the sense that they lose their distinctive meaning while transforming into decorative patterns before us. But these were photos of war machinery found on the Internet, documentary material in which their drivers showed them off for their structural beauty, dedicating themselves to their care. We are willingly seduced, ignoring all context.

Winsor McCay, His Best Customer, 1917.

This is all created by us. We are the ones, who set the violence into motion when we walk by - the dangling from the noose and wiping off the face. Just as we set off the embrace of our new collective identity: Our grandfather as it is in the very first pixeled body. 

All the while there is a necessity to our digital existence. The Syrian diaspora needs social media to stay in contact and keep finding a reason for living. The most layered of the prints is of smartphones upon smartphones of which the repeated image is of Sulafa herself.

The critical self-reflecting art. Muhamad spoke of its necessity, prompted by Sulafa's very artworks there at the very center of the floor of her exhibition. This is the living example of the dignity for which the Syrians have been aspiring. And the grandest thing of all is that it is an aspiration for dignity they have been setting forward on behalf of us all.

The artworks shown are courtesy of Sulafa Hijazi and must not be reproduced without her permission. All photos were taken by Sulafa.

Sunday, 18 December 2016

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.

Riber Hansson, Assad and Putin; The Death Company, December 17, 2016.

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

Tuesday, 13 December 2016

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.

Juan Zero, 2012.

Ali Ferzat.
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.

Juan Zero, 2011.

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 courage to stand up against the former in 2011.

Ali Ferzat.
The weakling, however, understanding nothing, reacted with sheer violence; his warrior friends stepping in for him.

He can pretend to stand tall, but the Syria of his rule has turned into the black market of the world, as a friend of the artist Sulafa Hijazi says. Syria has become everybody's dirty game.

Ali Ferzat drew the cartoon below in the first months of the revolution. It is now time for Death to bow to the applause.

Dignity. The goal of the Syrian revolution was dignity.

Ali Ferzat, 2011.

The cartoons shown are courtesy by Ali Ferzat and Juan Zero.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

"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:

Zunar: the IGP (Chief of Police) told me to draw Donald Duck, December 5, 2016.

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 you. If a group of cartoonists decides to draw a cartoon on the Penang chief minister, with a ‘hidung senget’ (crooked nose), among other insulting things, would he (CM) allow me to stay quiet? No!"

Nor can we be quiet and let us be clear: Drawing a public person is not an "insult". That is baby talk. A cartoon is about the actions of said person. Noses of any kind are details to the whole, and focusing on the details by those, who do not wish their actions to be seen, are just a means of detracting attention from the issue being addressed.

Zunar is rigorous and clear-cut in addressing the actions of the Malaysian prime minister and his entourage.

Give them another nose and they are still amassing money away from those who need it the most. By focusing on noses, the Inspector-General only made the real issue all the more obvious.

All the while, the situation of Zunar is a serious worry and with him anyone, who discusses the society of which they are all part.

Every time action is taken against Zunar, the question is what may happen next. He is brave, acknowledging his personal fear, but feels morally bound to continue, as he answers when we ask him. He may face prison, he has just been detained by the police, a gang raided his exhibition, which gave the police the excuse to step in - we fear the stepping up of the aggression against his person.

 As always as ruled by Zunar his cartoons must be spread as much and as widely as possible.

Saturday, 3 December 2016

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 Plato's Socrates... Before we enter into a linguistic battle on Socrates in the plural, let Plato be our plead to Ivar.

Ivar Gjørup has just published a magnum opus on Plato, which will be an instant bestseller the day it is translated into English. May the day come soon. May in turn Ivar's next project - one of them! - be a drawn opus on Plato.

Plato wrote in images and it is high time he shall be dialoguing in and on imagery with an heir to The Truth, i.e. a cartoonist. May Ivar's interpretation below on Plato's Allegory of the Cave be but the hors d'oeuvre


The cartoon/comics shown is courtesy of Ivar Gjørup and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Monday, 28 November 2016

"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.

Zunar exhibiting in a square in Malmö last December,
A venue not unlike the one, which was closed down
Photo from AmnestySweden's Instagram.
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.

And then there is the Rakyat, the people.

Only fragments of the hints are possible for us to grasp, but the tale is unmistakable and the beauty of Zunar's cartoons are beyond question. The greed of the protagonists is undressed in all its ugly nakedness before us and yet the more ridiculous the more alarming they prove to be. The mountainous double shadow of a judge or my favorite, the mosquito pretending to rub the back of the people, while filling its own belly.

Every cartoon is an economical transaction, the protagonists' preferred kind of dialogue. Zunar constantly plays on words with a special eye for twisting a letter or meaning across languages, such as the man of steal above.

But now it is time for me to keep quiet:

Saturday, 26 November 2016

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.

Doaa Eladl, November 25, 2015.

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Doaa Eladl and must not be reproduced without her permission.

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.

Zunar, November 24, 2016.

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 unlawful fortune at hand.

Note in particular the police officer. He is the one, who carried out the detention of the cartoonist.

ETA November 27: Zunar was released on bail two hours ago. At least and for now he is free. His trial in which he may be sentenced 43 years of imprisonment is set to January 24.

 As always as ruled by Zunar his cartoons must be spread as much and as widely as possible.

Tuesday, 22 November 2016

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 embellished to disguise the cheapness of the transaction. We could call it a coffin.

Vasco Gargalo, The Engagement Ring, November 22, 2016.

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

Monday, 21 November 2016

The Flaying of Mankind

Xaquín Marín Formoso, Polyphemus, 2015.

Xaquín Marín Formoso, Funnel, 1976.

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 their fear and their anguish since it is our own. This is our world before us.

There is a span of nearly 40 years between the two cartoons above. The one-eyed giant - he who eats his prisoners - is from last year, while the silenced speech to the right was drawn in 1976; the year following the death of the Spanish dictator Franco and a democratic Constitution was as yet on the drawing board. The mouth has been forced open to give it the appearance of freedom. The Galicia of Xaquín Marín Formoso and with it Spain as whole know to the bone the vulnerability of democracy.

Xaquín Marín Formoso, The Dogs of Life, 1978.

The sense of transition may turn out to be the true state of mind as of society. The attempts are made to transition into a democracy and the transition in Spain did indeed prove successful. Yet, the state of alert is constant. Democracy in modern times is still a young political practice and at any time a one-eyed despot is heading an organization, while just as regularly corruption, racism and ecological calamity all join abuse of power as candidates to new structures of society. 

Xaquín Marín Formoso, Creation, date unknown.

For that very reason Xaquín Marín Formoso has returned to Neoclassicism. The  
-isms of Modernism which disrupted the visuals as we knew them to see the world anew in the years before the Spanish Civil War are too painfully connected to the politics of that time in history to be of inspiration.

So, rather than dissolving the human form, Xaquín Marín Formoso has wrung out the inner of man keeping the outer form, exposing our vulnerability to its raw state. The human form is then exposed to a visual chaos, which in fact turns out to be a visual concentration, seeing how each composition is building up to a calling out of desperation and pain, be it even a silent one coming from the throat slit by dogs. 

The double take on the artist's own hand, creator in composition as in calling out is before us too, although his personal favorite is the cartoon below. The quiet pain of a Gulliver forced to accept his situation of not fitting in. For once an idyllic world, perhaps since it is closing ranks against the newcomer outside. Drawn in 1975 and all too relevant today:

Xaquín Marín Formoso, Black, 1975.

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Xaquín Marín Formoso and must not be reproduced without his permission. 

Thursday, 10 November 2016

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?

FadiToOn, November 7, 2016.

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

Wednesday, 9 November 2016

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.

Firuz Kutal, October 25, 2016.
Bana ne? = It is not my business, it is not my problem

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 freedom of speech, even if the law forbids it; if public opinion is sluggish, inconvenient minorities will be persecuted, even if laws exist to protect them".

Looking back and 1938 and what came after, the disposition of the private citizen has been intensely discussed ever since. Did they know? In his postscript of If This Is a Man Primo Levi makes an equally clear position as Orwell: Oh yes, how could they otherwise - I am paraphrasing - the murder took place on a scale that everyone would have been linked to someone in the know or the action. Only they chose not to know. They chose ignorance. The one who knew was quiet, the one who did not know did not ask and the one who knew did not answer. They taped their mouths shut and closed their eyes. They nursed their ignorance, as Levi concluded: Considering their deliberate passivity I consider them unconditionally guilty.

As it happened the two present cartoons came about at the very same day a few weeks ago. The happy colors of lameness of Erdogan's Turkey, in which large droves of journalists, writers - cartoonists - and teachers and and... have been arrested with the remains of the public looking passively on: "It is not my problem".

From an Iranian perspective Mana Neyestani has portrayed the political prisoners with those willfully ignorant, who sanctioned the imprisonments. They make up the prison chains - drawn with a simple line of white on stark black in contrast to the textured nuances of the life they assist to kill off.

We have nothing good to expect from the US in the coming years. They have now officially joined their lookalikes in places such as Turkey and Iran. But we shall not for one minute regard them as innocent in what may take place. And we have the cartoonists to prove it.

Mana Neyestani, October 25, 2016.
"To our political prisoners, excuse us all of the recent arrests".

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Firuz Kutal and Mana Neyestani and must not be reproduced without their permission.

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.

by Magnus Bard

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

Friday, 28 October 2016

"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, Cartoonist or Terrorist, October 18, 2016.
The sign held by the inspector-general of police spells out 
the letters of the disease ZIKA thus:
"Caution! The cartoonist Zunar between nations"

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 his rights to travel as the free citizen he ought to be treated as until otherwise proven. Further attention must be called to the fact that his passport was withdrawn by the inspector-general of police and not by a court of justice.

So this is an all too known situation smelling of politics on all levels. The court case is as always just a stalling tactics to keep the cartoonist from work, while gnawing at his strength, finding new excuses for postponements around every corner. Only in this case, Zunar has acted against their expectations. He has proven to be a strong voice speaking up to have his situation known internationally.

Zunar, October 23, 2016.
Self-portrait tweeted on the same date as the cartoon below,
keeping a clear head on the specifics of the situation.

A certain 30+ carat diamond ring is supervising the inspector-general above. The ring must be part of every one of his cartoons, otherwise Zunar's spectators complain. The tiny inspector-general is in turn busily clanging handcuffs meant for tweeting cartoonists below, while one of the truly giant criminals, notably the husband of the "ring", Prime Minister Najib is personally taking care of the budget.

Najib has by now amassed an estimated 2,6 billions fortune and Zunar has visually transformed transactions and abuse of power into an intricate ornamentation of cartooning.

Note the mouth sticking its tongue out at the bottom below, not Najib's, but the tiny one in the middle.

Zunar, Mega Rob Budget, October 23, 2016.

As ruled by Zunar his cartoons must be spread as much and as widely as possible.

Monday, 24 October 2016

When No Action is Left To Us

Angel Boligán, Angels and Sculls, October 22, 2016.
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 of a firing squad.

Angel Boligán, When we can do nothing, October 23, 2016.

Un gran abrazo, Querido Boligán, con mis condolencias a toda la familia

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Angel Boligán and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Saturday, 22 October 2016

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 to another interest in its shape. The pen almost carves in to catch the concavity of the neck, or the jotted lines across to express the rounding.

There is not one way to catch it on paper. Movement for instance. A pawn is more often than not the piece, which sets the game in motion and it is the first one to meet with confrontation that will send it off the board. Riber Hansson has experimented with the notion of movement as a premise of its existence and how it affects its form. Innate movement for one in which the middle part caves in as seen above in the one to the right in the second row of sketches.

With movement we are onto the core of the drama. The pawn is a carrier of the ultimate duality. It is either black or white. It can be either, but never take on both sides. But what if it could? What if it reflected itself in its opponent? Or grew spots?

Speaking of growing, the existence of the pawn may come forth from fundamental layers of life forms. Such as art. The ones before us have come to us by way of the line. The pain, the ultimate game of life and death, all this is due to the wonder of an ink line. In the end the sketches before us are not about the pawn. It is a study on expression, on the limits of art, on human reflection. It is a study on what it is to be human.

And yet, when they are left to their own, with the knights lurking beyond in the darkness... once the pawns group together, they may begin to plot...

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Riber Hansson and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Friday, 21 October 2016

"Out to listen"

Zapiro and Riber Hansson at the Peace Conference 2016
organized by Yennenga Progress. Carina Milde, curator at the EWK Archive
is shouting from the background "Oh, yes, Louise, it will be the best of photos!"

Zapiro, September 5, 2000.
As simple as it can possibly be - and as forceful in meaning.

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 place with the declared combatants posing as warriors of freedom and the look at me moral glorification it entails while de facto leading the attention away from the actual problems at hand.

Riber Hansson, Freedom of speech.
With freedom of speech as a pre-condition for democracy,
this is the visualization of "democracy" in Russia.

The freedom of speech should and must always be nourished, and one of the issues we need to address is the simple, but crucial truth that while all cartoons are permitted, not all cartoons are good.

A piece of propaganda has always been of use on both sides of a conflict, when the opponent brags of being perceived as a scary monster by the other side. But there are cartoons out there so poorly composed they say the opposite of what was intended.

I have called it the acid test of cartooning: The Assad Test, how to prove whether a cartoon misses its point. Whenever that is the case, let them justifiably be forgotten.

Then there is of course that number of cartoons, the sole purpose of which is to mock. We should just call them for what they are and let us pat all of the weak and mocking ones on their imaginary heads while we pass them by to focus on the core of the profession of cartooning, put so well by Angel Boligán earlier this year:

"There is an imaginary line, and within it, our opinions are credible, however forceful they are. If we pass this line to the brutality of unjustified aggression, we run the risk of losing credibility."

Zapiro, November 22, 2011.
When actively obliterating his own actions, President Zuma is
undermining democracy.
His showerhead for a halo can never again be unseen.

When the cartoonists take care not to pass the line, we should and ought do no less. In the media hype we forget to laud those very cartoonists, who fight every day.

The activist-cartoonists, who are truly under pressure, physically and verbally, and yet they would not dream of doing anything less than their best. Zapiro will say that his activist days are a little behind him, but his cartoons tell a different story.

He is under as severe a political pressure as before, in fact much more so now, working on his moral outrage "and I have the platform" as he says. He would not even think otherwise. That is moral obligation at its strongest.

It is an inspiration.

Zapiro, May 27, 2016.
The epitome of the great cartoonist.

The cartoons shown are courtesy of their artists and must not be reproduced without their permission. Zapiro's work is seen at

Monday, 17 October 2016

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".

Nadia Khiari, WillisfromTunis, October 17, 2016.

"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 seen at the center of a panel. He owned the stage.
He would throw in that one sentence, which cut through all well-meaning words:
"DR Congo is known to be the "capital of rape" -
yet not a single person has been indicted by the International Court of Justice"
The photo was taken by LCL.

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.

Thembo Kash 2014 on the DRC warlords left alone by the international
community, giving them plenty of time and space to sell
the natural resources of DRC for weapons.
They grow weapons for limbs.
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."

Thembo Kash, July 20, 2014 on the constant "revision" of The Constitution,
who tries to speak her case that she was promised not to be touched again,
to which the answer is that she must stop believing in declarations
and look to actions taken instead.

The truth. A fundamental notion of cartooning too as defined by the Danish satirical magazine Corsaren when attacked in 1842:

Corsaren never engage in telling facts or pose anything as a fact, but while attempting to satirize and allude to that which has taken place, the truth is the condition for the existence of Corsaren.

Thembo Kash transforms the fact of rape into the context of The Constitution. The Constitution is in place in DRC, but rarely used as intended. Attempts to undermine the existence of it are constantly taking place, and Thembo Kash has created a powerful image uniting the tragedy of the individual with the whole of society. 

- And in turn how the courage of the individual using his freedom of speech can make a change for the greater good: In 2014 Dr. Mukwege spoke decisively against a change in the constitution, which would give President Kabila a chance to remain for a third term.

Dr. Mukwege is seen below padlocking the Constitution against another situation of rape. The two commentators agree it could be a stepping-stone for a change for the better in society. The presidential election should have taken place in December 2016, but Kabila has had it postponed until 2018

Thembo Kash, October 24, 2014.

Let us make us slaves of truth.

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Thembo Kash and must not be reproduced without his permission.

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