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Zunar has been banned from traveling abroad, having had his passport withdrawn at the airport while about to fly to Singapore to participate in a forum.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 Further attention must be called to the fact that his passport was withdrawn by the inspector-general of police and not by a court of justice.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.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

On Verbal Violence

With social media we have seen a specific type of commentators gaining ground: the trolls. They have always been around on a full moon, only now they are screened from meeting whomever they are attacking online. Verbal violence has consequently become decidedly easy.

Due to the freedom of speech, they have of course a fundamental right to speak. This is a fact with which we cannot and shall not interfere.

But - BUT - sometimes verbal violence is exactly what it seems and we have to recognize it for what it is. Marilena Nardi has visualized it for us, never again to be mistaken for anything other.

This is the image for our inner eye the next time we are met with it.

Note the swollen red lid under the one eye. As Marilena Nardi points out, it is not just a beast within, but one that has been restrained till now. We must acknowledge the fact that no dialogue come from comments of the kind below, nor was dialogue ever intended.

This is bile. It is nothing but.

Marilena Nardi, re-published in August 2016.

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Marilena Nardi and must not be reproduced without her permission.

Tuesday, 4 October 2016

That One Line

Every time a child is dug out alive in the devastation of Aleppo, we are all as grateful as the White Helmet holding the child. For one instant a tiny light is lit in the midst of massacre. 

However. What we have before us is proof of the cartoonist seeing the full picture. Vasco Gargalo has added one line. 

This is the visualization of hell.

Vasco Gargalo: Sons of War, October 4, 2016.

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

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