Tuesday, 24 October 2017

A Genuine Question


How could an idea possibly gain ground in a population by way of violence directed at them?

Hate generates hate and violence generates violence, as Khalid Albaih concluded upon the terrorist bomb attack in Mogadishu, Somalia.



Khalid Wad Albaih, Confused: what would make you think
that violence against civilians will spread an idea? 
October 17, 2017.



A khartoon of doubles; layers upon layers of them intricately woven into one another.

The obvious first layer of light vs. darkness creates a intricacy of its own kind by shifting who gets to do what. The light for instance is not taking on the narration, while leaving it to the black ink to act as its backdrop. They each add in, making for an intelligent play with our brains of the kind that is a Gestalt psychologist's life dream.

The very kind of brain activity, which the terrorist is lacking. He is utter darkness, speech bubble included.

Still, his eyebrows are twisting each their way in his conviction of being right.

Added to this is the "before" and "after" of which we are still seeing the "before", looking on as we are from the "after", where we know the answer to Khalid's question only too well.

He has made certain that we see the idea first of all, incorporating a visual delay by adding a hand to the grenade below, thereby blurring its outline.

Khalid is intentionally playing with us and yet he is not confining us. His composition is an honest, open and genuine question: How on earth would creation spread from destruction?



The khartoon shown is courtesy of Khalid Wad Albaih and must not be reproduced without his permission.



Sunday, 22 October 2017

The Loneliest Prisoner


A hunger strike is a cry for help from one without a voice. A human risking life in desperation of a way back to life.


Mana Neyestani, Mohammad Nazari, The Loneliest, October 22, 2017.


Mana Neyestani has portrayed Mohammad Nazari filing off his own body as the only thing left to him. Mohammad Nazari has been on hunger strike for 80 days following 24 years of imprisonment.

He was 23, when he was sentenced.

His crime consisted in being a member of the Iranian Kurdish party. A death sentence was later changed to a life of imprisonment. Since 2013 a said membership is no longer a crime.

Still, he is locked in and in his lonely fight to see freedom, Mana Neyestani has transformed him into his own monument. Honoring his bravery, Mohammad Nazari is drawn holding one hand high in spite of being hollowed from within from the metal of imprisonment.

He is drawn without a face given his destiny. Yet, his courage is of a strength beyond the humanly possible and Mana Neyestani has placed him so high to emphasize that we have to look up him even when seeing him on paper.

Let the final words be Mohammad Nazari's own. Words from an open letter of October 18:

"Don’t abandon me. I don’t have anyone. My father, mother and brother were laid to rest years ago in the cemetery in Boukan. Your helping hand is my only hope. Help me. Help me so that my voice can be heard. Help me gain the freedom I am legally entitled to."


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


"I do not offer answers"


- "but I would like to ask the right questions", Sara Qaed, a young cartoonist of Bahrain stated in an interview for Canvas at this year's Arab Cartoon Festival in Belgium.


Sara Qaed, What you usually do with all that is said, April 19, 2016.

Sara Qaed poses her questions in her cartoons with a strong line, which has no time for small talk nor indeed lies. She takes her subjects to their very bone structure to uncover their truth value.

Words are more often than not noise in our societies and just as often they are used as a cover to betray away our attention. The higher the noise, the more can be hidden within and the one tugging and striving against the multitude of speech bubbles need as much of the picture plane as possible to find the strength needed.

Sara Qaed, Series, March 8, 2017.
His lone figure is the visual counterpart to the line of silencers. Each time a voice is silenced a pattern emerges and multiplies. The final one to the left is the only one recognizable for a human form.

The rest are rounded lines, connected beyond infinity, impossible to say where they come from and why. Which is ultimately not even of relevance. The pattern has taken on a life on its own, keeping each section of the chain in check.

Sara Qaed, Human Meal Rotation, March 13, 2017,
Such a pattern is indeed mute, as Siegfried Kracauer specified with such precision in 1927 on the mass ornament. Ornaments made up of a number of bodies, performing in the same act to visualize an idea.

To this end they have turned themselves into a passive material, a tool - I am still paraphrasing Kracauer - incapable of extending into other directions beyond the one designated to them.


Sara Qaed, Re-cycling, March 6, 2017.


Sara Qaed, From his system, March 6, 2017.


Visibility is a core instrument to the power play that is ornamentation. Fresh material must constantly be lured in to keep it evolving while each new component makes it even harder to detect the elements therein. The latter are busy in their passive pursuit to do their duty; eating while being eaten, at the same time as the despot is affirming the symbol of eternal repetition.

Art as an act of violence. A lineup onto graph paper to rid the individual beings of what perfection deems superfluous:



Sara Qaed, Equal 2 cm., September 24, 2017.

Sara Qaed, Black Squares, August 1, 2017.
With the beheaded we are back to the noise of speech, this time the spoken word of which no second meaning are permitted yet constructed as a means to disguise that very fact.

By making her own field the battleground of despots using the seductiveness of the interlacing line, Sara Qaed is proving her strength. She is denuding her artistic voice of any embellishment, which might act as an excuse for creating distraction.

Sara Qaed, Bottleneck, August 22, 2017
Imperfection is one such way of intelligent life, fighting to find a way to freedom, and disclosed to us through transparency. Just as we were not meant to see the women being traded, trapped as they are from poverty and being under age.

Sara Qaed, The Store Selling Women - Syria/Lebanon, April 7, 2016.


The insistence of power to disguise itself continues all the way into the halls of obvious power.

This is a map otherwise unseen of the states in the Gulf, the potentates each carving and eating off each other:


Sara Qaed, The Gulf Cutting Their Relationships, June 6, 2017.

Sara Qaed, Book Reading, April 8, 2015.
To the clarity of the line, Sara Qaed adds another layer: Her tiny strokes and dots in succession close to each other.

They are serving as a visual language in itself on the physical movement or mental reaction of fear, anger or despair of the human in question.

In unison with the larger frame, she creates a facetted analysis in which she each time takes us beneath the surface.

We even get to see the beaming of those actively informing themselves to walk on in life. Or we get to meet the one, who is repeated called a LOSER. He too suddenly reaches out to grab a hold of a poisonous speech bubble to transform it into a means to building wings and a new life ahead.

His own speech bubble is a song. 


Sara Qaed, Loser Can Fly, October 14, 2016.



The cartoons shown are courtesy of Sara Qaed and must not be reproduced without her permission.



Thursday, 5 October 2017

Sapuman: Man of Steal


Zunar is banned from leaving his country and one by one his books are banned too. One after another his profession and his economical means are undermined.

Yesterday the turn came to SAPUMAN; Man of Steal - with the prime minister for front cover, corruption in hand while Zunar in chains is painting with his mouth on the back cover. To quote from his statement at CRNI in his own words:

"I would like to reiterate that this ban will not stop me from drawing cartoons to expose corruption and injustice. You can ban my books, you can ban my cartoons, but you cannot ban my mind. When the government is faulty, drawing cartoon is a duty."

"Laugh at them" he wrote in my copy - and yes, SAPUMAN is well beyond the borders of Malaysia...





Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Never Another One


Cintia Bolio, "Virginia Woolf" for Revista con la A,
September 26, 2017.


Quotations tend to be presented with a smug smile. This one is noteworthy for being nothing of the sort. There is a deep pain in stating the truth of having to express oneself solely by way of concealing what one stands for. Placing one's art out there, without the right to be there oneself.

Cintia Bolio has given us a new Virginia Woolf. The latter is usually always drawn in profile, all angular lines with the portraitist going all the way, doing what the art photographers in her day could but hint at. Cintia Bolio, on the other hand, lets Virginia Woolf look directly at us, with three sharp and shadowed layers for eyes. We are facing a fact and Cintia Bolio is making certain there is no mental escape.

Author and cartoonist are further connected by the ink as their basic means for expressing themselves. Cintia Bolio draws with a strength and flourish to her line, playing with us that what may seem a traditional feminine touch, has the power to cut open our way of seeing things. Mouths are dangling before their faces, as we shall see below, because the world is so outrageous every boundary should be broken. Just not on Virginia; the two of them are in accordance.

Above, the ink well is spelling the name of the one, with the other letting that name flourish into two of her main subjects: the heart and the uterus.
Cintia Bolio, 2017.
"How to own your body
without being criminalized in the attempt".

AT LONG LAST the uterus gets her own say.

And we have a new body part in the arts.

A visual presence of a body part, which has been there all along, unseen and yet suppressed as that place of from where all danger stems.

The proof has been in equal measurement mythical and sociological, just as science has declared its fair share of nonsense through the ages.

But this uterus drawn by Cintia Bolio no longer puts up with men defining her and she has much to do.



Cintia Bolio, on abortion for World Policy Journal, January 2017.

Case in point in the immediate above and below. The uterus has speech bubbles in her own right and the force to fly her own way. "Justice belongs to those who exercise it" as Cintia Bolio adds to the cartoon below. A sentence which is at the center of the struggle. The miter does his utmost.


Cintia Bolio, Decriminalization and Effects, 2008.

Cintia Bolio:
"Political prisoners for abortion, Freedom!"



The uterus clenches her one ovary ready to take on the fight.

Hers is a dangerous task. She is fighting for freedom, pointing to specific problems women are facing in Mexico such as minimal wages, being left out of paid leave and health insurance, while trying to raise their children on the next to nothing they earn.

The discrimination reaches into the body of the Mexican woman, and thus we return to the uterus herself. This is where it gets dangerous for her, questioning her status.

Such as questioning the status of life and the right to abortion. Cintia Bolio uses the very definition given to the uterus on the male situation. Considering not a single living entity is allowed to go to waste as the reason for making abortion illegal, what about the male daily outlet of.... how many? Such a waste and what is more: THAT is illegal.  

Cintia Bolio, detail from the satirical magazine El Chamuco, September 2016.
"In contrast, men do not, although they abort more every time
they ejaculate without reproductive purposes"

With this Cintia Bolio declares The Male Abortion.

Cintia Bolio, detail from the satirical
magazine El Chamuco, September 2016.
The male counterpart loses his breakfast at hearing this... although he is not late in arguing back, taking on the status of Rightful Judge. "My law" as he phrases it, when confronted with The Grim Reaper, who sees a new line of work.

The Grim Reaper argues that norms do not change the fact that spermatozoa contain life to which his opponent responds "I refuse to see it that way, We are not stupid."

Thus argues the one gender on behalf of the other.


Cintia Bolio, The Ideal Female Citizen, 2015.
"- Done. You have no need for such leftist rights...
to fulfill your obligations"


Tied from within with no chance express herself at the ballot box and with this we add another layer to the violence of the situation. It is one thing throwing light on abortion by way of uncovering the double standards. Another is the number of women murdered. Considering their number it is a slaughter and all too many are never even found, quoting Margaret Atwood how


"Men are afraid that women will laugh at them.
Women are afraid that men will kill them".

Cintia Bolio, Memento, 2005.

Cintia Bolio, detail from Memento, 2005.

It is heart wrenching seeing the drawing on its own to the left. The skeletal hand, touching the Missing Person poster with her own portrait, probably never to be found. The story of a life in which each page is composed on the pink cross of the murdered woman.

The symbolism carried by the likes of the uterus and the pink cross are at once new and well-known, creating a presence of the ones, who have been here all along, yet unseen and later unfound.

"I did not love my life, because it was a good one, but because it was mine", our unfound protagonist lays before us. The right to live is as always a question posed only to the weakest in our societies. The sick, the elderly and the women: Is your life of value?

Cintia Bolio, Memento, 2005.


Cintia Bolio, 2017.
"Fighting the violence and gender discrimination.
-This is where you came from. Respect".

Respect. Presence. Voice.

At which we are right back at the heart in the scroll in Virginia Woolf's name. The hearts of Cintia Bolio are the ones pumping pain or sound or both, with the insistence of empathy and understanding as its center.

The heart below addresses the murdering of journalists, to which Cintia Bolio and Virginia Woolf belong each in her way. Anyone touching upon the necessity of change set themselves in danger.

Yet Cintia Bolio speaks. For the very necessity for it: Ni una más. Never another one.




Cintia Bolio: Without Journalism No Democracy, August 2017.
"NO TO SILENCE "



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




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