Monday, 31 December 2018

Cartoonist Portrait of the Year

Zunar, August 3, 2015.

Zunar can blow on his smoking gun to mark a job damn well done.

Zunar - his mission is written all over his body:
"I will keep drawing until the last drop of my ink".
In truth, the cartoon above is three years old. Cartoonists do not waste time drawing themselves once their mission is accomplished. The one above was a distillation of his hitherto most important self-portrait, the one to the right of here.

This too is not so much of his person as of his mission. It was a catalog of the number of charges with no basis in the constitution, formulated to lock up those critical of the Malaysian government. Yet, Zunar kept drawing and the cartoon is a cartoon on his compositional technique: Placing the protagonist as the main object on the picture frame, while painting with the only bodily movement left to him. She being drawn is the wife of the then prime minister and co- if not the major player in their corruption scheme.

She may be a composition on his paper, but he is drawing the truth of her being, seeing as we all do Rosmah Mansor yelling at the bottom plane: Charge him!

His weapon of choice proved to be one of sharp precision and in defining his mission, the words are reason and necessity; an informed voice, reasoning every detail in composing his cartoons. He cut to the core of the matter. That is how we define art: and the core of great art we call love.

All the more so for having a greater goal than the person of the former prime minister. Najib has now lost all relevance. He is on track to his final expiration date:

Add caption

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Zunar: PLEASE SHARE

Wednesday, 19 December 2018


The present words are thoughts on a book two months published or nearly so. It is the first collection of the cartoons by Khalid Albaih stemming from the days of Occupy till the present and it has been interesting to note the first reactions from holding almost a kilo of them within that one cover.

Spread from Khartoon! on what followed from the US reaction to 9/11.
The feedback has focused on the stark meeting with Khalid's line, all the more present from being seen on a solid page. Stark black on a white page no less. There is every sense of being met on each page with an onslaught of a clear idea transformed into line.

The stark onslaught has postponed seeing the wider frame of their setting, and since that what was our favourite part of the road to the book, I cannot wait any longer to write a few words about it.

It felt like an revelation seeing the cartoons fall into their natural place as in a mosaic finally being laid. A mosaic just waiting to be detected in its entirety. Seeing Khalid's jubilations while he and I did the arrangement were the most memorable moments I shall take from making the book. This was seeing his own work on a new level. The cartoons fell into place with each other, winding their tale on the reasons why situations arose and how the one lead to the next.

The collection forms in its entirety a novel on our time. The major events of the past decade across the globe from the Occupy movement and the war on Iraq to Black Lives Matter and the civil courage of Kaepernick kneeling.

Our idea was to step back from cartoons referring to specific persons or events. The selection is about happenings, developments and the human nature in the general sense. This is about the greater image of how our age came about with the affinities to human action through all of time. Such as greed and corruption and what the two of them cause in unison.

Spread from Khartoon!

We are still living in what we see before us. The consequences are still our everyday lives and we do not know what shall happen from here.

Spread from Khartoon!
The girl reaching for Wi-Fi by standing on the books of before was the cartoon struggling the most finding its proper place in the whole. It is at once so positive on the eagerness of reaching further and yet so sad. Suddenly it glided into place, finding home with nature turned into the spying life of CCTV. Human life is one of enterprise driven by passion and obsession and more often than not formed against fellow humans.

Thus are we, all of this are we. That is the gift from the artist transforming his idea from "anybody's language" in the words of Virginia Woolf, into a "perpetual marriage" with us, the beholders. He creates a curtain that draws us in and forms itself around us. No one is left out.

Spread from Khartoon!

Khartoon! can be ordered at the publisher here and you are welcome to email them. Alternatively Danish PEN will distribute it by way of your local PEN.

Monday, 17 December 2018


This is not a civil war, as Pedro X. Molina has told us since April this year.

This is not a conflict of two sides.

There is but one, and please click for every element of its physiognomy, because Nicaragua needs help to stop it in its track:

Pedro X. Molina, Rabid, November 25, 2018.

We have seen them gradually transform into their true face. Red swirls for the pupils of their eyes at once disclose their blood-pounding rage and beyond that how there is no sense to be found within. Hundreds have lost their lives to them. Many more are wounded. They are cracking down on the critical press. Pedro X. Molina is one of their targets.

As long as the world does nothing, they can show off their torn prizes. To the left the Nicaraguan constitution is no longer. To the right the human rights.

If still nothing is done, human rights are indeed but an empty void.

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Pedro X Molina: PLEASE SHARE.

Monday, 10 December 2018

Dilemma into Conflict

Roar Hagen, 2017: "It's typically Norwegian to be good".
Words first articulated by then Prime Minister, Gro Harlem Brundtland.
Note the desert setting...

The rock on which Norway is built is a solid one.

Equal measures of heroic history and the grandeur of nature, both of which of a forceful and dangerous character not to be messed with.

With grandeur comes a moral collective obligation to do right and the Norwegians of present day have been doing their utmost. Today this year's Nobel Peace Prize shall be awarded in Oslo. Norway too has housed forums for negotiating peace, just as they strive to be the major donor country in the world. 

Roar Hagen, 2017: "We are suing the parliament for our own riches".
Roar Hagen gifted me his beautiful book Den norske fortellingen (The Norwegian Tale) when we met this autumn, highlighting four decades of taking on the role no less of anthropologist and sociologist, working at the core of that very moral dilemma.

While the classical dichotomy of cartooning lies between the ideal that human never was and the actual fallible human, this is a dichotomy between what once was and the moral drive to do likewise in the present.

At the heart of the dilemma lies another obstacle. It has in fact pushed the mountains into the background as Roar accentuates, although the eternally snow-clad peaks only serve to show off the difference. The new and strange structure, however, is breaking into society making that gap all the bigger: Oil.

A dirty word almost all of itself. To the dilemma already at hand has now been added the collective guilt of being rich.

Roar Hagen, 2017.
Oil is a defining matter, linked to a certain type of behaviour. Indifference or outright opposition to human rights is one of them.

From moral dilemma to moral conflict in other words, being on first name level with Iran and Saudi. Even taking a step back while they set the oil prices, means taking active part. Barren yellow creeps in as the ground on which everything takes places.

Roar Hagen, 2016
OH WHY? the wretched Norwegian shouts out, not even getting an echo for an answer as the mountains of yore would have provided. The oil culprits meanwhile could not care any less, busy as they are shooting down the price per barrel in order to create problems for the other - two of a kind as they are in their brush-off, forgetting the troubles it creates for themselves too. Even the stupidity of it.

"We must in some measure distance ourselves from reality, that is, from ourselves", Roar concludes.

Norway has placed its riches for the long-term common good, saving for the future. Not a bad new rock as it is, although that is no consolation for the struggling. Besides, there is much to do. Not least from what is created by those, who brush of our shared humanity.

Roar Hagen, 2015.

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Roar Hagen and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Saturday, 1 December 2018

"Everyone has left me"

We are speaking of persons, who have already served their sentences.

The Danish government proposes to place "criminal foreigners" on a secluded seven acres island. "Criminal" as in persons who have served a sentence, but cannot be sent back or those who have taken part in foreign wars such as in Syria.

They would be barred from the rest of society.

Ali Durrani/Eaten Fish, Detail of Getting Beaten.

It would be against the rulings from our High Court just as it would be against the human rights if it were to become a reality. There is no such thing as "problem gone" by secluding certain persons or groups of persons in a responsible society. To willfully do wrong belongs to despotism.

The secluded would continue to be the responsibility of the government in what would be their reality going forward. Every beating, every incident of sexual abuse, and violence from other "inmates" as well as from the guards present is the action of the government.

We have cartooning evidence from within showing us the horrific face of that reality.

Ali Durrani/Eaten Fish. 

Please click the present cartoons for their detailing on the living hell Ali Durrani endured as an asylum seeker arriving in Australia in July 2013 until December 2017 when he was rescued to Norway. He arrived at the very moment the Australian Prime Minister announced an arrangement with Papua New Guinea to send on asylum seekers to an "offshore" placement while their status was being assessed. Ali was but 21.

He was sent to Manus Island in 2014 where he endured a living hell of violence and sexual harassment. Drawing became a means of keeping going, buying a pen through his weekly points, while paper had to be stolen one sheet at a time from the office, as he told me when we met in May this year.

So each sheet is used to the full, brimming over with information on what took place.

We learn of the friend who died from violence and subsequent neglect. His grave is a constant presence as an insistence and homage of his life lost, just as we learn of the guards becoming part of the problem egging on the violence taking place. For one, stealing the paper meant punishment.

And no, drawing was no help to him. It did not make him feel better. To humankind, on the other hand, it is important documentation on what happens, when isolation and neglect are made acceptable means. People died from it on Manus Island. Ali very nearly became one of them.

The far-right extremists who have a deciding voice in Danish politics have denounced the term "human" as if that is something that can be undecided by waving it off. Again, please click on the present cartoons and do look up Ali's work penned as Eaten Fish.

This is proof of humanity when it is denounced.

Ali Durrani/Eaten Fish, Nightmare

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Ali Durrani.

Monday, 8 October 2018

Future Lost

Pedro X. Molina, October 4, 2018.
"Faber López was a police officer, who at some point during the protests againt the
Ortegan government decided enough was enough and handed in his resignation.
He was forced into the street, where he was killed on July 8. He was killed
by the police, according to his mother".

@Inktober is now in its ninth year dedicating one month to the basic act of drawing. Free of the demands from editors and other customers, this is an occasion created to let the pen run free. It is a celebration of the infinite possibilities of hand and pen. What is otherwise toned down, can now twirl and twist with just the one requirement that each day during October should produce its own drawing.

Pedro X. Molina, October 6, 2018.
"Rayneia Lima was a Brazilian medical student in Nicaragua. She was killed by
paramilitaries when she was driving home after finishing her shift at a local hospital.
She was 31".

While Inktober is toning down the content for the form, Pedro X. Molina is dedicating the daily deadline to a subject that has been drowned in all that has taken place in Nicaragua this spring and summer. He declares the cartoon an instrument and his present task is an extensive one morally and workwise to get every detail right. Pedro X. Molina is dedicating each day to a Nicaraguan, who has lost her or his life by hands of the Ortega's paramilitary groups. More often than not a young person, now given a face and their personal data for their moment of recognition.

The young could in terms of dates already belong to a past, yet what they stood for is as important and unresolved as ever, and so their loss is given a presence on why they were denied a future.

Pedro X. Molina, October 7, 2018.
"Matt Romero, a high school student was participating in a march for the freedom of political
prisoners on September 23, where he was killed. He was 16".

They are each looking directly at us with welcoming generosity. They are not confronting us. Theirs are the open faces of the young in contrast to the disguised militants, who took their lives. These are the ones, who have been called derogatory names by Rosario Murillo. Now we see the true light of their faces. They are the future lost.

Each is presented with a piece of characteristics or a symbol on the human that were here mere moments ago. The soft apparel of the former uniformed policeman, for one. Most notable are the recurring blue and white stripes. They are Nicaragua.

Pedro X. Molina's #inktober2018 can be followed at his Instagram account @pxmolina.

Pedro X. Molina, October 5, 2018.
"Erick Cubillo was a student at Universidad Nacional de Ingenieria.
In killing him, his two-year old daughter was left without her father".

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Pedro X. Molina: PLEASE SHARE THEM.

Sunday, 7 October 2018

The Portrait Test

What do you want people to say when they point to your oil painting?

Khalid Albaih, MBS and the "Media", March 8, 2018.
Mohammed bin Salman boosting his image as a reformer
while jailing dissent.
100 years, 200 years, 300 years from now, what are the deeds that stand out, when all the noise has evaporated? When you are no longer there to butter up the press so that they fall for your sweet-talking about being moderate and forward thinking?

The exiled Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi is missing after visiting the Saudi consulate in Istanbul. Dr. Khashoggi has been a tireless and important voice on what is going on behind the Saudi cover of moderation, while authoritarianism is being strengthened.

Rumors speak of his being killed within the consulate. We only have rumors, but we know of their being only too possible.

The pattern is well established. The women's rights bloggers, Nouf Abdulaziz and Eman al-Nafjan, are both under arrest. In Yemen millions, many of which are infants, are facing starvation due to the Saudi-led coalition.

Then let the cartoonists carry the true painting from the attic.

Cartoonists believe in disclosure while everyone is still around and so they carry Dorian Gray's portrait from the attic of Oscar Wilde's novel, in this case the true likeness of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman as drawn by Khalid Albaih. Eating children is one of the oldest tropes of evil. In this case, the situation is an actual one.

The Crown Prince is the acting body in seeing to the starving taking place. He is feasting on the profits from letting infants in the millions die from starvation.

Khalid Albaih, Yemeni Meal, September 25, 2018.

Dorian Gray killed the artist of his oil painting to keep his soul a secret. In September the Saudi authorities declared a ban on online satire for its "disruption" of "public order".

Well, this is not satire. This is the Saudi leader grown into his own cartoon for what he is: the opposer of civil rights. His answer to non-violent speaking of rights is one of violence.

You shall indeed be your own portrait of what you do. 

Khalid Albaih, OBEY, November 7, 2017.

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

Wednesday, 26 September 2018

Do We Need Stereotypes?

Christoph Niemann with his example on how to
minimize the population of baby pandas.
Screenshot from his TEDtalk, August 2018.
"Every time a drawing like this is published, a baby panda will die", Christoph Niemann warned in his most recent TED Talk last month.

The stacking of pictorial elements such as the suit, the ladder and the dollar sign into an "And then... and then... and then...". All telling and no showing. It might as well have been written. There is a reason, why it is a safe blanket for editors, as Niemann points out, in that no one will notice the presence of the cartoon.

Niemann took a stand against what I call lazy cartooning and it is an important one, since this is what gives cartooning a bad name. I wish to take his words one step further and address the lazy way we talk about cartooning, i.e. the tired litany that cartooning runs on stereotypes.

When we speak of premises for composing a cartoon, we do not speak of a repertoire or even just motif the way we classify the workings of other art forms. Instead, we speak of stereotypes, which in its meaning comprises the form as well as its content. A stale idea from beginning to end from which arises nothing but a travesty: a mockery of all that is artistic creation and by thus intelligent life.

The life of lazy argumentation is made all the easier from the fact that cartooning uses figuration. Such as fish, bears and the Statue of Liberty. Well then, the line of argumentation seems to take, every time there is a bear, that is... seen before... But cartooning is not primarily about the seen before.

Cartooning is what it brings to the conversation with us, its beholders.

Riber Hansson, 2007.

The danger of even looking this bear into his eyes.

Before us - right above and below - are two of the most drawn symbols on power and freedom respectively. They come from each from their corner of the world and they each specify how their respective nations define themselves or are defined.

Let us speak of Ur-Stories.

Art forms have their Ur-Stories onto which every new artwork adds another layer. The two symbols before us are effective in that the one above contain a long story of killing fields, defeating both Napoleon and Hitler, because the latter ignored the lesson Napoleon was given. There is a myth to that power of something impossible to fully grasp however much we try.

Below is the Roman goddess Libertas in her best-known recent configuration as the giant in bronze correlating to the giant idea of freedom. Goddesses and what they personify along with the powerful animals are imagery on the grandest scale from the equally grand compositions of history painting once commissioned for palaces and later on for town halls and parliaments.

Here someone will immediately object that regal history painting is no longer relevant and there is a reason why. However, there will always be ample reason for the artist taking on history, as Aristotle confirmed. The artist creates something that we can encompass with our eyes. A dramatic mise en scène that encompasses all that has taken place and what is likely to happen from here on.

Aristotle gives us the fine-tuning explanation on what the cartoonist does when using figuration. The solidity before our eyes is based in abstraction. The artist selects the traits of our day and age and deducts from there what will reasonably take place. In the dramatic narrative that ensues, we see the characters how they are likely to speak or act.

We recognize the characters. We recognize their arguments. We recognize it all because this is our world; an observation that was true, when Aristotle wrote it just as it is today. We are part of what is taking place before us and we see it all come alive.

Portraiture is a key feature to the drama. In fact, a portrait can be so deftly composed that it encompasses it all. Riber Hansson has drawn a specific danger. The one that seeks to stifle truth and democracy alike. Putin is replacing the many voices of democracy to the one before us. His narrative only. He his challenging us, securing our gaze to let us know just how dangerous his game is. His file is just for show. He is his own weapon and his portraitist has undressed him to his fur.

There is a narrative to win back from the narrative of Putin and his lackeys around the world, one of which is orange. Siri Dokken has dissolved the Drumpf into orange gasses interspersed with willowy yellow. This is a composition on a juxtaposition that is no longer there. The bronze has been eaten from within and is now collapsing to one side, while the gasses are unraveling to the other. The only vertical line left is the IV stand. Liberty is nothing but a skull whose skin has dragged the ear down to one side. That is a badass detail of the most painful nature.

The eyes of the bronze has slit open to the despair beyond all despair.

It is not healthy looking into her eyes, just as it is not healthy looking into Putin's, but "We need to be involved in the argument if we are to have any chance of winning it", as Salman Rushdie wrote in the The New Yorker in May on the anti-truth times in which we live.

Our cartoonists have given us the punch in the stomach to do so.

Siri Dokken, August 23, 2018.

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

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: PLEASE SHARE THEM.

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:

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.

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


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.

Saturday, 23 June 2018

A Tale Of Four Images

Khalid Wad Albaih, August 18, 2016.

The trouble with imagery sharing a compositional resemblance is that most of the time we cannot establish, whether it may have been mental laziness on the copyist's part or that they are sharing their time and age and are as such each of them part of the larger picture.

It may be that the artist was taking up the inspiration found from another, which makes it proof how inspirational the first image turned out to be. The artist next in line was waiting for the right moment to make his or her own version. 

In the present case this is a story of four images so far.

The first two ones centered on the situation of Syrian children. All too painfully known photos on the little drowned Aylan Kurdi and Omran Daqneesh taken to an ambulance from beneath the rubbles of Aleppo following Russian air strikes. 

Khalid Albaih each time created his version within the first hours of their photos being published, stripping the children of the scenery in which they were photographed as if stark cut-outs and placing them on a stark luminous background by which he created a direct confrontation with the beholder. A situation needs to be changed and responsibility must be placed. 

Omran confronting Putin proved not as popular as the one of the two children. The press, ever terrified of not appearing neutral - Ahem! - emphasizes the one below, which in turn went viral. This is the one, whose own artist worries every time he sees it in social media feeds, knowing there will be new, horrific news. It has taken on a life of its own:
Khalid Wad Albaih, August 18, 2016.

This week Time Magazine published this cover on Trump made to face his own doings, separating children and toddlers from their parents at the borders, without till now even securing a minimum of organization to make it possible for the parents to have their children back: 

@time: #welcometoamerica, June 21, 2018.

Trump never face responsibilities of any kind; let us be honest, so Khalid Albaih responded to the cover by adding another layer to it. By the time the cover was published, Melania Trump had boarded a flight to Texas with THAT jacket with the impossible-to-overlook all capital lettering I REALLY DON'T CARE, DO U?

But not just that. Military personnel have been added to keep the child from even being seen. The total ignorance of the scene. The uniformed are mere shadows of human life.

Khalid has added the danger, of which the girl is the visualization, just like Omran and Aylan.

The little girl is exposing the autocracy already at play in the official US. This is The Land of the Unfree.

Khalid Albaih, End of Times, June 23, 2018.

Khalid Albaih publishes his khartoons under a Creative Commons license.

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