Friday, 9 December 2011

Pragttegninger 2011: Per Marquard Otzen

WHAT THE CARTOONIST CAN

ENGLISH TRANSLATION IN ITALICS


Per Marquard Otzen: Den totale krig/ The Total War.
Politiken, May 30, 2011. 


Sommeren 2011 gjorde endnu en gang spørgsmålet aktuelt: Fører ord til handling? Går der en linje mellem debatniveauet i Europa til terrorhandlingen i Norge?  I dagene middelbart efter skulle den yderste højrefløj fastholde, at alt, hvad de gør, er at tale, og at de aldrig har inspireret til vold. Men bare to måneder før Norge blev ramt, tegnede Per Marquard Otzen den danske politiker, Mogens Camre, fra Dansk Folkeparti på talerstolen med flyvende knytnæve og citat fra hans seneste bog om hans opfordring til at bruge militær overmagt for at tage "vort land tilbage".

Vi kunne indvende, at Per Marquard Otzen har trukket nazikortet og taget en nem genvej, hvor en politiker gøres til dagens Hitler. Nem, fordi vi allerede er fortrolige med knytnæve, håret, der midt i ophidselsen glider ned i øjnene, hvide øjenæbler og talerstolen som platform for hadetale, så vi straks tænker: Ah, men så ved vi, hvor vi er.

Men tegningen arbejder langt mere raffineret med os. Den rammer os fysisk på øjet. Mogens Camre står lysende på en baggrund, der aldrig lader vores øjne finde ro. Farverne sort og rød er magtens symbolfarver i europæisk kultur, hvor den sorte står for magten selv – magten til døden – mens den røde er blodet, der skal få tilhængere til at forbinde sig, så de kæmper til deres yderste. Dette er Mogens Camres taleflade. En flade, der brænder sig ind på vores nethinde som ét stort faresignal om, at vi allerede kender effekten af hans ord. Hvad der gik galt i 1930'erne, kan ske igen, hvis vi ikke siger fra.

Tegningen handler derfor mindre om Camre. Den handler om os. 

Kan en bladtegning så gøre forskel og føre fra tegning til handling? Lad os droppe det retoriske spørgsmålstegn og i stedet sætte udråbstegnet: Ja! En bladtegning kan gøre forskel!

Ikke, at der går en direkte linje fra, at nogen ser en tegning, hvorefter de går ud og gør en ganske bestemt handling. Et medium som bladtegningen er noget ganske særligt, fordi det skaber et mellemled mellem tegning og mulig handling: Den fører til eftertanke. Tegningen når os gennem øjet og giver os et rum, hvori vi tager os tid til at tænke. 



The summer of 2011 made the question relevant yet again: Do words lead to action? Was the act of terrorism in Norway linked to the level of debate in Europe? In the days following the mass murder of politically interested teenagers, the far right was busy insisting that all they did was talk and that they have never inspired to violence. But just two months before Norway was struck, Per Marquard Otzen drew the Danish politician Mogens Camre of Dansk Folkeparti (a right-wing, anti-anything-internationally-oriented party called "The Danish People's Party") on the podium with a flying fist and a quotation from his latest book about his call to use military superiority to "take back our country".

We could argue that Per Marquard Otzen has pulled the Nazi card and taken an easy shortcut transforming the politician into a Hitler of today. Easy, because we are already familiar with the fist, the hair which in the midst of his excitement slides down into his eyes, the white eyeballs and the podium as a platform for hate speech, and so we immediately think: Ah, but then we know where we are.

But the drawing works with us on a far more refined level. It affects our eyes physically. Mogens Camre is seen shining against a background that refuses to let our eyes find rest. Black and red are the colors of power in European culture of which the black stands for power - the power to take life - while the red is the blood which shall make followers connect, ready to make the ultimate sacrifice. This is the level or rather the plane onto which Mogens Camre is speaking. It is a surface that burns itself onto our retina as the signal of danger reminding us that we already know the effect of his words. What went wrong in the 1930s could happen again if we do not speak out ourselves.

The drawing is therefore less about Camre. It's about us.

Can a cartoon then make a difference and lead from drawing to action? Let us drop the rhetorical question mark and substitute it with an exclamation mark: Yes! A cartoon can make a difference!


Not that there will be the one specific action as a result of seeing a cartoon. A medium such as the cartoon is special because it creates an extra link between the drawing and a possible action: It leads to reflection. The drawing reaches us through our eyes creating a space for us in which we take the time to think.


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