Monday, 17 February 2014

A Nominee for Worst Editor in History?


Djamel Ghanem, September 27, 2013.
Thousands of job positions in September.

Infrastructure.

A strange word that has an invisibility to it. It is the glue of our society without which everything would be in chaos in a matter of a few days. However, it is only at times such as in our house with my Father on a ventilator that we are constantly vigilant of the electricity supply. Even a hint of a problem and his life will be at risk.

Internal and in every corner of society, lacking a center, infrastructure constitutes the same pictorial issues as the notion of democracy. And yet it is exactly in this the Algerian cartoonist, Djamel Ghanem, excels. With a delicate line which reminisces the French mid 20th century tradition, he depicts endless rows of desks or a line of fire extinguishers with no beginning or end and an occasional inspector, all of which by description sounds fairly graphically simple, but intricately unveils the lack of professionalism within the organization of society.

Some in power constitute themselves as different from the rest, taking the privilege of definition upon them, such as who is in favor and who is not, making the whole system weak. But the defining power is not included in his drawings, it is not even pointed at. Djamel Ghanem undresses the weakness of the whole tissue by creating a picture plane of repetitiveness. He creates drawings without a center.

This is the kind of cartoons that will go directly to the history books. Djamel Ghanem's drawings employs the language of power, revealing the absurdity the part of infrastructure which is constituted by social interactions. Such as the measures taken when the revolution broke out in Tunisia, curing the symptom of potential protesters setting fire to themselves with the correct placing of fire-extinguishers.

And now he is about to stand trial for a cartoon on President Abdelaziz Bouteflika. The maximum penalty if found guilty is 18 months of imprisonment.


Djamel Ghanem, September 27, 2013.
- Get up! Where do you think you are? In parliament...


Only in this case the suit was not filed by the president, but Djamel Ghanem's own editor and now former employer of the paper la Voix de l'Oranie.

The drawing in case is said to address the president and his possibility for a fourth term in office. But its contents are of no matter, since it was never even printed. This is new. Censorship in legal terms is not about the artwork itself, but its publication and distribution to a wider audience. Daumier was allowed to draw as he wished during the French July Monarchy, but when his drawings were published, his editor was taken to court and given a prison sentence.

His editor.

Editors and publishers have stood up for centuries for the critical voices they conveyed to the public and have paid the consequences that came with it. It has given them a place in history along with the cartoonists whose works they gave a platform.

This editor apparently saw a way out of paying his now former employee what he owed him by suing him instead, believing that if he could just drag in the name of the president, he could claim his own moral superiority.

There is no case, just a spineless editor. May the case be dissolved and may there be others who dare look at Djamel Ghanem's work for its rightful value. And thereby owe themselves their own place in history.


Djamel Ghanem, January 26, 2011.
Preventive measures against immolation.


The cartoons shown are courtesy of Djamel Ghanem. 

ETA: February 20 was Djamel attacked in an attempt to prevent him from drawing.


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