Thursday, 17 December 2015

When you tighten the ribbon...



Anne-Marie Steen Petersen, When you tighten the ribbon... December 10, 2015.
- the title alludes to a line in an old Danish Christmas carol
in which a little girl is told to carefully unwrap her doll
otherwise it might get strangled in the ribbon.


Last week an outrage erupted at the printing of the cartoon by Anne-Marie Steen Petersen in the Danish daily Politiken.

I for one loved it on the day. There is a delay in the composition by which your eye is drawn to the light of the match, highlighting the face of the Minister of Integration, Inger Støjberg. Then, not till then in spite of his being in the very middle, you realize that there in the shadows below is a hanged man. He was a refugee by the state of his clothes. A sad life even in death.

For a day or so anyone with the need to enter the moral high ground by way of what is at hand, made ample use of Anne-Marie Steen Petersen's cartoon. This was a new low, we were told, seeing how it was pointing the finger at Støjberg as if she were to blame for the intentions of the government and the number of refugees out there. This is the danger of cartooning, it was bombarded, creating monsters out of servants to the state.

To this it must be pointed out that Inger Støjberg posted a comment on Facebook the day before the printing of the cartoon in which she stated in the opening line: "The Swedes do politics in Sweden - I do politics in Denmark!" - however much she might but be the one, who takes the beating for being the face on the government's politics on integration, she very much stresses herself in which direction the beating shall be directed with the constant use of the singular "I". Besides, she is the one responsible for carrying it out.


Mana Neyestani, The Values, October 22, 2012.
That said, there is a long tradition of the hanged in art history and in particular in cartooning, of which this blog has them in sad plentiful. Khalid Wad Albaih here for instance or by Fadi Abou Hassan here, and to any Dane there is hardly a tree or a ceiling in the works by Storm P. from which someone is hanging.


They all bear the same meaning of giving a voice to the most vulnerable. An imagery that carries an allusion to Christ in every human being.


Francisco de Goya, Capricho: Aquí no hay quien viva / No one is alive here,
1812-15.


For the very same reason the emphasis is not on the hanged, rather he or the noose seen on its own is a catalyst for the sickness that brought out the noose in the first place. Visually the hanged one has forcefully been put in a position beyond reacting. This is the work of others, and all that takes place around the hanged is exposed for the sickness it is: The absurdity of our society in which there is not room for all, to a degree that a show it made of killing off the outcasts.

It is the inner life of man, which is killed off, with which Mana Neyestani interconnects the one who has the action in hand with the immobilized one. Such is the strength of imagination that the swirls and the curves of tree may win the picture plane. The scene is highlighted as if taking place in a stage light. With the stark darkness looming in a halo above.

With Goya the gallows looms to the one taking delight in the sight, while revealing an endless row of the hanged in the horizon. And then, this week another set of gallows turned up, this time a predicament of what is the best option since our society kills off either way...


Mana Neyestani, December 15, 2015.



Christmas is creating a light at the darkest time of the year around these parts. The darkness is very much part and parcel of Yule tide, why we are meant to help those as best we can in less happy circumstances. If Christmas is nothing but sugar sweets, as the critics of Anne-Marie's cartoon would have it, then they are emptying it of meaning.

Anne-Marie has on all levels and in the best of sense created a classical Christmas scene, which would have been approved had it been drawn two centuries ago.


The cartoons shown are courtesy of their artists and must not be reproduced without their permission.


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