By Fiana Gantheret
On the occasion of the bicentennial of the Dutch Constitution, the Cartoon Movement, together with Word Press Photo, the City of The Hague and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs launched on 29 March 2014 the Peace and Justice cartoon project at the Peace Palace in The Hague, The Netherlands.
With reference to Article 90 of the Constitution, which provides that “The Government shall promote the development of the international rule of law”, the project aims at triggering a debate on peace and justice through a series of guest lectures in several countries and the sharing of ideas that will follow these lectures. The students will be invited to share their thoughts by sending their tweets, sketches, comments and photos, that professional cartoonists will then transform into cartoons.
Here is a presentation of the project:
The ten best cartoons will be selected and displayed at the Peace Palace in the week of September 21, 2014, the International Day of Peace.
How may visual art and more specifically political cartoons contribute to the debate on peace and justice? Creating Rights has already touched upon this question when it presented here the Cartooning for Peace initiative.
On 29 March, Tjeerd Royaards, a professional cartoonist and the editor-in-chief of The Cartoon Movement, was here to discuss this question, together with Anne Schaepman, Project Manager Exhibitions at Word Press Photo, and Nico Schrijver, Professor of International Law at the Leiden University.
Political cartoons are a “powerful and unique media”, to cite Tjeerd Royaards, because they enhance facial recognition better than reality itself. He explained that the characters depicted in the cartoons are an essential component, as they are recognized in a split second, faster than when looking at the actual face. The character might also be identified by one feature, one trait of personality or of physical appearance that will leave no doubt in the public’s mind as to the identity of the person rendered.
When cartoons, and more specifically political cartoons, are made of one picture, they leave no choice to the audience: what they show will be seen instantly. There is almost a taste of revenge when they’re denouncing violations of the right to freedom of expression by dictatorial leaders: no matter how much they try to shut out the thoughts behind the drawing, it will be out there in one split second. It just needs to be seen. The instant realization of what is seen will cause laughter, or horror, or both, with no way to escape.
Cartoon by Tjeerd Royaards, available here on the Cartoon Movement website.
Whether presented in one or several images, political cartoons deliver one truth about a situation. The truth of the cartoonist, of the artist behind the pen, his or her perception of the situation. The slogan of The Cartoon Movement: “There is more than one truth”, sums it up really well. The contribution by political cartoons to a debate on Peace and Justice go through the multitude of viewpoints the images bring. And these viewpoints need not be explained in words. One image, or one idea, suffices.
The debate to come within the Peace and Justice will therefore be rich of the students’ perspectives. Ten of those will be displayed in The Hague in September 2014, ten contributions to the debate on international peace and justice. So stay tuned!