One year ago, on January 7, 2015, terrorism attacked freedom of expression with the assault on the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo. The slogan “Je suis Charlie” became ubiquitous. All of Europe showed its solidarity with France. Many citizens living in capital cities placed garlands of flowers in front of the French embassies. The European media reproduced caricatures as a show of solidarity.
European cultural organizations hold on to the belief in the freedom of expression, and refuse to avoid difficult topics. Four caricaturists accepted our invitation to participate in a discussion about these questions: Steven Degryse (LECTTRR) from Belgium, Ann Telnaes (The Washington Post), Kevin Kallaugher (The Economist), Matt Wuerker (Politico).
In cooperation with the Embassy of Belgium and the House of Flanders, New York.
This Iconoclash program was also supported by the Delegation of the European Union to the United States, the British Council, the Embassy of Slovenia, the Austrian Cultural Forum, the Goethe-Institut, EUNIC and New York University.
The freedom which was accepted throughout Europe after the Peace of Westphalia (1648) and which formed the core of liberalism is being seriously threatened today. For whoever avails himself of the freedom upon which our ability to express and accept criticism is based may face the threat of death as a result. Withstanding this challenge and finding institutions that continue to protect this freedom is an imminently urgent task. We are confronted with a fundamental shift in thinking: freedom of expression can cost lives. Time will tell what consequences this has – will there be an image policy to prevent conflicts? Or will we maintain our position in editorial departments, at universities, in art and politics?
Lectrr (Steven Degryse) is a Belgian cartoonist, best known for his daily political cartoons in De Standaard. Over the past decade he has been publishing all over Europe, both as an editorial cartoonist and as a syndicated single panel cartoonist, in magazines such as Helsingsborgs Dagblad (Sweden), Prospect Magazine (UK), Nieuwe Revu (The Netherlands), Veronica Magazine (The Netherlands), Kretèn (Hungary) and many others. His work has been published in over ten languages and 15 books. Lectrr is a member of the jury in Knokke-Heist, the oldest cartoon festival in the world, and was nominated multiple times for the Press Cartoon Belgium and the Press Cartoon Europe awards.
Kevin Kallaugher (KAL) is the international award-winning editorial cartoonist for The Economist magazine of London and The Baltimore Sun. In a distinguished career that spans 37 years, Kal has created over 8,000 cartoons and 140 magazine covers. His resumé includes six collections of his published work, including his celebrated anthology of Economist cartoons titled Daggers Drawn (2013). In 2015, KAL was awarded the Grand Prix for Cartoon of the Year in Europe, the Herblock Prize for Cartoonist of the Year in the US and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Editorial Cartooning. In 1999, The World Encyclopedia of Cartoons said of Kevin "Commanding a masterful style, Kallaugher stands among the premier caricaturists of the (twentieth) century."
Ann Telnaes creates animated editorial cartoons and a blog of print cartoons, animated gifs, and sketches for the Washington Post. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 2001 for her print cartoons. Telnaes’ print work was shown in a solo exhibition at the Great Hall in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in 2004. Her first book, Humor’s Edge, was published in 2004. A collection of Vice President Cheney cartoons, Dick, was self-published by Telnaes and Sara Thaves in 2006. Her work has also been exhibited in Paris, Jerusalem, and Lisbon.
Matt Wuerker is the staff cartoonist for POLITICO. Part of the team that launched POLITICO in 2006, he provides editorial cartoons, illustrations, caricatures and Web animations for both the print and Web platforms of the publication. Over the past 35 years, Matt’s cartoons have been used widely in publications that range from dailies like the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post and the Christian Science Monitor to magazines such as Newsweek, the Nation and the Smithsonian. He won a Pulitzer Prize in 2012. In 2010, he was awarded the Herblock Prize at the Library of Congress, and the National Press Foundation’s Berryman Award.