Congratulations to the winners of the 4. Niels Bugge Cartoon Award

Niels Bugge Cartoon Award 2016

Utopia

Humour can turn into grave seriousness. There is no doubt about that after the Danish Cartoon-crisis of 2005 and 2006, or after the assassination of the members of the staff at Charlie Hebdo in January 2015. However, we have known this for almost two hundred years, since Honoré Daumier was incarcerated for half a year in the Sainte-Pélagie Prison in Paris in 1832, because of his caricature of the king Louis Philippe, drawn as the immensely greedy giant Gargantua. The punishment did not stop Daumier’s pen. On the contrary: He earned a living by drawing portraits of his fellow prisoners. The same applies to the cartoonists of our own days, who have not been intimidated to abandon pen or pencil – quite the contrary in fact!

Humour cannot be explained. Efforts to do so most often reveal that the person in question does not have any sense of humour! Humour is, however, among other things, the ability to forgive, because its precondition is the ability to see life events from different points of view. Humour and fanaticism are diametrically opposed. The assassins in Paris January 7, 2015 and in Copenhagen February 14 and 15, 2015 understood this point completely. Tragically, they drew the wrong conclusions.

Across national, religious and cultural borders it is, however, still possible to exchange points of view concerning the serious questions of life in a humorous way. A clear example of this is the – for the fourth year running – international Niels Bugge Cartoon Award. Some of the crucial issues that our world is facing, for instance hunger and overconsumption, water resources and pollution, difference and inequality, have been handled through the topics ‘To eat or not to eat’ (2013), ‘Oceans in our hands’ (2014) and ‘Equal in diversity’ (2015).

‘Utopia’, the topic of this year, has since Thomas More’s publication in 1516 had its etymologically correct translation as ‘The place that doesn’t exist’, a combination of ou (Greek for ‘not’) and topos (‘place’). During the last 500 years, i.e. since Thomas More’s own epilogue to the work, the word has obtained a different meaning – which corresponds to the meaning that most of us understand when we hear the word today, that is: ‘The place that is good’, that is eu (‘good’) and topos.

Is it the conclusion that the good place doesn’t exist? No. The many contributions to the contest from cartoonists all over the world abundantly demonstrate that Utopia exists – in our imagination. During the latest century of the history of the world, we have learned that utopian ideas can, in the hands of fanatics – i.e. when the end justifies any means – degenerate to its own cruel contrast: Dystopia.

Only when Utopia is united with humour, there is hope.

Humor kan forvandle sig til ramme alvor. Det kan ingen være i tvivl om siden Karikaturkrisen i 2005-06 eller siden mordet på Charlie Hebdo’s medarbejdere i januar 2015. Men vi har vidst det, lige siden Honoré Daumier i 1832, for snart to hundrede år siden, måtte sidde et halvt år i Sainte-Pélagie-fængslet for sin karikatur af borgerkonge Louis Philippe, tegnet som den mådeløst grådige kæmpe Gargantua. Straffen fik heldigvis ikke Daumier til at lægge pennen, tværtimod skaffede han sig et udkomme ved at tegne sine medfanger. Heller ikke vor tids tegnere har ladet sig skræmme til at lægge blyant og pensel fra sig – tværtimod. 

Humor kan ikke forklares – de fleste forsøg på det afslører netop mangel på humoristisk sans. Men blandt andet er humor evnen til at tilgive, fordi det forudsætter evnen til at se verdens tildragelser fra andre synsvinkler end sin egen. Derfor er humor og fanatisme diametrale modsætninger. Dén pointe havde morderne fra Paris den 7. januar 2015 og fra København den 14. februar 2015 forstået helt rigtigt, men sørgeligt nok draget den forkerte konklusion.

Tværs over nationale, religiøse og kulturelle grænser kan der imidlertid stadig udveksles synspunkter på livets alvorlige spørgsmål i en humoristisk form. Det er også Niels Bugge Cartoon Award nu for fjerde år i træk et tydeligt eksempel på. Nogle af klodens afgørende udfordringer som sult og overforbrug, vandressourcer og forurening, forskelle og ulighed har været behandlet i de forrige års temaer: ’To eat or not to eat’ (2013), ’Oceans in our hands’ (2014) og ’Equal in diversity’ (2015).

’Utopia’, dette års tema, har lige siden Thomas Mores værk i 1516 været etymologisk korrekt oversat til ’Stedet som ikke findes’, sammensætningen af ou (græsk for ’ikke’) plus topos (’sted’) Men lige så længe – nemlig siden Thomas Mores egen epilog til værket – har det også fået tillagt den betydning, de fleste af os nu lægger i det: ’Stedet som er godt’, altså eu (’god’) og topos. Er konklusionen så, at det gode sted ikke findes? Nej. Årets mange bidrag fra tegnere i hele verden viser til overflod,
at Utopia findes – i vores fantasier. Fra de seneste hundrede års verdenshistorie ved vi også, at utopien i fanatikeres hænder – når målet helliger ethvert middel – kan udarte til sin grusomme modsætning: dystopien.

Kun når Utopien forenes med humor er der håb.

Utopia

- have a look at the Jury-members take on this years theme.

Jugoslav Vlahovic

Lars Refn

Bernard Bouton

Marlene Pohle

Riber Hansson

Zoran Petrovic

Peter Nieuwedijk

Carlos Brito

Niels Bugge Cartoon Award 2015

- Equal in diversity

Niels Bugge Cartoon Award 2014

- Oceans in our hands

Niels Bugge Cartoon Award 2013

- to eat or not to eat