The morning after a tribute for the victims of the attack on Charlie Hebdo in Geneva. Photo by J. Fall.
The horror of the shooting at the editorial office of Charlie Hebdo, in Paris, on the 7th of January, 2015, is barely subsiding. Nobody yet knows what this means for the future, beyond the immediate numb shock that turned into moving city-wide silent vigils around the world. New powerful images emerged of pens held up silently. Dignified, angry and sometimes violent responses. Internet sites are awash with images, drawn and photographed, the purported causes of the violence and the multiple reactions to it. Whether we are lastingly, or not, all “Charlie Hebdo” – as so many Facebook and Twitter profiles proclaim – remains to be seen. Could I truly claim to be as shamelessly vulgar, funny, sharp, over-the-top, or as irreverently clever and as indomitably brave as them, if I chose to post “Je suis Charlie” as my social media profile picture? Growing up reading the paper, I certainly have had very mixed personal reactions to many of the images, a mixture of prudish shock mixed with admiration for the inventiveness of many of the comics. However, I never doubted that such images that castigated all and sundry should exist. They were simply there: part of the cultural context I was raised in. I knew that I could simply choose to turn the page if I wanted. So beyond the emotion of the events of the past days – or perhaps within and with the emotion – what can we learn about resistance, and about the subversive ability of drawn images to speak truth to power? How can the transgressive, uncomfortable and funny sides of comics be exploited to resist the madness, other than by suggesting that the pen, or crayon or felt-tip pen, are mightier than the sword, or than the ubiquitously horrible Kalashnikov. How can we resist with careful images without, as David Campbell put on it on his Twitter feed, “weaponising” other mediums?
Continue reading here.