Two Exhibitions as a Prelude to the 150th Birthday of  Else Lasker-Schüler in the Center for Persecuted Arts Solingen

January 20 to March 3, 2019

Kianoush. R like Resistance

In 2009, during the ‘Green Revolution’, Iranian artist Kianoush Ramezani took part in public protest and demonstrations against the obvious fake of the Iranian presidential election. With his cartoons and statements he doubted the official result by which previous office holder Mahmud Ahmadinedschad won the absolute majority of 62.63%. As more and more friends and combatants of the democratic movement were arrested, some of them even being executed, he fled to Paris. Since then he has been living and working there in exile as a political refugee. His critical satirical cartoons are published in international media, such as ‘The Guardian’, ‘Arte’, ‘Courier International’ or ‘Iran Human Rights’.

Kianoush is the founding president of ‘United Sketches’, an international association for freedom of speech, supporting exile cartoonists. His drawings are shown all over the world, whether at the cultural center ‘Corbusier’ in Friminy, France, the ‘Nova Gallery’ Washington/ USA or as part of ‘The Dove of Peace’, an international group exhibition in Tel Aviv, Israel. He was awarded the ‘Culottes au cul’ for his artistic courage at the international Comics Festival in Angouleme, France.

Dana Arieli. Nazi Phantom

For years Israeli artist Dana Arieli has been taking photos of places where Nazi ideology is still visible or concealed. Internationally renowned authors, poets and politicians added texts and statements. You too, the visitors, are invited to write down your opinion, thoughts and feelings and get part of the project. Via the QR codes on the picture labels you can leave comments on Dana Arieli’s homepage. She will collect these messages and include them into her project.

To present her exhibition in the Center for Persecuted Arts Dana Arieli looked for “Nazi Phantom” places in Solingen and North Rhine-Westphalia. In Solingen she discovered the spot where Adolf Eichmann once had lived. The house has been torn down, nowadays the place is a parking lot. The architect of the Holocaust living amongst us as a neighbour – this fact appears in a totally commonplace banality. 

As Dana Arieli explains her project, it is to expose the still existing Nazi architecture and places of the culprits which often are ignored by public. To her, this reflects the difficult handling of the past in the offenders’ native country. German cities follow different strategies to cope with the problem: one is to demolish the buildings, another faces history and keeps it up and a third way defines a new meaning to those locations. Transparent memory is another solution being discussed.

From 2013 to 2018 Dana Arieli has been Dean of Design at the Institute of Technology in Holon, from 2004 to 2012 she led the Department of History and Theories at the Bezalel Academy for Arts and Design in Jerusalem. As a child, her grandmother met Else Lasker-Schüler in Jerusalem. So there is a very personal connection, too.

Ninth Art – Cartooning for Peace

Cartoons about refugees, displacement and human rights

After a very successful start in Solingen, two projects created by the Center for Persecuted Arts are now touring the world: the exhibition “Ninth Art – Cartooning for Peace. Cartoons about refugees, displacement and human rights” and the documentary “Kichka. Life is a Cartoon”, the latter a unique coproduction with the MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art Krakow. In March 2018 the film premiered in Brussels, in May parts of it were presented to the UN in New York, in September it took part in the competition of the Montreal World Film Festival and was shown in Paris and Linz/Austria. Next station will be Mexico-City until March 2019.

The protagonist of the film, Michel Kichka, born 1954 in Seraing / Liège, is a renowned artist and member of the network “Cartooning for Peace”. He lives in Jerusalem. In his graphic novel he describes how the trauma of his father, Holocaust survivor Henri Kichka, born 1926 in Brussels, has affected the entire family. The publication of the graphic novel was the beginning of a long journey through the past and into the future. The film follows father and son during two intense years in Israel, Belgium and France. It includes conversations with “Le Monde” cartoonist Jean “Plantu” Plantureux and Beate and Serge Klarsfeld.

What is the “Ninth Art”?

In his 1971 essay “Pour un neuvième art: La bande dessinée”, French journalist Francis Lacassin added comics and cartoons as the “Ninth Art” to the general canon of art, creating a new generic term. In many countries, especially Belgium and France, the “Ninth Art” is part of high culture – in Germany, however, the acceptance of cartoons as an art form is still rather low. Thanks to its critical spirit, this witty and dynamic genre is often a thorn in the sides of totalitarian rulers. Many cartoonists are subversive and persecuted worldwide.

All Are Migrants – Cartooning for Peace

Since 2014, one and a half million migrants have arrived in Europe. “The refugee crisis is destabilizing Europeans, but it should not mean losing hope of contributing to a better world.” Historian Benjamin Stora challenges us to tackle this migration phenomenon, to see it not as a threat, but as enrichment. Selected by the “Cartooning for Peace” network, 60 international artists trace the long journey of refugees and highlight some of the reasons for people to leave their homes behind and instead live in exile.