Editorial cartoons belong to the public. What better place for them, then, than a museum? This is why we organised the first European Cartoon Award exhibition, which opened on September 22 at Beeld & Geluid in The Hague.
We are used to seeing editorial cartoons in print, in newspapers or magazines, or online, on social media and in online publications. But there are many other venues that are perfect for hosting this kind of visual satire. Museums, for example. And what an impression a well-crafted cartoon can make, when its size can be the same as the one of a painting!
Our Head of Comms Emanuele Del Rosso, with cartoonist Harry Burton and journalist Janet Anderson
40 cartoons tell us the story of the past year
The European Cartoon Award received, this year, over 400 submissions, but only one-tenth of them made it to our annual exhibition.
Those 40 cartoons, the longlist of the ECA 2022, cover the most diverse topics: the Afghanistan war, women’s rights, Covid-19, Trump, abortion rights, migration, war, and much more. This corpus of editorial cartoons tells us about our recent history, about the many stories that we read about, talked about, and most likely worried about, in the last year.
If it is true that journalism is the “first rough draft of history,” cartoons are the “first rough laugh of history,” and laughing is often a coping mechanism that is crucial to process what happens around us.
Museums are only the beginning
We decided to organize a cartoons exhibition because museums are an excellent starting point, an incubator.
We believe that conversations on important topics, issues and ideas that affect our cultural spaces, can start in front of an editorial cartoon. It can then escape the rooms of a museum — exactly like it can leave the pages of a newspaper — and move from mouth to mouth, from brain to brain, fly into the streets and propagate a message.
This is the power of freedom of speech.