Some German illustrators and cartoonists are very distinct about this: „Dresden isn't funny (anymore)!“ They have launched a campaign that clearly states their opposition towards a growing misanthropy in Germany in the face of a global refugee crisis. Alongside Dresden's daily newspaper, Sächsischen Zeitung, they have decided to use this year's German Caricature Award to support a special project launched by the city's "Council for Foreign Residents".
Comic books and politics - it is a combination that doesn't often go together in Germany. Take one quick glance at other countries, for example some Arabic States, and you might soon realize that this kind of "genre development" usually requires a certain "culture & society", where artist really do find it necessary to take a stand against regimes or dictators. Deploring the serious social or political deficits of their country however comes at a price. These artists often run the gauntlet.
In Germay it is mostly the genre of caricature that has taken it on itself to utter critique. Most German daily newspapers feature renowned artist in their news department, providing funny, classic and yet pointed illustrative "comments" of all sorts. Among them are people such as Austrian caricaturist Horst Haitzinger or Klaus Stuttmann, who has become famous for his trade mark acid-tongued comments on regional and world politics that he tends to dish out with a huge portion of black humour.
Dresden's daily, Sächsische Zeitung, has been honouring the genre of caricature for quite some time now, awarding the German Caricature Award each year. In 2015 the prize will be handed over for the 16th time in a row by a jury made up of a number of well-respected German media representatives.
Themed "We're a joke!", the competition asked artists to take a pointed look at "The Germans" after 25 years as a reunited nation. It really comes as no surprise that many submissions were dealing with recent political and sociopolitical developments that have transpired in Germany within the last few months.
218 German, Austrian and Swiss artists submitted 976 drawings in total. Next to a number of well respected members of the trade, such as BECK, Til Mette or Klaus Stuttmann, many newcomers, rising stars and young artists submitted their work.
Members of the jury were asked to utter their personal and subjective opinion, but also had to stick to formal criteria when judging the contestants. Determining this year's winners required several votes. Their identity will remain a big secret until they are announced on November 15th at Dresden's playhouse. During a matinée they will be awarded a gold, silver or bronze "Winged Pencil" and prize money amounting up to a total sum of 11,000 Euro.
Following this event, all the works will be displayed at Dresden's Haus der Presse (Press Hall) and Galerie Komische Meister in a exhibitions that start November 16, 2015 and will be open to the public until January 30, 2016. Three days later Deutschordensmuseum at Bad Megentheim (in the South West of Germany) will open a third exhibition displaying the best submissions of 2015.
Sächsischen Zeitung has been handing out the German Caricature Award since 2000. It has developed into one of the most prominent accolades for artists of German-speaking countries in Europe. (You can find more informationen and an gallery featuring works of preceding competitions here: www.deutscherkarikaturenpreis.)
This year something was different though: Many artists decided, not to be content with simply drawing and commenting on the current situation. They decided to utilize the "German Caricature Award" by adding their own motto: "Illustrators taking a stand." This special campaign wants to help asylum-seekers in Dresden in a very practical way.
Anyone is invited to help: Until November 6, people get a chance to acquire signed, high quality prints of their favourite artist's work at Edition SZ's online shop (www.editionsz.de). 43 works are avaliable for a price of 50 Euro each. They will be printed in A3-format and sent out to their new owners starting November 16th. Revenues will benefit a project launched by Dresden's Council for Foreign Residents and help kids and teens who had been living at Zeltstadt Bremer Straße - a tent city set up in the summer to house refugees. All residents have currently been moved to quaters better suitable for the coming winter.
With their campaign, participating cartoonists are conveying a clear message: „Dresden isn't funny (anymore)!“ They surely aren't alone in this. Not only has the city been THE place where the German Caricature Award was born and has been handed over for years - it is also a culturally rich and distinguished place where democracy is highly valued. Let's keep it that way.
This article has been modified Oct 23, 2015. In our preceding version we only mentioned the Exhibition at Dresden's Press Hall.