Around the world, people have shown solidarity for the victims and survivors of the attacks on Charlie Hebdo, but the Finnish Cartoon Society has had a much harder time finding a venue to host their own tribute exhibit “Minä olen Charlie” (“I am Charlie”). Due to security concerns as well as the recent attack at a Copenhagen cafe, the exhibition was dishearteningly forced to close on three previous occasions. After much discussion with library directors about, though, the exhibit has finally found a home at the Kallio Library, where it is planned to run for two weeks.
Featuring single editions of the Charlie Hebdo magazines as well as the work of noted Finnish cartoonists such as Pertti Jarla and Milla Palloniemi, the Cartoon Society’s exhibit is designed to not only stand in solidarity and show respect for their fallen colleagues, but once again demonstrate the necessity and importance of freedom of expression.
The owners of the buildings in which the Finnish exhibit had been hosted had asked for the closure of the exhibit over fear of reprisals. Although institutions around the world, such as the Victoria and Albert Museum in England, are struggling with the desire to display controversial exhibits but fear potential community backlash, an institution holds up the tenants of free expression and provides a space for open discourse when it refuses to give in to fear and censorship. While the Kallio Library will obviously take precautions for its own security, they should be commended for hosting the exhibition instead of submitting to self-censorship.
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Contributing Editor Caitlin McCabe is an independent comics scholar who loves a good pre-code horror comic and the opportunity to spread her knowledge of the industry to those looking for a great story!