Persecuted cartoonists from around the world will be in the spotlight this month when London’s Westminster Reference Library hosts the exhibition “Gagged,” featuring “cartoons about censorship and repression of cartoonists from around the world.” The free exhibit will be on display from Nov. 21 – Dec. 1.
“Gagged” is coordinated by the UK’s Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation (PCO), Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRNI), and Index on Censorship. In addition to the exhibit open daily Monday – Saturday, events will also include a Nov. 25 workshop with cartoonists Banx and The Surreal McCoy, and a Nov. 28 talk with cartoonist Andy Davey and Index CEO Jodie Ginsberg. Both scheduled events are also free, but prospective attendees should register via the Eventbrite links above.
In a post on PCO’s website, the group’s chair Bill Stott describes the objective of the exhibit:
Repressive governments the world over fear cartoonists. Cartoonists get straight to the point. Images remain in the public eye longer than do acres of type. Whilst we in the UK and Europe generally accept often excoriating depictions of our leaders, this is definitely not the case in the rest of the world. Here, politicians actually applaud critical and often insulting drawings of themselves, sometimes even assembling personal collections thereof. Not so elsewhere. In at least one verified instance, a foreign cartoonist was visited by government agents and had his hands broken. Doubtless there are others. Repressive governments, fearful of the truth, regularly imprison cartoonists.
The Professional Cartoonists’ Organisation [UK] works with other agencies – in this instance alongside Cartoonists’ Rights Network International and Index on Censorship – to try to bring the plight of persecuted cartoonists to the fore. This exhibition seeks to do that. Whilst it is not easy to highlight a repressive government’s treatment of any given cartoonist because that government will often react by threatening the cartoonist’s family and friends, any and all proceeds from this exhibition will go towards trying to alleviate the conditions many cartoonists the world over have to live with.’
“Gagged” will be open to the public at the Westminster Reference Library, 35 St Martin’s St, London WC2H 7HP. See PCO’s site for the full schedule and contact information.
And for cartooning fans on this side of the pond, remember you can also catch “Drawn to Purpose: American Women Illustrators and Cartoonists” at the Library of Congress starting Nov. 18!
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Contributing Editor Maren Williams is a reference librarian who enjoys free speech and rescue dogs.