Exhibition: Food for Peace and Justice
In September 2019, artist and cartoonist Vikram Nayak, organised a cartoon competition in support of Jai Jagat 2020, a Peace walk from Delhi to Geneva. The walk was a campaign to raise awareness of issues of Peace and Justice that the United Nations is still struggling to resolve. The Cartoon Competition became a fine instrument of animation in Jai Jagat’s tool kit.
There was a massive response to Vikram’s callout with around 1,400 submissions from 80 nations, 150 of which were selected for exhibition and publication. Some of the competitors were from countries such as Iran and Serbia that were on Jai Jagat’s route, Others lived in nations that have experienced conflict for decades. It is not too surprising, that such artists were particularly interested in putting their talents at the service of exploring causes and effects of violence, in the interests of achieving a just peace.
In this exhibition we have cherry-picked cartoons that feature food to expose ways in which conflict is maintained; there is the misuse of land and water, food insecurity, unequal access to nutrition and the effects of man made climate change on disadvantaged communities. They may make uncomfortable viewing, but the cartoons provoke thoughts about what needs to be done, individually and collectively, for us all to move towards a life that is both just and peaceful.
Where a thousand words cannot properly express a difficult subject and the resulting pain, a single image can sum it up. For me there was always a simple solution to making cartoons – you take any subject to the world of imagination and add some satire to it. In the course of this contest, as cartoon entries started pouring in, it became clear to me that great cartoons come out of deep experience.
We cartoonists are used to imagining odd situations about world peace, poverty, disharmony, injustice, environment, humanity, but now they seem to connect up and be a part of our lives! What we used to observe and then apply a dose of sarcasm to has now become our daily experience and embedded in our vocabulary. The international cartoon contest started a journey with signposts to crisis and chaos ahead, and a large back pack of questions on the reality of ‘Development’.
It is the weirdest thing that the more disturbed the country, the more creativity springs from its resident artists. It becomes apparent that difficult situations, problems and pain are not confined to the borders of any one country. Write the name of any country on any cartoon, and the story will apply! World wide, humanity is battling the same issues.
Social movements are not just on the streets, but are also in a pen and brush! Artists are central, not peripheral, to social change. To have the movements that make the wave, you need cultural resistance too. I am grateful to all the national and international artists and the jury members who became a part of this initiative for world peace through the strokes of their brushes and their deeply compassionate imaginations.
We work in the belief that our brushes, pens and pencils, by bringing attention to the pain of war, bloodshed, inequality, injustice and the possibility of human extinction, will help us create beautiful countries and a beautiful world in the future, not just as a fantasy, but as a reality!
– Vikram Nayak
Curator – Jai Jagat International Cartoon Competition and Exhibition
Header cartoon: Vikram Nayak, India.
Other cartoons (L-R):