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Looking back How Swiss cartoonists saw 2019

For caricaturists, it’s hard to top the absurdity of a president wanting to buy another country. Here’s how Swiss political cartoonists illustrated 2019.

The crazy, the bizarre and the absurd: it’s “The New Normal” in today’s politics, remarked Brazilian journalist Daniela Pinheiro at a debate held as part of the 20th anniversary celebration of SWI swissinfo.ch. Illustrators in Switzerland and around the world have had ample material to work with.

Felix Schaad drew US President Donald Trump, who sits pouting at the table like a child because he can’t have Greenland. But there's a solution, he is told - another island is "cheap and available": Britain. So he brings in Prime Minister Boris Johnson, standing in the doorway with the Union Jack.

The reality, however, is far less harmless. This also applies to the masters of the sharp pen, who counter and expose any absurdity of the “strong men” with an even greater absurdity.

For example, the work of Patrick Chappatte – the undisputed number one political commentator in Switzerland – will no longer appear in the international edition of The New York Times. Earlier this year, one of his colleagues sparked such a virulent debate with an illustration that the newspaper decided to drop political cartoons from its offering altogether.

It was Chappatte who made the decision public. In an article for SWI swissinfo.ch, Chappatte described what the newspaper’s departure from the medium of caricature signalled for him.

So this amusing review of the political year 2019 has a bitter aftertaste. Namely that the air is getting thinner for the free spirits like Chappatte, who are indispensable for a democracy.

 

An illustrated year-in-review is on display at the Museum of Communicationexternal link in Bern until February 9, 2020. 

In the exhibition Gezeichnet 2019external link, around 50 illustrators from all over Switzerland are exhibiting over 200 works.

The exhibition is under the patronage of the Swiss satirical magazine Nebelspalterexternal link and is expected to attract several thousand visitors over the course of the year.

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