|Liberta di stampa in Turchia - Ismail Dogan.|
Interview of Ismail DOGAN 17th of December 2017
By Francisco Punal Suarez
İsmail Doğan is a Belgian-turkish artist. He has been reported several times for his political cartoons.
Press cartoonist Belgium political cartoonist of Turkish origin, he created the bilingual satiric newspaper Kardaş . Participated to numerous national and international satirical cartoons competitions and collaborate since many years to the Turkish speaking press in Belgium. Artistic animator of the non-profit association « Coin d’Art » in Brussels, where he teach caricature and calligraphy.
Why do you like to make cartoons?
Because the best words, I can communicate them by drawings. Because, I have a lot to say and messages to convey in this society based on profit and inequality. With caricature, not only do I express my vision, but also, I travel with my pen around the world and I try to highlight what is hidden in the shadows. I still have the chance to make fun of, to put the powerful in ridiculous situations, to denounce all those who run the states, who hold the world economic powers unjustly. Sometimes, it's better to have a good drawing than a good speech ... For me, there is no better weapon than the pen against the oppressors and the profiteers.
What studies have you done?
It can be said that my study did not last long because, when the family immigrated to Belgium as political refugees because of the problems my father lived in our country, I was only 13 years old. Arrived in Belgium, I did not speak the language of the country. I had to adapt and it took a few years. I lost a lot of time in handicraft schools, because I had no idea that there were arts schools. Moreover, in Belgium there was a tendency to direct foreigners to schools of this kind without distinction of our other possible abilities. Until the day when a professor of religion seeing me drawing constantly in his class, made me understand that my place was not in this school, but in an artistic academy. I was 19 years old at the time and it was the first time I heard the word "academy". Intrigued and surprised by these words, I decided a good day to venture to the Academy of Fine Arts in Brussels with all that I had drawn in hands. I just wanted to know what I was worth and wanted to hear an opinion from a director of the Academy. But in the meantime, as we were rather poor, I was working partly as a letterer. I decorated the shop windows of my neighbourhood, and with that, I could already earn enough money to survive. Finally, the director of the Academy of Fine Arts not only agreed to accept me in the Academy, but he also directly enrolled me in the 3rd year. But the problem was that there was no cartoon lessons but only comics, advertising, etc. .Finally I chose advertising because I felt comfortable with the creation it required and I decided to enrol in evening classes, because during the day, I had to work to provide for my needs. Later, with the arrival of computers, I perfected myself in creation by taking full-time courses in graphic design and illustration. Thanks to this training I was able to work for many years in the Turkish press as a graphic designer. But although self-taught in this domain, I never dropped my pen as caricaturist. After a year of unemployment, I decided to create a bilingual satirical monthly newspaper (in Turkish and French) called "KARDAS" which means "brother" which was published for two years.
This adventure allowed me to create with my brother our own non-profit association “Con d’Art” in Anderlecht (Brussels), mainly for disadvantaged young people, to give them the artistic vocation (course of caricature, design and calligraphy) while taking the art on the street, which was our main goal.
Where have you published your drawings?
In Belgium, I worked for at least 4 years for the Turkish press, distributed ten thousand copies a day throughout Belgium. Then, my drawings have appeared in several media in Europe, in various magazines or on Internet sites. One of my drawings, on Obama, in 2009, was selected among the 50 best finalists in Europe, and published in the album "Press Cartoon Belgium". Through the Internet, my drawings have been bought by several newspapers. Following many criticisms, censures and threats that I received for the political and cultural positions expressed in my caricatures, I stopped working for the press and devoted myself freely to my drawings without self-censorship. Since then, I draw every day and comment the news on my Facebook page, my twitter account and on my blog:
From when are you producing cartoons and how did pass from advertising to political cartoons ?
I have been drawing practically since the 90's. As I explained earlier, I liked advertising because there was the word "creation". But, in fact, advertising is at the service of the lie to sell more and more products, without worrying about others and consumers. That's what bothered me. I was in Belgium now, but I was also following the news of my country of origin, Turkey. And there, they imprison and they still kill journalists, intellectuals, artists, etc. I could not remain insensitive to such a situation ... we can say that it is not me who choose the caricature but it is the caricature which took me by the pen :).
What themes do you deal with in your cartoons?
The daily national (Belgian ... and Turkish) and international news, simply ... Not to mention that I'm very interested in what happens in my country of origin and therefore dedicate to it a lot of my energy. I see it as a necessity to resist against what is going on there.
Since when do you live exiled from Turkey? Where you live now?
Since 1976, my family and I have been refugees in Belgium because my father was tortured in Turkish prisons because of his leftist political ideas. So for 41 years now, we live in Brussels.
How do you rate the actions of the Erdogan government?
At first we all thought maybe he could change a few things. But we soon realized that he was a populist, a reactionary and a conservative who used people's beliefs for his electoral and personal gains. Now, for more than 15 years of power he became totalitarian, and wants to establish a despotic and fascist regime, oppressing, by all means in its power, all those who resist against him, including political refugees in Europe or citizens of Turkish origin who acquired a European country nationality in. I experienced this directly at the ‘Internazionale’ journalism Festival in Ferrara, end of September, during which the Turkish journalist, Can Dündan, a political refugee in Germany, had to be evacuated in secret so as not to be arrested following a Interpol warrant of arrest issued by Erdogan's services. Fortunately, he was able to escape and I had to replace him for a lecture he was to give to students on "Freedom of Expression in Turkey". The blog of the site of the center LIBREXPRESSION (www.libex.eu), of which I am a member of the Scientific Council, tells in detail what happened and asks the question of the abuse of Interpol arrest warants, by the dictatorial regimes and particularly by that of Erdogan.
What about censorship in Turkey?
Censorship exists in all areas and in all social strata of society: whether in the media, in institutions, trade unions, etc. It can be said that Turkey is a country that has always experienced censorship, sometimes less, sometimes more ... And here we are in the most rather than the least.
Why is humour and satire important in society?
There is a beautiful quote from Berthold Brecht: "Living in a place where humour is absent is very difficult and boring. But it is impossible to live in a place where everything is transformed into humour". And what John Lennon said: "The only things where tyrants do not know how to deal with are non-violent acts and humour.” And, for me, there is no better weapon than caricature to fight, even at the cost of repression, because "it is the weapon of the smiling thought".
È un artista belga di origini turche, fondatore del giornale satirico bilingue Kardaş. Ha partecipato a diversi concorsi per vignette politiche, nazionali e internazionali, e da anni collabora con la stampa belga in lingua turca. È stato varie volte denunciato per il suo lavoro.
Relation d·interet - Ismail Dogan
LIBERTE D'EXPRESSION - Ismail Dogan
Le sultan - Ismail Dogan.
La justice - Ismail Dogan.
jaws - Ismail Dogan.
Evolution - Ismail Dogan.
Crash finance - Ismail Dogan.
Terrorismo turco - Ismail Dogan.
Omaggio a Magritte - Ismail Dogan.
Lo scorso 30 settembre Ismail Dogan ha partecipato a Ferrara al Festival dell'Internazionale ed ha parlato della libertà dei cartoons in Turchia con Tom Tomorrow e Ramses
Ne parla anche Ismail Doğan, che nelle sue vignette ha un approccio molto più duro. Ha un nemico molto violento e l’unico modo per affrontarlo è usando la matita come arma. Il suo nemico si chiama Erdogan. Il vignettista denuncia il doppio gioco che il dittatore ingaggia con ISIS e Europa. Ma la satira di Doğan si rivolge anche all’estremismo religioso, alle indicazioni “halal” sul sesso e all’assenza di libertà delle donne nel Paese da cui è dovuto scappare. “In Belgio mostrano in TV le mie vignette; in Turchia le avrei disegnate sui muri della prigione” osserva Doğan, che non è sfuggito alle minacce nemmeno in terra belga, dove è presente una comunità turca molto numerosa.
Internazionale a Ferrara 2017 - Ismail Dogan intervistato da Valeria Manieri con Thierry Vissol che funge da interprete. Thierry Vissol è il direttore del Centro LIBREXPRESSION