Muhammed at the Met

Just like Yale University Press’ disgraceful censorship of Jytte Klausen’s book on the Muhammed cartoons, it seems the august Metropolitan Museum in New York is set to muddy the waters of history by pulling from their display ancient images of the prophet, made by Muslims and considering not putting them back on display once the renovation of the gallery is completed in 2011. Apparently they are also changing the designation of the Islamic Art galleries from the accurately descriptive ‘Islamic’ to a prolix geographical designation.

As I’ve written before, occluding the fact that Muslims have in the past, actually, depicted their prophet is highly problematic in that it feeds attempts by certain parties to write it out of history, in order to bolster an often destructive agenda. As for the change in designation, it strikes me as silly, but also quite disturbing — is ‘Islamic’ now an inflammatory term? Emblematic, perhaps, of how seriously unsettled from our common history we have become by the sad events of the last decade.

Of course, this is all based on a story in the anything but unbiased New York Post, so let’s take it all with a grain of salt for the time being.

Hype: Min Fjerne barndomsby

barndomsby_t.jpgForlaget Fahrenheit udgiver i morgen den første manga for voksne på dansk, Jiro Taniguchis Min fjerne barndomsby. Det fejres med en reception i Thimers Magasin, Tullinsgade 24, København, kl. 16.30-18.00. Oversætter Mette Holm vil sige et par ord om arbejdet med oversættelsen og forlægger Paw Mathiasen om selve udgivelsen af en japansk tegneserie. Mød op og læs endelig tegneserien — den er fremragende!
Læs mere om udgivelsen på Fahrenheits hjemmeside, og check undertegnedes anmeldelse af en række værker af Taniguchi, inkl. Min fjerne barndomsby, fra 2003 ovre på Rackham.

Danish Comics of the Year/Planet Comics 2009

For this year’s wrap-up season, Paul Gravett repeats last year’s great idea of asking comics connoisseurs and professionals all over the world to write a few words on the year’s most notable comics from their respective country. He graciously asked me to talk about the best in Danish comics, so my selections appear in part one, now online, along with ones from Australia, Germany, Switzerland, Austria, Italy, & Sweden. Stay tuned for the followup.

Here’s my selection, by the way:

Rapspot’s 2009 Rap-Up

As per tradition over at, us contributors have curated our annual awards show for our favorite hip hop music of the past year, plus miscellaneous foolishness. Although I can’t say many of my personal favourites made it to the final list, it’s still a pretty great compilation of quality hip hop music released in 2009, so skip over there and check it out. Meanwhile I’ll try to get my act together a write about my year of listening. Or just listen to the track of the year, from the Mighty Mos Def.

David Levine RIP

levine_nixon_lbj_vietnam.gifI just briefly wanted to pay homage to the recently passed master cartoonist. Possibly the most recognisable caricaturist of the past 40 years, Levine has come almost to incarnate the discipline, especially with his withering cartoons of the main players in the Nixon administration and of other unsavoury world leaders of that era.

Contrary to assertions I’ve heard made, he was far from single-mindedly, or even reductively, acerbic (his most vicious caricatures are indeed pretty fierce, but are also animated by the kind of outrage necessary to political cartooning); he was rather a finely rounded cartoonist. His portraits are more often than not reverent, humanising their subjects with humor and verve. With thousands of such cartoons under his belt (most of them for the New York Review of Books) he ranks, rather, amongst the most significant portraitists of the last forty years.

Read Michael Kimmelman’s appreciation here.

The First Piece of Bad News

I didn’t take long for the New Year’s first piece of crap news to arrive here. Some idiot broke into the home of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard wielding an axe, evidently in “retaliation” for the latter’s cartoon of the prophet Muhammed. The cartoonist saved himself by fleeing to the house’s panic room. His grandchild was also there. The police thereafter arrived and disabled the attacker with shots to the leg and hand, and he has now been charged with attempted murder and is recovering in the medical wing of the prison Vestre fængsel, Ã…rhus. Congratulations asshole, you’ve just made the world a little less tolerable a place to live.

For what little it’s worth, our sympathies and best wishes and hopes for a peaceful rest of the new year go out to Westergaard and his family.

Above: one of the infamous cartoons (not by Westergaard); prescient at the time, painfully topical now.