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Europeans look at Europeans

Ausstellungstipp: Comic Museum Brüssel
bis zum 21. Oktober 2007

Di.-So.: 10.00-18.00 Uhr
Geschlossen: montags, 01.01., 25.12.

Eintritt: 6,20 €, Gruppen 5 €

Rue des sables 20
B-1000 Brüssel
Tel: 0032-2-219 19 80
Fax: 0032-2-219 23 76

Linktipps bei onlinekunst.de: Comics

Belgische Künstler bei onlinekunst.de

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At the Belgian Comic Strip Centre
From 26 June to 21 October 2007

Europeans look at Europeans
100 international clichés in comic strips

Fifty years after the signing of the Treaty of Rome, the Belgian Comic Strip Centre has decided to get up close and personal with the inhabitants of today's Europe. By delving into the wealth of European comics which has emerged since 1957, "Europeans look at Europeans" tries to answer the following series of interesting questions: How do we view one another ? How do Czech, Dutch or French comic strip artists look at their Polish, Belgian, English and other European neighbours ? In short, the exhibition presented by the Belgian Comic Strip Centre attempts to paint an original and amusing picture of Europeans – by means of comic strips – a picture which combines amusement with serious reflection.

Comic. Illu: Kroll (Belgium)

Illu: Kroll (Belgium) - Größere Ansicht per Klick ins Bild

If you take a look at comic strips throughout Europe, you will soon find that comic strip artists are, more often than not, ordinary citizens like you and me – whether they're Belgian, French, Italian, Romanian, Polish, Dutch, German or Slovenian. Without even realizing it, a comic strip artist incorporates into his stories the same prejudices that permeate the society he lives in. Sometimes, however, the artist will deliberately play around with these clichés to entertain his audience.

A comic strip consists of very few elements: it's a series of images which together make up a story. So despite his storytelling talent, a comic strip author has relatively few means at his disposal to entice his readers into his world. Therefore, to achieve his goal, a comic strip author will sometimes mould his characters around the very same prejudices which ordinary people entertain about these characters. This is particularly the case with humorous and satirical comics. To be able to summarize a character with just a few elements – a physique, an item of clothing, a pipe, a beret, a moustache etc – presents authors with a continuing challenge, but one which allows them to come quickly to the point: the story.

Comic. Illu: Marc Sleen (Belgium)

Illu: Marc Sleen (Belgium) - Größere Ansicht per Klick ins Bild

Of course, Europeans look at Europeans does not intend to draw up an inventory of these clichés, nor does it aim to present the entire comic strip production of the twenty-seven member states of the European Union. On the contrary, by delving into this enormous creative treasury, the exhibition by the Belgian Comic Strip Centre would like to suggest that visitors stop for a moment to think about a selection of 100 well-known clichés and prejudices, and to look at the often amusing ways in which comic strip artists have used these clichés in their work. The only criterion for inclusion in this selection was that the authors must not have the same nationality as the object of the cliché.

It is becoming easier for the inhabitants of Europe to come into contact with one another, thanks to the lifting of borders, the latest means of communication and the democratization of travel. Yet the clichés and prejudices which Europeans have about each another are proving very difficult to eradicate. If even within the same country the inhabitants of two regions can entertain such strong prejudices, what to think then of the inhabitants of different countries ? In the course of this exhibition, visitors will undoubtedly find that the first thing all Europeans have in common is precisely this collection of prejudices which they have about each another ! And rather than confirming these prejudices, from now on we choose to make fun of these clichés instead…

10 chapter headings of the exhibition

They wear their identity on their sleeve

Without making generalizations, it must be said that Italians are short, Belgians rather chubby and Germans reserved.

Everybody knows that Swedish women are blonde, Irish women redheads and Spanish women raven-haired.

And it's a fact that the French are instantly recognizable by their berets, the Maltese by their famous cross and the Polish by their catholic persuasion.

Illu: Jacovitti (Italy)

Comic: Illu: Jacovitti (Italy)

They can be quite surprising

Without making generalizations, it must be said that Luxembourgers are very careful, Hungarians less canny than their neighbours and Estonians painfully slow. The Spanish are arrogant, Lithuanians nervous and the Czech too serious. We also know that the Dutch, Greeks, Rumanians and Italians are dangerous drivers. Moreover, it's a fact that they're unrivalled when it comes to causing chaos.

Do you call this food?

Without making generalizations, it must be said that Belgians only eat fries with mayonnaise and the French will only consume unpasteurized cheese and frog's legs. The English, on the other hand, haven't a clue about good food. The Dutch eat live fish, Cypriots feed on mezze and Bulgarians relish yoghurt with cucumber. And it's a fact that Italians pass on pizzamaking from father to son.

They can hold their drink

Without making generalizations, it must be said that the Polish thrive on beer, the English on Scottish whisky, Italians on cheap red wine, the French on old Bordeaux and the Irish on beer… just like the Czech, Danes, Belgians and, of course, Luxembourgers. Germans even drink it by the litre. And it's a fact that the Dutch drink hot chocolate with their mussels.

Folklore is never far away

Without making generalizations, it must be said that Bulgarian singing can compete with the best alpine choirs, the French worship the accordeon, Germans adore oberbayern music and Spanish women dance the flamenco while their men are out slaughtering bulls. Austrians have learnt how to yodel to be able to communicate with their neighbours. And it's a fact that Swedish women love to play with fire during Saint Lucia.

Comic. Illu: Claire Bretecher (France)

Illu: Claire Bretecher (France) - Größere Ansicht per Klick ins Bild

They have some bizarre customs

Without making generalizations, it must be said that the Spanish are hot-blooded, the French are born seducers – even if they don't wash every day – the Swedish are a bit clumsy and Danes are very liberated. Hungarian and Czech women are pretty and not at all prudish, whereas Rumanian women are more reserved. And it's a fact that Italians will only ever love one woman: their mamma.

Let's assume that they do work

Without making generalizations, it must be said that Polish plumbers have conquered Europe and that the best au pairs are Swedish. The Czech and the Dutch have a good nose for business but it's the Irish who first coined the phrase 'business'. Danes are creative, Italians are perpetually on sick leave while the Maltese are born salesmen. And it's a fact that the French are always on strike.

Comic. Illu: Ciubotaru (Rumania)

Illu: Ciubotaru (Rumania) - Größere Ansicht per Klick ins Bild

They can't be trusted

Without making generalizations, it must be said that the greatest number of crooks can be found among foreigners. For example, Italians are quite likeable but they're also thieves. If they're not downright maffiosi. Just like the Rumanians. And Bulgarians are excellent spies. But it's a fact that the real experts in dirty tricks are to be found all over the mediterranean – both east and west.

They're defined by their Past

Without making generalizations, it must be said that Belgians are the result of a Historical accident, and that Hungarians are brothers of the Polish and cousins of the Austrians. Danes still yearn for their Viking days, although their longships are preserved in Sweden. And it's a fact that the French are convinced they invented the rights of man, Austrians have a short memory and Bulgarians think that they're the centre of Europe.

They remain themselves wherever they go

Without making generalizations, it must be said that although the Dutch sleep in caravans and are proficient in many languages, they're penny-pinchers. Just like the Scottish. Germans are a bit bavarian on holiday, whereas the French always act as if they were at home. It's a fact that if you were to let them – whether in Vilnius, Tallinn or Riga – they would pay for their glass of red with a cheque.



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