Eleni Kamma
"Why relooking at caricature today ?"

Kamma Eleni

(Porteur : ArBA-EsA)

Eleni Kamma’s research project, initiated with the support of a / r, looks at the reasons motivating a historical re-reading and analysis of the issues at stake in caricature, from within the current political and artistic context. The artist is, in parallel, writing a thesis entitled Taking Place: Parrhesiastic theatre as a model for artistic practice. Parrhesia, from the ancient Greek παρρησία (“speak freely”), can be interpreted to mean free speech as in the liberty of expression, or even the obligation to speak truths for the common good, at the risk of exposing oneself personally and publicly. The artist uses this concept as a way to question the notion of entertainment as it relates to personal expression, within the framework of an artistic practice that is closely aligned with public participation.

The project Why relooking at Caricature today? is divided into three distinct axes, each with its own specific methodology. The first aims to retrace the history of Belgian caricature, which has steadily flourished since the nineteenth century, through a series of plastic and literary works studied within museum institutions and the archives of Brussels, in order to discern their main subversive effects. The artist also proposes to explore the city in search of traces and evidence of caricature left on the city, in urban spaces, as well as through its various folkloric expressions, notably during the Carnival. The second axis involves looking closely at the stance of politicians on contemporary caricature, through social networks and television, at a time of “fake news” or “post-truth” (ex. Donald Trump, Brexit). Rather than reveal truths, caricature distorts it, dresses it up to deflect attention from real issues, all while serving the populist and demagogic discourse of politicians. Here, the goal would be to collect proof and proceed with a comparative case study to draw a report on caricature in today’s climate. Finally, the artist suggests that caricature is no longer a marginal act and thus it behooves us to reconsider its role by investigating the different possibilities of giving it a new form that would be in opposition to social media; by taking real action, making real gestures by a physical body in public space, notably by focusing on the subjective experience of the body and in performance. This research will be conducted with a professional dancer, Sahra Huby, as well as with the students of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts. Eleni Kamma also proposes to examine the heritage of caricature in the Royal Academy of Fine Arts and its use as a pedagogical tool. During a fine arts education that relies of live models, caricature is a disturbing force, for it interferes with the study of harmony and correct proportions dictated by aesthetic convention, and it reveals the normative foundations for the latter. Besides, what do we assign to the body today when it comes to learning, within different disciplines (drawing, dance, performance, etc.)? How could an arts education today, which must resist the trend towards normalization, make use of this critical tool?

This pluri-disciplinary research could result in an exhibition, a publication, a public presentation and workshops with students at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts.