With more than 80 000 followers on social media, featured in the Guardian, NY Times, BBC and Al Jazeera, Khalid Albaih became one of the major voices of the Arab Spring. He broke the silence by creating and distributing cartoons that challenge regimes and illustrate the necessity not to be “the perfect citizen”; the necessity to be critical, to ask questions and be inquisitive.
Albaih started drawing and sharing his cartoons in social media in the early days of the Arab Spring in 2011. His drawings went viral, but also found their way from the Internet to city walls in Cairo and Beirut. Immediate responses to the world’s major political events and social injustice, the main themes of his cartoons relate to how the western and the Arab world interact, to politics, inequality, migration and the role of social media.
Albaih, who is currently ICORN resident in Copenhagen, is Sudanese, born in Rumania, but lived most of his life in Qatar, as his father was a political activist in Sudan. He publishes his cartoons on social media under the name #Khartoon. The name is an important pun, composed of the English word for satire drawings, cartoon, and Khartoum, capital of Sudan. In an interview with art historian Louise C. Larsen, Khalid Albaih says:
- I am from the Internet. This is the place I feel that I really come from. There was a lot we were not allowed to do, but the Internet let us. We couldn’t get a visa as children. It was difficult for families to travel. The Internet became our access to the world, to chatrooms, home pages and blogs. I am not from Rumania, where I was born. I am not from Sudan, because I am a 36-year-old man, still getting lost when I’m there. I am not from Qatar, because I cannot be from Qatar. The only place that was home to me, was the Internet.
The exhibition is curated by art historian Louise C. Larsen in cooperation with Majken Jørgen from Kulturværftet Library, and can be seen from 5 July until 30 September 2018.
Meet Khalid Albaih in conversation with Louise C. Larsen at the Kulturværftet library on 30 August at 5 pm.
Copenhagen, Helsingør and Aarhus are cities of refuge in Denmark. Syrian writer and translator, Amani Lazar is currently ICORN writer in Helsingør, and Aarhus is welcoming the 3rd resident in the near future.