Whilst visiting another exhibition in Angoulême, we happened to stumble across a space dedicated to the recent events linked to Charlie Hebdo. (Charlie Hebdo is a French magazine that publishes political satire. A few weeks ago, there was an armed attack at the magazine headquarters in Paris. In the gunfire, 12 people were killed. It has been a shock to the French community, and there has been a desire to react against this violence through the slogan “Je suis Charlie” – I am Charlie.)
There were some very well designed cartoons in reaction to the events- using the symbol of the pen/pencil that has come to symbolise the freedom of expression, questioning the motives and claims of the gunmen and looking at how to move on. Looking at some of the old Charlie publications, you can see that it has a very provocative style and makes a mockery out of current affairs.
On the ground floor, there was also an intriguing display in reaction to the recent events. It was titled “Our Weapons: An exhibition in the spirit of peace and solidarity” (at least according to my loose translation) and made clever use of photography to present camera equipment in the layout of a gun. Each photo within the exposition displays the photography equipment of a photographer (mainly within France) who wishes to take a stand against violence by bearing witness with their camera.
I really admire the work of journalists who risk their lives to reveal the hidden histories of violence in this world, and I found this concept quite stimulating. A camera allows us to bear witness- but it can also bring us power and protection. A single photo can defame a mighty empire… or at least leave a stain on its reputation.