Accepted Paper:

Dissonant imagination: cartooning as the art of the absurd in Iran  

Author:

Mirco Göpfert (Goethe University Frankfurt)

Paper short abstract:

My paper explores cartooning in Iran as an art of the absurd and it disentangles how its dissonant imagination and pictorial combinatorics of incommensurables is not a solution to, but the desperate celebration of the experience of an existential paradox in contemporary Iran.

Paper long abstract:

Many Iranians see their lives spanned up between binary oppositions, at least when they try to convey how they make sense of their lives to me. To make it brutally brief: They said that their lives are shaped by the constant pressures of a profound schizophrenia: the weight of tradition vs. the aspiration toward a modern future; the architectural juxtaposition of the inside and the outside, the total-social opposition of private vs. public; the rich north of Tehran vs. the poor south of Tehran; the existential juxtaposition of inner self and the outer self; and, last but not least, God and the Great Satan.

And yet, people know that it's more complicated than that. Life is messy and defies simplistic black-white categories. Thus, many are haunted by the feeling that living, thinking and breathing according to -- and reducing the messy complexities of their lived lives into -- two neatly separate and often incommensurable opposites is, in a word, absurd. Cartooning is a way of dealing with such binaries. It's the art of dissonant imagination.

My paper explores cartooning in Iran as such an art of the absurd, including its heuristics of the "third element", and it disentangles how its dissonant imagination and pictorial combinatorics of incommensurables is not a solution to, but the desperate celebration of the experience of an existential paradox in contemporary Iran.

Panel P027
Materialising the Imagination: How People Make Ideas Manifest