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Jugoslav Vlahovic

UTOPIA or Can the cartoonists change the world?
Can the cartoonists change the world? This eternal question imposes itself again and again and even more strongly after the tragic events in Paris related to the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. Their anarchistic concept of provocation and fierce mockery, often on the verge of bad taste, was cruelly punished by religious fanatics. Someone said at that time that it is necessary to work 25 years to become a good cartoonist, while it takes only 25 seconds for a terrorist. In our profession, it takes even shorter time only to read a cartoon. There is some irony in the fact that the interpretation of a cartoon is so disproportionate to the time of its creation. But precisely this simplicity and murderousness of cartoons carry the responsibility and, a sit may appear to us, even more than previously. As late as in the mid-nineteenth century, an American politician and afrequent target of cartoonists, William “Boss” Tweed, grumbled: “I don't care a straw for newspaper articles; my constituents don't know how to read, but they can't help seeing them damned pictures”. But is it different today? The world is changing, but the perception of cartoons that are no longer published only in print media, but also in electronic media, on websites and smartphones of millions of people worldwide is changing too. People watch them free on the smartphones and the cartoonists do not profit out of this. Utopia is that, in this sense, the tomorrow will change something. Nevertheless, our usual commitment to this unusual work will push us to continue to work as if nothing has happened. But, indeed it has happened and is still happening. The cartoons, as well as ideas, fall from the sky, actually from the satellites, and cover the world. We again ask ourselves whether they can change the world, and we are again at the beginning of this text.

Peter Nieuwedijk, Secretary General FECO:

What does freedom mean to you? Is it something you think we can just take for granted? Or something precious we need to cherish? Or is freedom an Utopia? Our society places a very high value on freedom. We want to make our own choices, to live our lives according to our own lights, to feel free to express our opinions. Without fear. But what we read in the press and watch on television makes it clear that for many people in the world freedom is not something they can take as read, not something guaranteed. Everyone wants to be free, but we are not all there yet, and certainly not for ever. Freedom is for everybody, we say. Are we not all responsible for attaining freedom and holding on to it? But how? Can humour make a contribution to that? The attacks on cartoonists are still fresh in our memory. And on many places they keep on attacking the jokers of our life. Of course we cartoonists and lover of freedom think different. Many felt that this was not only an attack on people, but also an attack on freedom of expression. Is there still room for a land with free humour and satire? Or do we need to bend to accommodate certain sensitivities? Please no way! Cartoonists from different countries and cultures create drawings in the interests of freedom, and show us that humour and satire still have an important role to play. They challenge taboos. They create a new world (Utopia). They make us laugh and they make us think, about freedom and repression, about ourselves and our deepest convictions, and yes, also about the world's rulers and the ways in which we can defend ourselves against fanatics, people with no feeling for satire at all. Or do we need a special country, a special part of the world? Utopia for humorists and well-thinking people…. Or do we try to change this world?

Riber Hansson

Niels Bugge Cartoon Award 2016 is choosing the right moment with the theme of this year's competition. Utopia is the place that does not exist, and the utopia is the dream of the impossible. In these days of increasing political unrest and constant threats of terrorism we all need, more than ever, a notion of a peaceful Utopia.
Is it not paradoxical if we cartoonists allow us to be ironic about these fragile dreams for a better world? No I do not think so. Irony also means self-irony. Self-irony is the basis to really understand humour. And are we missing the goal in our utopian dream, it will hurt less if we have guarded our self with a small humorous reservation.

Carlos Brito

Once upon a time, along time ago, somewhere in Africa, someone more or less human stood up and started walking. Along millenaries, this ancestor of us hardly lived a very long prehistory. And about five thousand years ago, he finally started writing history, our history. In fact, the story, written in our DNA memory, of a long hard way accross space-time in order to arrive here, today. Because humankind never stop walking, we keep going all over the world puting our steps one after the other around earth but also inside our head where we build dreams and nightmares. Blue dreams and black nightmares , hopes and fears which are the bricks of human Utopia. Utopia, might be our motor for the best but also for the worst. It seems that since the very old past, reality of the present has never been enough for us, very special animals always keeping an eye on the future and the other one on the stars. Today, some people cry "no future" and others still believe that there are some possibilities of hope. So, what is your position, dear cartoonist, anywhere you live your dreams and, perhaps, yours nightmares too ? Let us know how you see our future and the future of earth. For that, you may send us through Internet not more than three cartoons, but without words as you are "speaking" to the world, not only to your people.

Marlene Pohle

We are facing a new edition of the International Humor Contest Niels Bugge,perhaps even we are delightfully surprised because today everything is usually very ephemeral. Nevertheless, because of our committed work on Cartooning and because we see the need to give an important place to it, we are setting up this 4th Contest in the wonderful surroundings of Niels Bugge´s Kro and Viborg city. For this new edition we choose an utopian theme. We were inspired by almost everything around us in the days we live in, these can be searching efforts (intentional or not) for peace in the world, or providing a little more food for millions of hungry children or imagining a political stability which lead us to bannish the savage and seemingly limitless terrorism.
We believe the theme "Utopia" will awake and stimulate the creativity of the participating artists for a million of possible ideas, because since human beings transit through the planet they always have been facing ideal but unachievable situations. Or that have become realities many centuries later, as the big discoveries or the simple acceptance of the roundness ot the Earth. We could go on listing utopian possibilities, but it will be better to offer our organizers, participants and public the Cartoons from our artists. For this 4th edition of Niels Bugge Award, we provide you this catalogue, which will be the memory of the exhibition 2016.