Euro-crisis art

This blog details the current European crisis, and, in particular, Euro-crisis art. The economic world, for the past couple of years, has focused its attention upon Europe and its ongoing debt crisis.  The Euro-zone has been hit hard with financial instability, and countries such as Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and Ireland have been struggling to stay afloat.  Newspaper headlines, websites, and TV shows discuss the situation in-depth and others such as artists have also taken a great interest in the crisis. I’ll be discussing Germany and intend to focus predominately on artistic German depictions/points of views on the rest of Europe.  In addition, I’ll cover the reverse: Europe’s artful depictions/point of view of Germany.  How is Angela Merkel as well as other EU leaders being depicted?  How do Germans portray other European countries and vice versa?  How do countries, like Greece, use art to illustrate their own unique position in the crisis?

The depictions of the crisis found both in newspapers and on the web are numerous and humorous.  The tensions between Germany and the rest of Europe create a social, as well as political environment infused with polarity, radicalism, and acrimony.  To cope with the on-going situation, Germany, and other European nations turn to art – instead of words  – to show both their social stances and political points-of-views.  I believe Euro-crisis art has allowed those involved to: a) have a good laugh, b) take a side, and c) find a unique outlet in expressing one’s opinion.

There exists a plethora of blogs detailing the Euro-crisis.  In one blog post titled “Five cartoons about the crisis in Greece,” the author has carefully chosen cartoons representing the situation in Greece.  In the cartoons, Greece is undoubtedly being criticized.  The brief description concerning the article says “After Sunday’s election in Greece, where political parties in favor of an international bailout won a slim majority, the country appears to have avoided crashing out of the euro zone. However, the region’s debt crisis shows no signs of abating.”  The statement is not quite a negation nor or a positive in regards to the author’s point-of-view.  It is simply a neutral and informative sentence; however, when one glimpses at the cartoons, we come to find that the article is indeed more on the lines of bashing (negating) Greece.   In the first cartoon, the man in the cartoon decides whether Greece should exit the Euro zone with a gun, or cut budgets with a knife and with a bottle and a cup of ouzo resting next to him on the table.  The artist of this cartoon allies the man’s situation to an equally profound situation on a national scale.  The relationship between the man and Greece are one and the same: both are in a suicidal situation.  The man, and the country, can choose the gun or the knife; either way, a death sentence is imminent.

In another cartoon, this time from Germany, we see Angela Merkel instructing the Greek prime minister how to roll a giant stone not up a slope, but rather up a cliff.  The distance between the two characters in the picture almost entails a student-teacher relationship.  As Merkel’s right arm points to a drawing of how one is to achieve the task, her left arm is waving frantically back and forth as if the slender, undernourished prime minister of Greece is not quite grasping the idea.  The caricature seems to reflect three ideas: 1) the Greek recovery is virtually impossible, 2) the Greeks are too uneducated to help themselves, and 3) the Greeks are subjugated to the German chancellor.  Similar to our first aforementioned cartoon, the Greek situation is anything but positive.  The difference between the two, however, is the second cartoon originates from a German source and places the decision-making not in the hands of the Greeks, but in the hands of Merkel and the Germans.  Where the Greek man, and the Greeks, are able to determine their fate in a more precise fashion (as depicted in the first cartoon), Merkel details their fate and lays out the plan for them (which ironically leads the man to the gun-knife situation).  The German impression demonstrates the Greek inability to care for themselves.  They are dependent on the leadership and instruction from the Germans.  One cannot put a finger on it, whether the artist’s intention was suppose to be sympathetic toward the Greeks or condescending; nonetheless, the caricature seems to represent a German point-of-view rather than the opposite.

2 thoughts on “Euro-crisis art

  1. I really liked this! I like your descriptions of the pieces, but wish I could have seen more of what the pieces are actually looking like.

  2. Pingback: German Comics: From “Kid’s Stuff” to Political Propaganda | EuroKulture

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