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Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Behind the Lines 2020 helps make sense of a ‘dog’s breakfast’ year

A collection of works by Australia’s finest political cartoonists has captured the “dog’s breakfast” that has been 2020 in the Museum of Australian Democracy’s (MoAD) Behind the Lines 2020.

Depictions of the many storylines and political ramifications that have come out of 2020’s major events like the bushfires and the COVID-19 pandemic are on display now in what is, year on year, consistently MoAD’s most popular exhibition.

“It’s been a messy year, we’ve had bushfires and we’ve had a pandemic, which is a terrible thing to have happen,” Dr Karl Kruszelnicki, who was on hand to launch Behind the Lines 2020, told Canberra Weekly.

“On one hand you’ve got the theme of the dog’s breakfast, that it’s been a mixed year, but on the other hand you’ve got the idea that the political cartoonists dig up the hidden bones of truth that various parts of society, the politicians or the wealthy, want to keep hidden from us.”

Showcasing 104 cartoons created by 36 cartoonists from an array of Australian media outlets, and one from the USA, Behind the Lines 2020 both walks viewers through the year that was and helps its audience make sense of the wild ride it has been.

“The thing I love about the art is it cuts straight to the truth,” Dr Karl said.

“There’s all these press releases and misinterpretations by various bit of the media, but you try to make sense of what’s going on and you turn over to the political cartoon and suddenly you see a scalpel going straight to the very bone, the very essence of it.”

MoAD 202 Behind the Lines Cathy Wilcox
Cathy Wilcox, cartoonist for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, received the 2020 Political Cartoonist of the Year award at today’s exhibition launch.

Cathy Wilcox, cartoonist for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, received the 2020 Political Cartoonist of the Year award at today’s exhibition launch.

MoAD Director Daryl Karp lauded Ms Wilcox for the sharp eye she casts over both sides of politics and the ways she captured the momentous events of the year, as seen through the eyes of ordinary people.

“Cathy has pricked people’s hearts with her take on events big and small, finding a poignant angle to the summer’s bushfire and wildlife disaster and the COVID-centric humour with ‘any excuse to leave the house’,” said Ms Karp.

Her second time winning the award, Ms Wilcox said at the core of her craft is the requirement to “bring a kind of everyperson’s view of what is happening in the news”.

 “Cartoonists can act as a counter to the main flow of news, and always have an eye on what’s happening on the side,” she said.

“We try to read between the lines of what’s said by people in power, examine the threads of vested interest, and un-spin the message. In short, we just call out the BS.”

Behind the Lines: the year in political cartoons 2020 is open now for the next 12 months; click here for more.

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