Physical Dramaturgy: Ein (neuer) Trend?

Dramaturgie im zeitgenössischen Tanz ist ? positiv gemeint ? ein heißes Eisen. Idealerweise sind Dramaturginnen und Dramaturgen während der Erarbeitung eines Stücks die besten Freunde der Choreografen. more more



"Cutting off my tongue"

Gay German comic star Ralf König made his first ever political statement during the Muhammed cartoon conflict. He talks to Wieland Freund about what drove him to it.

Die Welt: You have just been awarded the special prize by the Max und Moritz jury of the International Comic Salon in Erlangen – for your response to the Muhammed cartoon conflict. What prompted you to produce those cartoons?

Ralf König: I'd already been dealing with the issue for two years as part of my work on the two-part comic book "Jinn Jinn". I'd read the tales of the "Arabian Nights" and was fascinated by the subject of the Orient. As time went by though I found my interest waning. I've worked on comics for 25 years and have always drawn what I wanted to draw. I was never bothered by people getting worked up over a penis or a joke about the Virgin Mary. But with this book I found myself cutting off my own tongue. I felt inhibited about using problem words like Allah and Sharia. And at the end I must admit that I wormed my way around the issue – the word Islam does not appear once in the entire book. This really got me thinking that here in the middle of Europe, in the middle of Cologne, where I live, as a comic strip artist I suddenly had to start being so careful about a religion that wasn't even mine. Then with the cartoon conflict I finally exploded. One morning I scribbled down these six or seven cartoons (that were published in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung - ed) That was the first time I ever made a political statement.

Cover illustration from "Jinn Jinn" part 1 by Ralf König. © Ralf König

What was it that made you so angry? Your cartoons are not Muhammad cartoons.

I wasn't interested in drawing this Muhammad again. I'm also against doing that just to provoke. What's already happened is bad enough: people have been killed, embassies burned. What annoyed me was this embarrassed coughing, these apologies, all this we-have-to-think-about-our-freedom-of-the-press. At the carnival in Cologne religion was wiped from the agenda, and this constitutes censorship as I see it. There was one sketch at the "Stunksitzung" cabaret at the carnival about a suicide bomber using subliminal advertising in his confessional video. After that the acting mayor said this was casting a shadow on Jihad and the Hamas. A sentence to be savoured.

Do you believe in the "Clash of Cultures"?

I certainly do. I recently saw a burqa in Cologne for the first time and I didn't like what I saw. The differences are becoming ever clearer. I believe that the West should remain conscious of its values and defend them to the teeth. I have no desire to see burqas in this city.

There are people, in the media at least, who see the clash of cultures as a clash of clichees.

It's certainly difficult to differentiate between the two. It's tempting to generalise, and one should always bear that in mind. Even I, who thought the whole multi-cultural thing was not a bad idea, catch myself at it sometimes. This has to do with clicheed thinking of course.

Cover illustration from "Jinn Jinn" part 2 by Ralf König.
© Ralf König

In your comic "Jinn Jinn" a joyless orthodox Mufti is magically transformed into a gay lover. Is your satire the sort where everything is allowed?

If I say say yes to that, the next question will be the one about the Iranian Holocaust cartoons. It's always difficult. "Jinn Jinn" was never intended to be a rant about Islam. When I started the work, I had the Taliban in my head and I imagine it will also be viewed negatively in the Islamic world.

The second part of "Jinn Jinn" has just been published and this time you've shifted the emphasis towards western cultural circles. Sinister medieval Europe and even creationism play a role.

I didn't want to be one-sided. The Pope was in Cologne for World Youth Day and actually Cologne, as least a far as gays are concerned, is an extremely tolerant city. Nobody thinks twice about men walking around arm in arm. But on World Youth Day suddenly nothing was that simple. People gawped at you. And not in a particularly friendly way.

Do you believe in the much touted return to religion?

I'm afraid so. I cannot remember religion, which is something I have always found alien, having played such a major role as it does now. I've had to learn that my lifestyle is not tolerated by the Church for a start and now we're being confronted by a religious view of the world on every corner. As far as sexual morals are concerned, the climate is getting tougher again. I just think that non-believers have a right to be left in peace. I have nothing against values, but it's always dangerous when these values are simply draped over other people.

Is it necessary to defend the fun society now?

If by fun society you mean Stefan Raab on TV, "Geiz is geil" (saving is sexy - an expression coined for the advertising campaign of a German electronics chain), party lifestyle and irresponsibility, I never would have wanted to defend them.

Do you find the black-red-gold patriotism of the World Cup (see our feature on this by Thomas Brussig here) comforting?

It's alien to me. But rather that way than the other way round. I do quite like the idea of competition in sport. I just get annoyed that you can't sit in a single cafe in Cologne without being blared at by a giant television. There's no escape. It's like Christmas. And I hate Christmas.


The article originally appeared in Die Welt on June 19, 2006.

Ralf König (website) was born in North Rhine - Westphalia in 1960. He has published any number of comic books, mostly dealing with homosexual themes. He has also written several of film scripts and some of his comics have been filmed.

"Dschinn Dschinn. Schleierzwang und Sündenpfuhl" (Jinn Jinn. Veil enforcement and the sink of iniquity) by Ralf König is published by Rowohlt Verlag.

Translation: lp.

Get the signandsight newsletter for regular updates on feature articles. - let's talk european.

More articles

This kiss for the whole world

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Who actually owns "intellectual property"?  The German media that defend the concept of intellectual property as "real" property are the first to appropriate such rights, and they are using this idea as a defensive weapon. With lawmakers extending copyright laws and new structures emerging on the internet, intellectual property poses a serious challenge to the public domain. A survey of the German media landscape by Thierry Chervel
read more

Suddenly we know we are many

Wednesday 4th January, 2012

Why the Russian youth have tolerated the political situation in their country for so long and why they are no longer tolerant. The poet Natalia Klyuchareva explains the background to the protests on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow on December 10th. Image: Leonid Faerberg
read more

The Republic of Europe

Tuesday 20 December, 2011

Thanks to Radoslaw Sikorski's speech in Berlin, Poland has at last joined the big European debate about restructuring the EU in connection with the euro crisis. The "European Reformation" advocated by Germany does not mean that the Holy Roman Empire of the German Nation will be established in Europe, but instead – let us hope – the Republic of Europe. By Adam Krzeminski
read more

Brown is not red

Tuesday 13 December, 2011

TeaserPicFilmmaker and theatre director Andres Veiel disagrees with the parallels currently being drawn between left-wing and right-wing violence in Germany. The RAF is the wrong model for the Zwickau neo-Nazi group, the so-called "Brown Army Faction" responsible for a series of murders of Turkish small business owners. Unlike the RAF, this group never publicly claimed responsibility for their crimes. Veiel is emphatic - you have to look at the biographies of the perpetrators. An interview with Heike Karen Runge.
read more

Legacy of denial

Tuesday 29 November, 2011

TeaserPicGermany has been rocked by the disclosures surrounding the series of neo-Nazi murders of Turkish citizens. In the wake of these events, Former GDR dissident Freya Klier calls for an honest look at the xenophobia cultivated by the policies of the former East Germany, where the core of the so-called "Brown Army Faction" was based. And demands that East Germans finally confront a long-denied past. (Photo: © Nadja Klier)
read more

Nausea in Paris

Monday 14 November, 2011

TeaserPicIn response to the arson attack on the offices of the Parisian satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on November 2, Danish critic and semiotician Frederik Stjernfelt is nauseated by the opinions voiced against the publication, especially in the British and American media. Why don't they see that Islamism is right-wing extremism?
read more

Just one pyramid

Monday 10 October, 2011

Activist and author, Andri Snaer Magnason is among the Icelandic guests of honor at this year's Frankfurt Book Fair. His book and film "Dreamland" is both an ecological call to action and a polemic. "The politicians took one of the most beautiful parts of Iceland and offered it to unscrupulous companies," says the author in a critique of his native country. By Daniela Zinser
read more

Dark side of the light

Monday 3 October 2011

In their book "Lügendes Licht" (lying light) Thomas Worm and Claudia Karstedt explore the darker side of the EU ban on incandescent bulbs. From disposal issues to energy efficiency, the low-energy bulb is not necessarily a beacon of a greener future. By Brigitte Werneburg
read more

Lubricious puritanism

Tuesday 30 August, 2011

The malice of the American media in the case of Dominique Strauss-Kahn is a symptom of sexual uptightness that borders on the sinister, and the feminists have joined forces with the religious Right to see it through. We can learn much from America, but not when it comes to the art of love. By Pascal Bruckner
read more

Much ado about Sarrazin

Monday 22 August 2011

Published a year ago, the controversial book "Deutschland schafft sich ab" (Germany is doing away with itself) by former banker and Berlin Finance Senator Thilo Sarrazin sparked intense discussion. Hamed Abdel-Samad asks: what has the Sarrazin debate achieved beyond polarisation and insult? And how can Germany avoid cultivating its own classes of "future foreigners"?
read more

Economic giant, political dwarf

Wednesday 3 August, 2011

Germany's growing imbalance between economic and political competence is worsening the European crisis and indeed the crisis of Nato. The country has ceased to make any political signals at all and demonstrates a conspicuous lack of responsibility for what takes place beyond its own borders. This smug isolationism is linked to strains of old anti-Western and anti-political, anti-parliamentarian sentiment that is pure provincialism. By Karl Heinz Bohrer
read more

Sound and fury

Monday 11 April 2011

Budapest is shimmering with culture but Hungary's nationalist government is throwing its weight about in cultural life, effecting censorship through budget cuts and putting its own people in the top-level cultural positions. Government tolerance of hate campaigns against Jews and gays has provoked the likes of Andras Schiff, Agnes Heller, Bela Tarr and Andre Fischer to raise their voices in defence of basic human rights. But a lot of people are simply scared. By Volker Hagedorn
read more

The self-determination delusion

Monday 28 March, 2011

TeaserPicA Dutch action group for free will wants to give all people the right to assisted suicide. But can this be achieved without us ending up somewhere we never wanted to go? Gerbert van Loenen has grave doubts.
read more

Revolution without guarantee

Monday 21 February, 2011

Saying revolution and freedom is not the same as saying democracy, respect for minorities, equal rights and good relations with neighbouring nations. All this has yet to be achieved. We welcome the Arab revolution and will continue to watch with our eyes open to the potential dangers. By Andre Glucksmann
read more

Pascal Bruckner and the reality disconnect

Friday 14 January, 2011

The French writer Pascal Bruckner wants to forbid a word. Which sounds more like a typically German obsession. But for Bruckner, "Islamophobia" is one of "those expressions which we dearly need to banish from our vocabulary". One asks oneself with some trepidation which other words we "dearly need" to get rid of: Right-wing populism? Racism? Relativism? By Alan Posener
read more