Speaker 2017

Patrick ChappatteEditorial cartoonist

The world in a pencil

Patrick Chappatte draws cartoons for The New York Times, as well as for Swiss newspapers Le Temps and NZZ am Sonntag. He twice won the Overseas Press Club of America’s Thomas Nast award for best cartoons in international affairs, in 2011 and 2015. Over the last 20 years, he has been exploring graphic journalism in print, on the web and in animated form on TV. His latest project, with his journalist wife Anne-Frédérique Widmann, is a five-part series titled Inside Death Row, which was published by The New York Times website in May 2016. Through his Crossed Pens initiatives, Patrick Chappatte gathers editorial cartoonists in conflict-ridden countries to foster a dialogue on human rights through cartoons. He also co-founded the Cartooning for Peace Foundation, whose honorary chairman is Kofi Annan.

Keynote Speech on Video

“If there were to be only one meaning, one sense in the world, then it would have to be the sense of humour.”

Report : The world in a pencil

An editorial cartoonist sees international affairs through a prism of humor, satire, and occasionally even mockery. Patrick Chappatte shared his way of looking at the world with the FHH Forum. Patrick Chappatte draws cartoons for The New York Times, as well as for Swiss newspapers Le Temps and NZZ am Sonntag. Listening to him describe his work, we are left in little doubt as to his worldview. In his speech to the FHH Forum, he put it to the audience that “the big question of our era is, do we know what time it is?” It may seem a trivial question…

An editorial cartoonist sees international affairs through a prism of humor, satire, and occasionally even mockery. Patrick Chappatte shared his way of looking at the world with the FHH Forum.

Patrick Chappatte draws cartoons for The New York Times, as well as for Swiss newspapers Le Temps and NZZ am Sonntag. Listening to him describe his work, we are left in little doubt as to his worldview. In his speech to the FHH Forum, he put it to the audience that “the big question of our era is, do we know what time it is?” It may seem a trivial question for an audience of professionals at measuring time—but the point is, we’re clearly not all using the same instrument as a standard measure. Chappatte is talking about the Doomsday Clock, invented in 1947 at the University of Chicago to represent how close we are to global catastrophe. Nowadays it’s maintained by the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists and their expert panel, which includes over a dozen Nobel Prize winners. Last January the clock was put forward by 30 seconds so it now shows 57 minutes and 30 seconds after 11 pm, in other words two and a half minutes before “the inevitable.” Last time this famous clock was so close to the fateful hour was 64 years ago, when the Soviet Union began testing hydrogen bombs in 1953. The reasons given for the change by these new Masters of timekeeping are “the sharp rise of nationalism across the world, President Donald Trump’s statements on nuclear weapons, global warming, and worsening global security against a backdrop of increasingly sophisticated technologies.”

How do we make sense of it?

It goes without saying that these themes form the crux of Chappatte’s work, which has twice won him the Overseas Press Club of America’s Thomas Nast Award. Over the past 20 years, he has been exploring graphic journalism in print, on the web and in animated form on TV. One of his latest projects, with his journalist wife Anne-Frédérique Widmann, is a five-part series titled Inside Death Row, which was published by The New York Times website in May 2016. Through his Crossed Pens initiatives, Chappatte gathers editorial cartoonists in conflict-ridden countries to foster a dialog on human rights through cartoons. He also co-founded the Cartooning for Peace Foundation, whose honorary chairman is Kofi Annan.

Throughout his speech—richly illustrated, naturally—Chappatte led the audience through the overarching stories of our times: the North Korean nuclear standoff, the dire migrant crisis, the terrorist threat, the suicidal Brexit vote, global warming, Russian interference in the US elections, the Uberization of society, the inequality gap—even the Apple Watch, intelligent cars and new technologies came under scrutiny through his unorthodox lens. The point is to make us think about the issues facing us with lucidity, and with that little satirical distrust that sometimes makes you doubt whether the facts can actually be true. For Chappatte, the truth comes down to a single fact: “If there’s one thing that really gives meaning to existence, it’s our sense of humor!”

Video interview

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