“It’s a comedy that makes you want to cry,” says Christopher Sperandio. The distress and injustice of our world are increasingly so absurd that it almost seems comical. Christopher is an American artist with a great enthusiasm for comic books. He has long been working closely with the medium, including several international collaborations. Capsulizing his own art within one mere word as “pissed-off,” his practice in comic illustration – the fierce palette of the print and the action-lead raw narratives – certainly reflects the frustration and the fury of the artist toward the countless and endless, even repetitive, chaos of the society derived from greed, brutality and racism.
Christopher is no stranger to the power of comics. Beneath the naive frivolous nature of the medium lies an explosive energy, and most of all – a political voice. He points out that the aftermath of comics can be just as violent, with cartoonists and comic artists sent to prisons or even murdered. Take for example, the recent Charlie Hebdo Attack, where twelve employees of the French satirical magazine were killed.
Yet the danger is not limited to the confrontation and controversy from free speech, but also as a political tool for the purpose of propaganda. Interested in the history of comics in different countries, Christopher spent a month in Lisbon last summer. Diving into the archives of Portuguese comics, he devoured the considerable amount of Fascist prints with their governmental indoctrination. They were full of beautifully portrayed images such as kids in uniforms singing patriotic songs.
images by PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program
At the same time, comics are equally influential for positive uses. He mentioned the critical cartoons during the 1968 protest in Paris in which the dreadfulness of capitalism was conveyed through graphics and narratives. Early last year, Christopher curated the exhibition Between Love & Madness: Mexican Comic Art from the 1970s. The title came from one of his comic book collections of original drawings Entre el Amor y la Locura. “That comic is about gaslighting,” he explains. He references the 1944 mystery-thriller Gaslight where the husband manipulates the wife into questioning her own sanity. “That’s what Trump is doing with the American public. He’s gaslighting the American public – telling lies and making the citizens believe things that aren’t true.” Christopher complimented the utilization of comic book form to discuss the psychological manipulation which is still perfectly relevant to contemporary issues in the modern world.
“Humour can reach across gaps whether it’s class, race or other kind of social boundaries. Humour has a political dimension to it. It can be quite useful in destroying tyrants.” The artist who previously published a copy about Trump, describing him in comical term as “a straight-up villain,” is currently working on his new comic book, tackling on the concern of automation. Seeing the videos of Boston Dynamic robots, he questioned the possibility of the exploitation – robots deployed as a military or police force instead of for health-care purposes. “It sounds a bit like science fiction,” he continued “but it fills me with dread seeing the videos. These things literally feel like zombies, with no pity and no feelings. They are animated but not alive.”
written by Huai-ya Lin
images supplied by artist
See Christopher’s work in the upcoming exhibitions
Friday 20 September
Saturday 21 September – Monday 23 September
PILOTENKUECHE International Art Program