A MEETING WITH RAYMA

An infovnzla special dossier by Paula Cadenas Infovnzla-Published on May 19, 2014

Drawing, a job for the brave

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On May 6, a sunny Spring Sunday, I went with my small family to an exhibition of cartoonists in Montpellier, France. The appointment was in a particular and controversial building called “Pierresvives” (Living Stones), recently built on the outskirts of the city to give patrimonial life to the land of the excluded. It’s an exceptional art building designed by Zaha Hadid, an ‘Anglo-Iraqi’ architect, and her group, whose miscegenation extends to all her work and seeks to communicate deconstructing structures. Its main goal: storing heritage files, a huge athletic department, but also to offering all kinds of wonderful material for consultation to communities in need and with the best infrastructure.

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With this background designed by a woman for the memory and the exercise of being a first world citizen we came across Venezuelan cartoonist Rayma Suprani. I believe that all of us who have suffered Venezuela’s daily basis, including the last fifteen years, feel that she’s a close friend. Every day she has tried to disassemble and dismantle ideas, clichés and news with wit and humor. Her work could perhaps register as Zaha Hadi’s in deconstructionism, only that that of the cartoonist’s is in the register of the small, the day-to-day and ‘minor’. And not only a few of us have wondered about that talent to synthesize in an image the news, reflection, knowledge and also to do it with humor. More than once I heard someone ask at home or in the office, “but how does she accomplish it?” Not being able to imagine her imagination. Now that I think about it, proximity has been built from her caricatures and those amazing gifts that she gives us everyday. Perhaps her face was until not long ago less recognizable than her stroke. Then I venture to believe that she, like many other workers, has gained strength and authority, and —as her creations— she has been reaffirmed as the conflict in Venezuela progresses. In the last fifteen years we have seen appear the character known as Rayma.

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And that day we went to the famous cartoonist’s meeting to hug this tenacious fighter with brush, paper and pencil; not particularly for the event or the subject itself. However, once we were there we discovered that the meeting “L’Herault trait libre 2014”, was dedicated not only to women that are victims but also active protagonists. And what better than this sharp form of art to capture that dual approach?

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Once inside, we were immediately surprised by the way we were received: On one end cartoonists drawing febrile dedications, and on the other two women are busy spreading black and red lines over an immense white surface. One is from Tunisia and says that she has recently discovered the democratic opening; the other one is from Venezuela, who strives to show the autocratic stubbornness that has been encircling the country. Packages of black markers are scattered and two bodies are struggling.

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There the two of us, a pair of Venezuelans exiles, refugees for over four years found Rayma and for the first time felt a different kind of reunion. Not only of feelings, but of other countrymen suffering the same. The tragedy between from here and from there, and that is not suffered the same way. From this moment I keep and thank Rayma for her huge hug, her energy, and that exhibition deserves, I think, a different article.

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I can anticipate that it’s not over yet and that they have dedicated a great exhibition space for the persecution and death threats that Rayma has suffered in Venezuela, as well as for the support campaign led by Amnesty International. The meeting was enthusiastic and precipitated, we said goodbye the next day at the train station; around a coffee table we enunciated ideas and projects, eager to continue doing things. We hugged knowing that in the face of such barbarity you get a little restless, or rather wanting to be. She was going to Barcelona, ​​Paris and then back to Venezuela. In every corner there’s a friend waiting doing something, taking pictures, newspaper clippings, translating, writing, struggling as if wanting to stop what happens, record it and report it anyway.

http://cartoons.arte.tv/rayma-suprani-venezuela/ (in spanish)

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Each of these initiatives by cartoonists not only stays in this corner of Pierresvives. Exchanges, press conferences and exhibitions are promoted by an organization lead by Plantu, a cartoonist who is an institution in France, “Cartooning for peace” / Dessins pour la paix “, which was created in 2006 at the UN headquarters during Kofi Annan’s period in office as Secretary General, after two days of conferences that aimed for “unlearning intolerance”. Much work around the world has been done since then, displays and the multiplication of public demonstrations.

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A few days later, during her visit to Paris, Rayma would learn that the documentary that tells the life of 12 cartoonists from New York to Caracas to Moscow was selected to be showcased and promoted at the Cannes Film Festival this year.

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Yes, the documentary by Stéphanie Valloatto, “Caricaturistes, fantassins de la démocracie” (Cartoonists, infantrymen of democracy) focuses on ways to follow the censorship and ways of breaking freedom of speech in countries such as Russia and Venezuela among others. And the film about these particular postmodern heroes —that seem more organized than any political institution— is part of the official selection.

She, the contemporary journalist, passionate cartoonist for Venezuela’s newspaper El Universal —who has been harassed mercilessly and has received the supported from an Amnesty’s campaign— is in Cannes today. The rest has been hectic for her, perhaps as the unfortunate escalation of violence gripping the country. In fact, just as her character, her work seems to gain strength, and at this time she is developing a series of tarot cards full of deconstructive force of this history of ours and, I think, it will remain in our memory.

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This May 18, a month later, she has returned to the Mediterranean sunshine through the front door, and for a few minutes of her days, which are also a part of ours, she’ll be there in the Cannes Film Festival. Just a few days ago, amid this fast coming and going, Rayma Suprani, with an openly and decided face and stride, always generous with that particular shyness, left a note on Facebook (May 12, 2014). And even without being able to imagine how Rayma’s days are like, with this passage we end, or even better, seek to open the tribute that infovnzla dedicates to her today, accompanying her in this righteous battle for freedom:

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The card shows us today the road to the red carpet …

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Original Source: Cadenas, Paula “A meeting with Rayma”. May 19, 2014.

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