By Sean Matthews – Feb 28,2020

The French Institute of Jordan is providing an exhibit space in its mezzanine-level library for the Jordanian Cartoonist Association to use cartoons to draw attention to the Kingdom’s environmental issues (Photo by Sean Matthews)

AMMAN — The French Institute of Jordan (IFJ) is currently hosting an exhibition of the works of nine members of the Jordanian Cartoonist Association titled “Life is a Caricature” with the aim of raising awareness in regards to the issue of plastic pollution in Aqaba.

The exhibition is a follow-up to the IFJ event, “Night of Ideas”, which took place on January 30 and saw a panel discussion on marine biodiversity and waste management in the Kingdom.

Now in its fourth year, “Night of Ideas” is a global event that takes place in France and around the world through the sponsorship of the French Ministry of Europe and Foreign Affairs and the French Institute. Its theme is centred on fostering dialogue to engage with relevant global issues each year.

This year there “seemed to be a broad consensus across the globe” to further the discussion on addressing environmental challenges, said Charlotte Cambier of the IFJ.

The French Institute is providing an exhibit space in its mezzanine-level library for the Jordanian Cartoonist Association to use cartoons as a medium of expression in order to draw focus to Jordan’s environmental issues.

Bashir Mraish, public relations representative and board member of the association, was the main point of contact for the project.

In an interview, he told The Jordan Times: “We felt that for this exhibition we needed to focus on something that tackles an actual, felt issue. Therefore, the effect of plastic on Aqaba, being the only seashore in Jordan, was as important as any other social or political issue.”

The artists who created the aquatic- and marine-related cartoons spanned a myriad of experience levels, according to Mraish, who added: “We don’t reject any cartoons that reflect the message… rather, we keep it for the taste of the viewer.”

Cambier affirmed the importance of greater public awareness: “Aqaba faces lots of environmental challenges, particularly related to high amounts of plastic consumption, and we wanted to highlight this. We all know where the plastic is going.”

According to Cambier, visitors have shown a “positive” reaction to the exhibition. “We are not a gallery space. So many people who see the exhibition may not be coming specifically for that reason. If they are here for an event or class, they stumble upon it and that has allowed us to reach more of the public,” she said.

The cartoon exhibition will continue to be on display at the IFJ through the first week of March.