Michael Kvium (1955-) and Christian Lemmerz (1959-), From the cartoon Performance, 1986
This cartoon by Kvium and Lemmerz is a peculiar one. Retelling it is difficult, but we can definitely say that it is about a man, a woman, a boy, and a baby – and, furthermore, about sex, violence, birth, death, resurrection, and ultimate disappearance. As in any cartoon, panoramic pictures and close-ups alternate, but here there are no words, only black-and-white pictures.
The story told in the cartoon
Quite a lot happens during the course of the story: the man drowns in his own piss, the woman engages in oral sex with the dead man, she becomes pregnant and gives birth with the boy assisting her.
In the drawing reproduced here – in which, unusually, all characters appear in the same picture – the man wakes up, the boy has lost his head, and the man uses it as a ball. The woman still lies with her legs spread while the newborn baby watches, still linked to its mother by a blinking umbilical cord. At the end of the story, the headless boy stabs the man in the back and turns into crystals and a pile of dust. A mouse climbs out of the man’s mouth, the woman panics and seeks refuge on a chair, but in her hurry she cracks the baby’s head on the edge of the chair. She then jumps out of the window. What is left is a room with a dead man, a pile of dust on the floor, and crystals floating on air.
All in all, there seems to be no room for hope in this performance, which celebrates contemporary dismantling of any kind of Utopian thought.