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Hungary for Conversation 

The 27 member nations of the European Union have 27 different cultures and almost as many languages. And while 2008 was the European Year of Intercultural Dialogue — it's always good to have a nice chat now and then, you know — in which language were the countries expected to dialogue? Hungary offered a helping hand in the form of The Twelfth Hungarian Cartoon Festival: A Dialogue of Cultures. Cartoonists were challenged to address the ideas of religion, minorities, immigration, science and the workplace in the wordless medium of their art, and the 77 cartoonists (representing 25 countries) responded with visual eloquence. Hungarian artist Marabu's depiction of stylized humans linking hands to form a ladder in order to climb out of a deep hole is an elegant and immediately recognizable metaphor for cooperation no matter what language the viewer speaks. Polish artist Henryk Cebula's piece is a bit grimmer but no less evocative, showing two thick-bellied humans wielding hammers atop the globe, their protruding tongues fixed in place by a single nail. And first-prize winner Oleg Goutsol's image of an American tourist skeptically eyeing a bin full of souvenir arms from the Venus de Milo says something about how well Americans travel. The Twelfth Hungarian Cartoon Festival opens with a free public reception from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, October 23, at the Saint Louis University Museum of Art (3663 Lindell Boulevard; 314-977-2666 or sluma.edu). The work remains up through Sunday, December 20, and the museum is open Wednesday through Sunday.
Wednesdays-Sundays. Starts: Oct. 23. Continues through Dec. 20, 2009

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