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“Iconoclazine” reflects on the nature of meaning in art through comedy

Comic zine, Steven Christie, 14 pgs, steamincrispy.comPart essay and part comedy, Steven Christie’s Iconoclazine follows an aptly named protagonist, Ryan the Destroyer, explaining the highs and lows of iconoclasm (a belief in the social or spiritual good of destroying icons and monuments) in a group of art school peers.Christie presents a somewhat catchall summary of the history of iconoclasm, with examples ranging from Byzantine Emperor Leo III banning religious images, to Ai Weiwei’s Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn. Christie, through Ryan the Destroyer, reflects on the nature of meaning in art — when it is a made, and what ramifications an iconoclastic approach brings to it. Christie’s thin line brings a unique edge to each of his characters, with Ryan’s sycophantic obsession with iconoclasm demonstrated through his near constant grin and drive towards destruction. In the comic’s second half, Ryan actually destroys another student’s work. This ideological (and generally shitty) act is merely played off by their nonchalant teacher with “I don’t care about student work anyway. It’s all trash.” This, and Ryan’s ensuing imprisonment in Art Jail are my favourite moments. While locked up, it’s pointed out to Ryan that his passion for destruction may stem from simply picking and choosing the parts of iconoclasm that he likes — for instance, he’s taken to task by a classmate for neglecting to mention such instances as the Afghan Taliban’s destruction of the historic Bamyan Buddhas in 2001. “I’m a little confused by the whole thing,” Ryan muses at the comic’s conclusion. Aren’t we all? (Graham Sigurdson)