Caricatures and cartoons, an established technique of both the 'overloaded' and 'liberated' image, constitute an especially relevant medium for the studies on visuality and the mechanisms of representation. Although traditionally perceived as 'weapons', the instruments of social and political interventionism, caricatures and cartoons have been demystified as 'sermons', the tools of policing the established regimes of truth. This article looks at various approaches to studying cartoons, borrowed from semiotics and psychoanalysis. For John Fiske, cartoons, which combine the complexity of the signified with the alleged simplicity of the signifiers, offer a good opportunity to study the processes of visual signification. For Freud and, subsequently, for Ernst Kris and Ernst Gombrich, caricatures and cartoons, comparable to jokes and dreams, are vehicles of aggression and act as manifestations of the unfulfilled wish repressed in the unconscious; they adopt the technique analogous to dream-work, revealing their latent content by obscuring it through the process of condensation and displacement. Referring to both of those methods, the article examines a cartoon about the Solidarity revolution, which was published in 'The Independent' in January 1989, and was discussed by Gombrich in August 1989 as an example of the upholding strategy rather than the subversive power of cartoons which 'like other ritual acts, exist to renew and reinforce the ties of common faith and common values that hold a community together'. The authoress wishes to argue that, ultimately, Derrida's method of focusing on the seemingly incidental details repressed by the authors makes it possible to deconstruct not only the manifest content of the cartoon-text, but also that of its interpretation by Gombrich. Both of these texts repress a latent anxiety of the British subject faced with the destabilization of the post-WWII episteme, leading to the abolition of the Cold War hierarchical binaries.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
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