by Chysanthos Chysanthou Armida Publications, Nicosia, 2009, pp. 540
In this study, the way caricaturists commented on contemporary news of their era is examined, both in Greek and Cypriot Press. The book includes an introduction to caricaturing (Baudelaire, 2000, Berger, 1986, Escarpit, 1963, Sabin, 1996) as part of the content of Mass Media and as narrative constructions for events that have been landmarks in the history of Cyprus, from 1878 up until 2008. Then 667 caricatures are displayed and analyzed in chronological order, drawn by the pen of 51 artists. At the end of the book their biographies are also published.
Caricatures are a means of journalist commentary of current events, a tool of forming public opinion and affecting decision making bodies, but also a singular source in the quest for “historical truth” (Ferro, 2001, Hobsbawm, 1998, Schaff, 1978).
Caricatures are the distorted reproduction of people, events and social phenomenon, aiming to travesty or satyrise. Travesty is harmless socially, it intrigues the jovial disposal for persons, events and situations, while satire scorns and ridicules. They are two different levels of intellectual communication, which of course has no distinct dividing lines between them.
Caricatures are a communication medium, with their own codes and symbols, which are primarily derived from the cultural framework in which they are classified, but also from international heritage. They derive their codes and symbols from visual arts (mainly surrealism), but also from literature (mainly satire).
With the power of depiction and satire, with the instantaneous effect of visual and verbal symbolisms, with their apparent and latent messages, caricatures can cause sentimental tension to their readers and urge them to take or refrain from action.
The works of the caricaturists contain an analysis of events and deeds, contrary to the use of photographic material in the Press that aim to project “objectively” historical facts, in connection with the scientific impression of positivism. Photographs are considered to be undeniable witnesses in the narrative of events and deeds, even though their selection can conceal political or ideological messages (Burke, 2003).
The political intervention of caricatures (Sapranides, 1974, 2001, 2006) throughout the duration of the existence of the Cyprus Problem (1878-2011) continuously regressed from insinuating commentary to mockery and penetrating evaluation of people and events. Perhaps some caricatures with political content carried a more temporary type of political criticism, rather than a long-term approach, but nevertheless they also had their usefulness in the assessment of the history of the Cyprus Problem.
During the colonial period (1878-1959) the caricatures that pertain to the Cyprus problem expressed the idea of unredeemed Hellenism. These caricatures contributed to the enhancement of the feeling of ethnic belonging and to the ridicule of the foreign oppressor.
The more the Cypriot’s demand for freedom grew, the caricatures were more prone to fluctuate according to the level of freedom that the colonial regime allowed, as well as the political conditions in Greece. The caricatures that denounce the oppressive measures were very characteristic. They ridicule the British interventions that aimed to corrode Greek education, they left hints concerning the negative colonial stance concerning the filling of the vacant archbishopric throne etc.
Acting as political correspondents, Greek and Cypriot caricaturists attempted to review events in Cyprus, condemning actions and decisions they considered unfair and against the best interest of the defenseless Cypriot people. The caricaturists interfered in developments with suggestions towards the Greek and Cypriot leadership, aiming to form public opinion and to affect decision making centers. At the same time, being sensitive receptors, caricaturists cultivated feelings of collective coidentity for the pain and anger of the Cypriot people, for the injustices and plights they suffered, both during the British colonial rule, as well as later, during the period of independence since 1960, with the realization of the Turkish invasion of the island in 1974 and the continuing Turkish occupation. For an evaluation of events, but also the transmission of apparent and latent messages, caricaturists used codes such as scaffolds, chains, death, tanks, swords, saws etc.
The study of the caricatures concerning the Cyprus Problem offers a different record and political analyses of facts, contributing to the quest of “historical truth” in relation to the course of the problem that is still tormenting the Cypriot people.