This volume addresses questions concerning the interrelations of three important variables: war, images and the Other. The explicit stereotypes and contrasts but also the implicit message in wartime images informs the attentive observer about the aims, motives and ideas of the author of the image. Focusing on caricatures and photographs, the volume brings together various accounts of wartime imagery from mainly Eastern and Central Europe.
The photograph is commonly perceived as a faithful record of reality. It is treated as an objective expression of a visual convention, exemplifying the way things are depicted at a given time. Deeper reflection, however, reveals how photography is at all times constructed and contextualised. This shows that we cannot simply take what we are seeing or what we believe is being represented for granted. Photography may also convey information of the group identity of its author, because through its affinity to a particular way of thinking it often refers to a certain culture, typical to the group of people to which the author belongs. It still documents the world, remaining an evidence of the past, although construed one; but it is also an indication or a trace of how the author has seen the reality, since every photograph carries the convictions, stereotypes, ideas, etc. or assumptions of the ideology its author subscribes to.
In contrast, caricature sets off from different premises. The implicit aim of caricature is to sketch and exaggerate, not depict ‘neutrally’. The power of caricature is vested in the recognisable, although grossly and blatantly exaggerated, image of the Other.
It places the Other outside the normal, the accepted and the conventional, visualising the nascent juxtaposition through ridiculous details like playing with the proportions of the body, adding animal body parts, depicting the target as involved in some shameful activity etc. Although the main targets of caricaturists have usually been the clergy, politicians, noblemen and other well-off social groups, interethnic conflict may turn primary attention to ethnic targets and their bizarre, abnormal ways.
Through analysing representations of war, the present volume presents, analyses and discusses these experiences in order to reach a comparative conclusion on how war matters in relation to images—i.e. how it affects the construction of the Other in a visual format.