In Poster Children, Zurkow’s cartoon renderings conjure apocalyptic fantasies of the deluge that is predicted to accompany climate change in the coming decades.
The contexts in which cartoons appear extend far beyond Saturday morning children’s television. Cartoons appear in advertisements like the Geico gecko. They also factor into political propaganda like the anti-Semitism campaigns in Nazi Germany in the 1930s and Mao’s Communist revolution in China in the 1980s. Goya and Daumier are esteemed artists who drew cartoons to denounce political corruption and mock the habits of the wealthy. One historical example of a government’s adoption of cartoon imagery appears on a WWII poster depicting Uncle Sam pointing directly at the observer er announcing in bold letters, “I Want You for the U.S. Army.” This poster provides a glittering example of why cartoons are appropriate formats for disseminating appeals and opinions to a broad public. Comprehending cartoon imagery is simple, obvious, and immediate. It rarely requires contemplation or analysis – unless that cartoon imagery has been created by Marina Zurkow.
Ya es Hora
Marina Zurkow describes her relationship to the tradition of cartoons and animations by commenting, “A sign’s purpose is to provide a single piece of information as clearly, succinctly, and compactly as possible. But the goal of these is to see if you can communicate more–something funny or absurd, even something that linguistically short-circuits the meaning of the sign. You should be able to read it immediately, but then there’s a double take. That’s where the fractured little haiku emerges–in the second look.”57
In Poster Children, Zurkow’s cartoon renderings conjure apocalyptic fantasies of the deluge that is predicted to accompany climate change in the coming decades. The cartoon simplicity that characterizes her drawings of water, ice, animals, icebergs, the sea, and naked children, is not her only influence. Ancient Asian scroll painting provides the format within which this narrative unfolds. Like Zurkow, Yun-Fei Ji chronicles contemporary disaster that takes the form of a flood. The current deluge in China that he depicts was caused by the construction of the Three Gorges Dam. His narrative is an actual Asian scroll painting.
Zurkow and Ji have much in common. Both draw by hand in a meticulous, labor-intensive manner. Their works are exhibited within the refined, uncluttered contexts provided by art galleries and museums, suggesting their mutual interest in prolonged and uninterrupted scrutiny. Each conveys a situation that is troublesome, and each produces work that is visually appealing. Stylistically, however, the two works diverge. Describe the stylistic differences between Zurkow and Ji and explain how these differences affect the responses of the viewer. Are these responses likely to be emotional or rational? Pleasing or distressing?