Gerald Scarfe and the Wall (new)

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British political cartoonist Gerald Scarfe has created some of the most iconic political cartoons of the last 50 years.

Gerald Scarfe has now been political cartoonist for the London Sunday Times for 44 years, and has also worked for The New Yorker magazine for 21 years. His work regularly appears in many periodicals in the UK and worldwide.

(Gerald Scarfe’s Official Website). Although there are dozens–if not hundreds–of well regarded political cartoonists, Gerald Scarfe bridges the gap between protest art and graffiti and more conceptual art. Text is certainly relevant to Scarfe’s work. The text elements in his work focus the reader on the theme or message that Scarfe is attempting to convey. Scarfe is also relevant to my Trump Twitter Wall project because Scarfe has both examined the Trump political phenomena and created some of the most haunting images ever produced about the literal and metaphorical danger of walls.

Gerald Scarfe conceived and created the animation for the 1982 Pink Floyd — The Wall movie. The Wall is a film based on the Pink Floyd’s album of the same name starring Bob Geldof as a tortured rock star. The film explores themes of governmental control, authority, programming, propaganda, politics and war.  Twenty-five years later, the animated sequence about the “wall” feels hauntingly apt to my project and the impending reality of the Trump Border Wall. In this sequence (presented in both still images and the animated clip below), an imposing wall spreads across the country side bringing death and war wherever it passes:

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(from Pink Floyd’s the Wall, 1982; Fair Use).

Twenty-Five years later, Gerald Scarfe returned to the idea of the wall in a 2017 political cartoon about Trump’s inauguration entitled “I Swear.

Scarfe 1(Gerald Scare, “I Swear“). In this cartoon lampooning Trump’s inauguration and Trump’s possible ties to Putin, Scarfe uses the dual meaning of “I Swear” to encourage the reader to ask whether we can trust Trump’s presidential oath when he has exhibited a history of profane behavior, especially when his right hand is on Putin instead of the Bible. The body of the cartoon contains the text…

I swear by almighty Putin/ That we will build those walls/ Ban Muslims and Syrian refugees/ Bomb the hell out of Isis/ Ignore climate change/ But treat Pussy with respect/ Nobody is going to mess with us/ We’re going to make America/ Hate Again!

In addition to being prescient in his sense of what the first 100 days of Trump’s administration would look like, Scarfe suggests that Trump wants to build more “walls” than merely the physical border wall. Scarfe argues that Trump wants to wall our country off from immigrants, science, and  international relations. Likewise, my project asks the viewer to view the Trump Twitter Wall as more than a literal wall on the US/Mexico border.