Distancies from Reality. Closeness and farness in Igort’s “Notebooks”

Marcello Serra, Rayco González


In recent years, along with the growth in documentation that characterises our society, we have witnessed the rise of the non-fiction narrative genres, which have extended their domain to territories that are historically unconcerned with the representation of reality. Comics is one of them, and its authors are frequently forced to look for original solutions to old problems.

This article focuses on two works by the Italian comic artist Igort, The Ukranian Notebooks and The Russian Notebooks, which describe the atrocities of the Holodomor and of the Russian-Chechen war. The analysis of these comic-books involves a reflection on the problem of distance (close, not close, distant, not distant) from their source and the reality, a central issue in any historical, journalistic or documentary narrative. Applying the analytical tools of structural semiotics and of the historiography of present times, this article illustrates the complex strategy of getting close and moving away carried out by Igort with the purpose of representing a specific reality. At the same time, it argues some theoretical issues concerning the use of witnesses, testimonies, and documents among the disciplines that aspire to narrate historical or cultural reality. 


semiotics; distance; comics; document; witness; Igort


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