The Carnivalesque Flows: Art and Advertising

The case of Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper"

Presentation (Elaboration), 2006

8 Pages, Grade: A


The Carnivalesque Flows:

Art and Advertising

Daria Przybyla

Bakhtinian conception of the carnivalesque is very complex in the sense that it opens a way toward a more general depiction of the nature of art in the relation to the repressed instincts of humans. Even though the idea is situated mostly in medieval and renaissance context, it can be easily transported and/or observed in contemporary popular culture. The theme that I intend to elaborate on is a mode of public relations encoded in media advertising and communicated via visual representations that extends far beyond hegemonic policies. There are two issues that should be pinpointed with respect to the subject matter. First, the master-narratives of culture and religion, as will be illustrated in the following argument, prove to have each a different relationship with the elements of the carnivalesque. And second, as we shall see, the clash between the religious ‘high’, sanctified art and the ‘low’ by-product of social development results in a tension between competing discourses. Consequently, the dialogic interaction within the framework of popular culture between the religious and the cultural reinforces import of the carnivalesque.

The discrepancy between the variety of social communities and the unified constraints imposed by religious authority does not cease to be the case in conflicts erupting around advertising strategies in contemporary culture. Among many possible features of the carnivalesque, in this particular respect, three of them can be deemed central to the discussion. What Bakhtin often stresses is that the carnivalesque is first and foremost an unofficial dimension of social life whose activity subversively deshapes the icons and artefacts “stolen” from “high” culture[1]. Since the everyday life discipline expected from medieval societies was, basically, generated by the Christian churches, the point of departure at the time of carnival was the procedure of consequent parodying images that belonged to the sphere of sacrum. This procedure was stirred by the both local and temporal decline in social hierarchies[2]. Additionally, the ordered seriousness is substituted with a ubiquitous laughter whose semantic properties revolve around the tautological self-referentiality and self-reflexivity[3]. In this sense, the religious symbols are profaned and there is no legitimate authority to restore the temporally lost sanctity. Moreover, the overtone is nonserious which fact can be explicated in terms of common acceptance of whatever takes place during the carnival. As far as the former centuries are concerned the phenomenon fits the specific realities in the sense that it offers an entirely alternative reality to the one and only one hierarchy of values the people might have been confronted with. The situation is, however, far more complicated when it comes to the modern times.


[1] Mikhail Bakhtin, „Kultura, Karnawał, Literatura”, in : Bakhtin, Czaplejewicz and E. Kasperski (eds.), tr. A. Goreniow, PWN, (Warszawa: 1983), p. 144-145.

[2] Ibid., p. 152.

[3] Ibid., p. 150.

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The Carnivalesque Flows: Art and Advertising
The case of Leonardo da Vinci's "Last Supper"
University of Silesia
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ISBN (eBook)
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791 KB
Carnivalesque, Advertising
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Master of Arts Daria Przybyla (Author), 2006, The Carnivalesque Flows: Art and Advertising, Munich, GRIN Verlag,


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