The folly as a cultural phenomenon plays a symbolic role in social acceptances and art. Reflections of folly in language enable semiotic analysis; however language of fools independent from causuality reverses this interaction benefiting from freedom raised by folly. The relationship established by mental and physical deformations and grotesque appearance between fools and jesters, mimes, jugglers deigns these humiliated groups “Feast of Fools” as a purification ritual in the Middle Ages. However with the Age of Enlightenment a great passion for rationality leads to the idea of capture and rehabilitation of fools.
In the study it is aimed to discuss that critical possibilities created by freedom of expression for fools and jesters on the basis of relation between court jester and political power. Reflections of folly in art from the Middle Ages onwards is examined in the case of contemporary surrealist painter Michael Cheval’s “Absurdity” series. Foucault’s “The Great Internment” and Bakhtins’s theory of “Carnival” are used in the study. It is concluded that Cheval makes social criticism by the practice of detournement and thruogh reproduction revitalizes carnivalesque images in his works.
Key Words: Michael Cheval, folly, court jester, detournement, carnivalesque.