Today is the biggest red letter day in any Surrealist’s almanac: it’s Lautréamont’s birthday. The day when, full of the joys of spring, we rip off our bathing costumes and make passionate love to the most beautiful shark we can find.
Two sinewy thighs press tightly against the monster’s viscous flesh, like two leeches; and arms and fins are clasped around the beloved object, while their throats and breasts soon form one glaucous mass amid the exhalations of the sea-weed; amidst the tempest which was continuing to rage; by the light of lightning-flashes; with the foaming waves for marriage-bed; borne by an undersea current and rolling on top of one another down into the unknown deeps, they joined in a long, chaste and ghastly coupling! … At last I had found one akin to me … from now on I was no longer alone in life …! Her ideas were the same as mine … I was face to face with my first love!
As we celebrate this auspicious day, here’s a chaste and ghastly round-up of some new and notable Surrealist events.
Billions Of Bilious Blue Blistering Barnacles In A Thundering Typhoon
The Peculiar Mormyrid blog has just posted a landmark new text. Responding to recent academic publications, Swedish Surrealist Mattias Forshage maps the divide between practitioners of Surrealism and commentators on Surrealism in an open letter to students and researchers. The text is serious, well-informed, meticulous, and carefully argued. It’s also furious and funny. Read it here.
Whether its addressees will bother to read it properly, much less take it on board, is anyone’s guess. But then again, the often flaky academic bulletin Infosurr seems to have suddenly noticed that there is a Surrealist group in Leeds, and even that Mattias himself has published a book or two, so who knows? Maybe things are looking up.
Dial S For …
Dreams Made Manifest In Chicago
Gallery Sabine in Chicago is currently running an exhibition devoted to the work of the Chicago Surrealist Group.
Dream Inquiry: Discovering Chicago Surrealism opened on 27 March and will continue until 30 May.
The gallery has indicated that face masks are required, social distancing measures are in place, and visitor numbers will be restricted for safety.
1002 W 18th St
Opening hours: Thursday to Sunday, 11am to 6pm
At the time of writing, the Chicago show is still open – as far as I know – but the exhibition of contemporary Surrealist photography in Saint-Cirque-Lapopie has fared less well.
Surrealist Photography In The World In 2021 opened at Maison André Breton on 20 March. It was due to run until 8 May, but France’s new national lockdown has put paid to it for now.
Here’s hoping it will only be a temporary suspension, and that the show will be able to reopen.
Contributors include Jason Abdelhadi, Steven Cline, Kenneth Cox, Mohsen Elblasy, Ghadah Kamal, Joël Gayraud, Guy Girard, Beatriz Hausner, Patrick Lepetit, Michael Löwy, Emma Lundenmark, David Nadeau, Peter Overton, John Richardson, Wedgwood Steventon, Martin Trippett, John Welson, Francis Wright and many, many more.
The Virus Outfoxed?
As the world plays lockdown whack-a-mole, some countries shut down while others begin to open.
Kathleen Fox: Dreaming The Found
15 July – 5 September
Farleys House & Gallery
East Sussex BN8 6HW
Opening hours: Sundays & Thursdays, 10am – 4.30pm
Advance booking essential
Farewell To Zimbacca
As I was compiling this blog post, I heard the sad news that Michel Zimbacca has died. He was 96.
Zimbacca had participated in the Paris Surrealist Group since the 1940s, and is perhaps best known for his film collaborations – with Jean-Louis Bédouin and Benjamin Péret on L’invention du monde and Quetzalcoatl, and with Jean Benoît on Ni d’Eve ni d’Adam.
But he also produced an endless stream of texts and images, remaining active throughout the decades. He is one of the contributors to the current (albeit suspended) exhibition Surrealist Photography In The World In 2021.
An immensely important figure, he will be sorely missed in the Surrealist movement. My condolences to his many friends and loved ones around the world.
Hero image: photo believed to be of Isidore Ducasse, aka Comte de Lautréamont. Image in the public domain.
Take a peek behind the veil.