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Thursday, November 1
 

5:00pm

Welcome Reception
Food and Drink! (enough for a light dinner)
Participants may pick up registration materials (name badge, edible swag, etc.).

Chairs
avatar for Abigail Susik

Abigail Susik

Associate Professor of Art History, Willamette University
Abigail Susik received her doctorate with distinction in twentieth-century Art History and Theory from Columbia University in 2009, and is currently an Associate Professor of Art History at Willamette University in Oregon. She is the author of many articles on dada and Surrealism... Read More →
avatar for Effie Rentzou

Effie Rentzou

Princeton University
avatar for Jonathan Eburne

Jonathan Eburne

Comparative Litearture, English, French and Francophone Studies, Pennsylvania State University
avatar for Roger Rothman

Roger Rothman

Senior Fellow, Social Justice College
Professor of Art History at Bucknell University. Author of "Tiny Surrealism: Salvador Dali and the Aesthetics of the Small" (Nebraska 2012); co-editor of "Beyond Critique: Contemporary Art in Theory, Practice, and Instruction" (Bloomsbury 2017); currently working on a book on Fluxus... Read More →


Thursday November 1, 2018 5:00pm - 6:30pm
Campus Theatre

7:00pm

Film Screening
Program of iconic and rare films, an eclectic mix of Surrealism’s various cinematic manifestations, especially as they have surfaced in the American avant-garde.  (Runtime: 95 minutes)

Tusalava
Len Lye (1929 UK), 10 minutes, 35MM
This remarkable animation imagines the beginnings of life on earth. It is a unique film example of “modernist primitivism” – in contrast to the Cubist painters (who were influenced by African art), Lye drew upon traditions of indigenous art from his own region of the world (New Zealand, Australia and Samoa). Lye was also influenced by doodling, which he described as a practice that “cultivates a vacuous seaweed-pod state of kelp as a skull which is attached to a pencil betwixt the arm and the fingers held doodling in turn ‘twixt you and the paper in a rather bemused, empty, harmonious state of an attitude, eyes periphering said paper."

Rose Hobart
Joseph Cornell (1936 U.S.) approx. 20 minutes, 16MM – RESTORATION PRINT!
First screened at the Julien Levy Gallery in New York in December 1936, Rose Hobart was reportedly received as unintelligible and inept, with the significant exception of Salvador Dalí. As legend has it, Dalí – in town for the Museum of Modern Art’s surrealist show—grew so enraged by the film that he kicked over the 16mm projector, which Cornell himself was operating; Dalí, the most envious of artists, had some idea of what Cornell had achieved.

We Had the Experience but Missed the Meaning
Laida Lertxundi (2014 Spain/U.S.), 8 minutes, 16MM
Between Los Angeles and San Diego, California, a moment in a story by Bioy Casares finds a man who prefers driving to making love to Veronica. Crossing desert and sea, screen and page, we pass over that which cannot be said, only shown.

Buñuel Bumpers 
A Surrealist-inspired exhibition experiment!

The Deadman
Peggy Ahwesh (1989 U.S.), 40 minutes, 16MM
"The Deadman charts the adventures of a nearly naked heroine who leaves the corpse of her dead lover in a country house, goes to a bar and sets in motion a scabrous free-form orgy before returning to her house to die. The film manages to approximate the transgressive poetic prose of Bataille (a mixture of elegance, raunchy defilement and barbaric splendor) while celebrating female sexual desire without the usual patriarchal-porn trimmings." - Jonathan Rosenbaum, Chicago Reader 

Our Lady of the Sphere 
Lawrence Jordan (1969 U.S.), 10 minutes, 35MM
The mystical Lady with the orbital head moves through the carnival of life in a Surreal Adventure. A classic. Show it to anyone who likes movies. 

Chairs
KE

Ken Eisenstein

Assistant Professor, Film/Media Studies, Bucknell University
RM

Rebecca Meyers

Lecturer and Academic Film Programmer, Bucknell University


Thursday November 1, 2018 7:00pm - 8:30pm
Campus Theatre

9:00pm

Poetry Reading I
Practitioners speaking both from and back into the Surrealist tradition present selections from their work.

Speakers
avatar for Charles Borkhuis

Charles Borkhuis

Independent Artist
EG

Edgar Garcia

University of Chicago
GK

George Kalamaras

Purdue University
AD

Andrew David King

University of Iowa
avatar for Jennifer Militello

Jennifer Militello

Jennifer Militello is the author, most recently, of A Camouflage of Specimens and Garments (2016) and Body Thesaurus (2013), both from Tupelo Press. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, The New Republic, The Paris Review, and Best New Poets. She teaches... Read More →
AN

Aldon Nielsen

Pennsylvania State University
NP

Nina Puro

Belladonna Books

Chairs
GW

G.C. Waldrep

Professor of English, Bucknell University


Thursday November 1, 2018 9:00pm - 10:30pm
Campus Theatre
 
Friday, November 2
 

8:30am

Conference Registration
Check in and pick up your name badge and other goodies!

Friday November 2, 2018 8:30am - 12:30pm
Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Great Room (ground floor)

8:45am

Book Exhibit
  • Beasley Books
  • Belladonna Press
  • Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Bucknell University Press
  • City Light Books
  • Penn State University Press
  • Rutgers University Press
  • MIT Press
  • Wakefield Press

Conference participants are invited to display copies of their books along with discount flyers. Contact Kathi Venios for details (klv006@bucknell.edu).

Friday November 2, 2018 8:45am - 4:30pm
Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Library (first floor)

9:00am

1.B. The Object of Objects
PANEL. The Object of Objects

"Postcolonial Perspectives on Surrealist Collecting and Display Methods and their Impact on Indigenous Objects in Present-Day Modern Art Collections in the United States"
Kristen Strange
Arizona State University

This paper critically examines how the surrealist collecting of Indigenous material culture during the early twentieth century influenced modern art collections in the United States and how current postcolonial discourse on the ethical treatment of artifacts might be brought to bear upon surrealist-influenced art museum collections. Many Surrealists collected Indigenous objects and presented them as modern or surrealist art objects. By mid-century, surrealist collections profoundly influenced and in fact reshaped major private collections of modern art in the United States that also followed the practice of recognizing ethnographic objects as modern art. These private collections were often later relocated to public art museum institutions, which then adopted their own distinct display methods for integrating Indigenous objects into their collections or even retained surrealist modes. This paper addresses major ethical questions that arise when considering Indigenous material culture in postcolonial western art collections. It looks at the need for museums today to understand the ethnographic objects in their collections, and what this means for the objects themselves and their intended uses. I discuss recent discourse by Native scholars, such as Amy Lonetree and Nancy Marie Mithlo, and ideas about best practices for the treatment of ethnographic objects in modern art collections—in new exhibitions of art and in reference to earlier surrealist collections. Furthermore, I consider how shifting paradigms in museum practices, postcolonial theory, and recent American Indian scholarship, impact the way we think about surrealist collecting methods and how they might be addressed in present-day collections and art institutions.

"The Dreams of Keys: From Magritte to Digital Photography"
Pierre Taminiaux
Georgetown University
My presentation focuses on the study of a set of my own digital photographs that is entitled The Dream of Keys. It is inspired by Magritte’s painting The Key of Dreams, in which the surrealist artist combined words and images on the canvas. This work, which was created in 1930, is based on the representation of various everyday objects, from a glass to a lady’s shoe, from a hammer to a hat, and from a candle to an egg. Its original character stems from the fact that the various titles associated with each of these objects do not correspond to their actual names. Therefore, instead of merely naming objects, the painter developed imaginary relationships between distant realities. My own work, The Dream of Keys, echoes his perspective through a conceptual approach of digital photography. By also bringing together objects and words that do not convey their true meaning, I stress indeed the dream-like nature of everyday objects (keys, in this case) and their ability to stimulate both visions and speculative thoughts. I emphasize in this regard the essential role played by language in the construction of a poetics of objects, since both in The Key of Dreams and in my own The Dream of Keys, words reinvent objects by extracting them from the mundane world of the everyday: they lead then to the aesthetic power of chance and to the exploration of man’s inner life.

"A Surrealist Collector: Gordon Onslow Ford"
Caterina Caputo
Center for the History of Collecting, The Frick Collection

The majority of studies dedicated to the British Surrealist painter Gordon Onslow Ford (1912- 2003) so far have dealt with his role as a painter, investigating mainly his art theory and his painting production. The purpose of my paper is to present my recent post-doc research on Onslow Ford's collection. According to recent publications (Ades 2016) collections played an important role for Surrealism, as they represented a way to shape and re-shape the ideology of the group; indeed, the Onslow Ford collection was a clear representation of his artistic approach and ideology. My paper aims to analyse not only artworks he collected, but also the epistemological meaning that he gave to his collection as well as the relationship he established with museums and artists close to the Surrealist group after his move to the US in 2 1940. Emblematically, as soon as Onslow Ford joined the Surrealist group in 1937 he started to set up a Surrealist collection with the help of the leader of Surrealism, André Breton; and the collection increased rapidly. Onslow Ford's approach to art has been explained by the painter himself in 1938, in an article published in the parisian review " Minotaure ", he wrote indeed: "On peut constater que la matière n'est que l'ombre informe de la realité " a reality that – in his opinion – has to come out from the inner world of the artist and it can be visualized by the audience through paintings. It is right from this sentence that I would like to start the epistemologically analysis of Onslow Ford's collection as well as his act of collecting.

Speakers
avatar for Caterina Caputo

Caterina Caputo

Post-doc researcher, Center for the History of Collecting, The Frick Collection
I have received my PhD at the University of Florence, Pisa, and Siena and currently I am a post-doc researcher at the Center fort the History of Collecting at the Frick Collection in NY, with a project on the Gordon Onslow Ford’s collection. My work addresses topics at the crossway... Read More →
KS

Kristen Strange

Arizona State University
PT

Pierre Taminiaux

Georgetown University

Chairs
avatar for Patricia Allmer

Patricia Allmer

University of Edinburgh


Friday November 2, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am
Room B. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Humanities Lab (lower level)

9:00am

1.C. To Remake the Past: Duchamp and Warhol
PANEL. To Remake the Past: Duchamp and Warhol

“Surrealist Shop Windows: Art, Eroticism, and Consumption in Duchamp’s La Hune Bookshop Displays”
James Housefiield
University of California, Davis 
Like many of his cohort, Marcel Duchamp maintained a dynamic relationship with shop windows throughout his career.  Though historically marginalized in comparison to more durable and marketable works, shop window displays or “window dressings” made by Duchamp and his contemporaries (ranging from the dada and surrealist artists to Frederick Kiesler and Robert Rauschenberg) merit new analysis. This paper analyzes one such work, documented by a little-known photograph in the Philadelphia Museum of Art archives, that Duchamp installed at Librairie La Hune (Paris, 1946). The window display featured a photo of Duchamp playing chess, flanked by reproductions of a thematically linked pair of paintings by French artist Pierre-Auguste Cot. Cot’s paintings treated the theme of Paul et Virginie, the enormously popular 18th-century novel by Bernardin de Saint-Pierre. Duchamp likely chose these images for their layers of significance. Paul et Virginie – one of the most widely read “classics” in French literature simultaneously functions as a love story and a geographic treatise; Duchamp, fascinated by geography, was deeply entangled in a love affair with Brazilian sculptor Maria Martins at the time. Cot’s paintings earned record-shattering prices in auction during Duchamp’s lifetime and were displayed by the New York museums that purchased them (Metropolitan Museum and Brooklyn Museum). These were so widely reproduced during this time that they rivaled the Mona Lisa for recognizability; like Leonardo’s work, these were primarily known through reproductions. This paper analyzes how Duchamp’s shop window thus transmitted encoded commentaries on love, eroticism, and art’s currency as reproductions.

“Postwar Paris and the 1947 Exposition Internationale du Surréalisme: à refaire le passé”
James W. McManus
California State University, Chico 
Following his exile in New York during the war, in the spring of 1946, André Breton went home to Paris, taking with him a strong desire to re-establish surrealism’s prominence. Marcel Duchamp would soon arrive as well. The Paris they encountered was quite different from its pre-war self. It was challenging with competing and conflicting fighting and infighting over matters political and intellectual. It was in this intense climate that the 1947 Exposition Internationale Surréalisme was conceived. While Breton was comfortable in the combative climate, Duchamp was not. He returned to New York in January 1947. Working together until Duchamp’s departure appears to have given the two men time to collaborate on ideas and begin plans for the exhibition held at the Maeght Gallery from July 7 to the 30th of September, 1947. A close reading of the exhibition suggests that the two men came at the project from different perspectives resulting in overlapping agendas. Deeply committed to surrealism, Breton sought to restore the movement; promoting a new mythology and an international surrealism. To demonstrate surrealism’s vitality he solicited contributions to the exhibition from over one hundred surrealists scattered across twenty-four different countries on both sides of the Atlantic. In its final iteration the exhibition, treated visitors as initiates progressing from the Hall of Superstitions, to the Rain Room, and finally the Labyrinth; in route experiencing a series of ritual tests intended to provide access to ideal Knowledge through “spiritual progression.” With Breton in Paris, from his sanctuary in New York City, Duchamp continued his contributions to the exhibition. With this paper I offer that a second agenda was given shape – a sous-texte, and in part secret, playing on a dialogue between the Large Glass and his secret project, Étant donnés. Its author was Marcel Duchamp. Along with the cover design for the exhibition’s catalogue, important among his contributions to the exhibition were his design of the Rain Room and the Altar of the Juggler of Gravity. One of its elements was a clothing iron (le fer à repasser). On its base was the inscription à refaire le passé (the past is to be redone). This witty pun leads us to consider a probable double entendré. On the one hand is a sly rebuttal to Maurice Nadeau’s 1945 assessment that surrealism’s time had passed. The other presents itself as a cryptic reference to his secret project, Étant donnés.

“Arroser C’est La Vie: Andy Warhol’s Rain Machine and the Mirrorical Return of Marcel Duchamp’s Rain Room”
Anne Collins Goodyear
Bowdoin College Museum of Art 
Often overlooked, Andy Warhol’s Rain Machine (1969-71) is typically treated as an anomaly in the artist’s oeuvre. Only one contemporary critic, Jack Burnham, sought to provide an intellectual framework for Warhol’s seemingly bizarre construction. Noting similarities between Duchamp’s Rain Room, developed for the 1947 Surrealist exhibition at the Galerie Maeght, and Warhol’s piece, Burnham asked: “Could Warhol have had the same intention?” This paper addresses Burnham’s query, considering Warhol’s response to Duchamp’s complex installation as an excavation of a history that in just two decades had already become obscure. As I shall argue, the mid-1960s represented a moment, as the Pop artist sought to divorce himself from the legacy of Abstract Expressionism, to reexamine the suggestive richness of new directions in Surrealism. For Warhol the 1947 Surrealist exhibition, of which he owned a deluxe version of the Duchamp-designed catalogue, represented not the end of an era, but a point of departure replete with new paradigms of authorship, viewership, and conceptual engagement. Warhol’s Rain Machine, realized in 1971 in Los Angeles, only miles from the Pasadena Museum where Warhol and Duchamp first met, provides a meaningful engagement on Warhol’s part with dimensions of the elder artist’s career deserving further scrutiny. Bearing in mind Duchamp’s observation that the viewer completes the work of art, Warhol may himself serve as a sort of collaborator with the elder artist offering us new insights into just what has always made this little studied pair of works—Rain Machine and Rain Room—so slippery.

Speakers
avatar for Anne Collins Goodyear

Anne Collins Goodyear

Co-Director, Bowdoin College Museum of Art
Anne Collins Goodyear, Ph.D. is Co-Director of the Bowdoin College Museum of Art and President Emerita of CAA. Focused on the relationship of American art to science and technology, the construction of personal identity in modern and contemporary art, and the art of Marcel Duchamp... Read More →
avatar for James Housefield

James Housefield

University of California, Davis
First Papers of Surrealism, Experience design, Exhibition design, Surrealist exhibitions, Marcel Duchamp, Maria Martins, Elsa Schiaparelli, WWII, Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Librairie La Hune. PLAYING WITH EARTH AND SKY: Astronomy, Geography, and the Art of Marcel Duchamp (book).
avatar for James McManus

James McManus

California State University, Chico
James W. McManus is Emeritus Professor of Art History at California State University Chico. Previously he taught at the University of Washington and as a lecturer at a number of art colleges and universities in London, England. He has served on review panels for the National Endowment... Read More →

Chairs
avatar for Elliott King

Elliott King

Associate Professor of Art History, Washington & Lee


Friday November 2, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am
Room C. Vaughan Literature: Willard Smith Library (ground floor)

9:00am

1.D. Underlying Forms
PANEL. Underlying Forms

"Surréalisme, couleur du temps?"
Virginie Duzer
Pomona College

NOTE: this paper will be delivered in French
Taking as a point of departure the surrealist manifestos, as well as writings from Breton, Aragon, Desnos, Péret and Crevel, this paper aims at explaining how the famous surrealist focus on the image included the presence of colors. Because the surrealists used the photographic paradigm as a metaphor, and because, before the 1930’s rise of the “kodachrome”, every day popular pictures were usually either in black and white or painted, I will show that surrealist writings were initially themselves deprived of vivid colors, and that the coloring process was more similar to “quadrichromie” or CMYK, in that primary colors and black were added later. Amongst these three main colors, a hierarchy of preferences existed, and it could be argued that the (still present) poetic blue “azur” cherished by Baudelaire was replaced by a violent and bloody touch of Dadaist red. Left to Dostoyevsky’s description mocked by Breton in the 1924 Manifesto, the color yellow could first appear as being dismissed by surrealists – but that would mean forgetting the importance of light and explosion, as well as the fascination for women blonde hairs. Throughout my presentation, these literary findings will be confronted with the pictures, paintings and drawings of the same era, in order to question the surrealist relationship between what is to be read and what is to be seen.

"From the Marvelous to the Managerial: Life at the Surrealist Research Bureau"
Rachel Silveri
University of Florida
It has long been understood that surrealism was, in the words of Paul Éluard, “a state of mind” as much as it was an artistic project and a revolutionary endeavor. From Alfred Barr’s designation of surrealism as “a way of life” to Maurice Nadeau’s insistence that the movement “is neither written nor painted, it is lived,” historians and curators have varyingly positioned surrealism as a style of life, a way of living and being within the world. This paper advances the claim that one of the most concrete examples of surrealism “in life” resides in the creation of the Bureau de recherches surréalistes at the very start of the movement. Presenting a close reading of the Bureau’s Cahier de la permanence alongside artist correspondence and archival notes, my talk considers the various ways in which these artists fashioned themselves as employees of surrealism, often in a manner that mirrored dominant forms of office culture and organization in interwar France. In particular, I contend that the Bureau foregrounds André Breton’s ascendancy in the movement as a type of literal management, based in directing the actions of others. Here, surrealism as a way of life is no longer a vague abstraction nor a romantic ideal but rather the mire of actual power relationships revolving around Breton’s governance and administration. Towards conclusion, my talk offers a series of reflections on how Breton’s self-fashioning as manager persists and adapts with the global spread of the surrealist movement.

"Surrealist Commas: The Poetics and Politics of the List"
Lindsey Richter
Grace College
André Breton’s 1931 poem “Union libre” takes up a traditional 16th century poetic form, the “blason,” a listing and metaphorizing of parts of the female body, only to upend it, by constructing comparisons between his wife’s legs, eyes, lips and a proliferating series of concrete objects and abstractions. The same form would later be used by Paul Eluard in two blasons published in 1942. These instances of cataloguing in poetry parallel other interests of the Surrealists, who delighted in warping literary forms such as the dictionary and the glossary, and whose collections of objects ranged from primitive masks and fetishes to kitsch postcards. Irresistibly, the sewing machine and the umbrella multiply on the dissecting table. This paper argues that the list, seemingly a minor player limited to surrealist poetry, contributed to the breakdown in categories of genre and medium in the movement more broadly. In it, I will analyze surrealist list-making in poetry, objects, and art books from the 1930s to define a surrealist poetics of the series. These works probed at the very concept of category, using the list to destabilize its own founding principles. They form part of a new crise de vers that spurs the cross-contamination of forms in Surrealism in media such as the poème-objet. Furthermore, in constructing a non-hierarchized, non-ordered space, the list extended the movement’s revolutionary ideals into the poetry and art of the 1930s.

Speakers
avatar for Virginie Duzer

Virginie Duzer

Associate Professor of French, Pomona College
Virginie A. Duzer's first book focused on literary impressionism, and her current book project deals with colors. She is on the editorial board of the Cahiers Benjamin Péret, and has published several articles about this poet.
LR

Lindsey Richter

Grace College
avatar for Rachel Silveri

Rachel Silveri

Assistant Professor, University of Florida
Rachel Silveri is an Assistant Professor in the School of Art + Art History at the University of Florida. Her talk for the SURREALISMS conference comes from her current book manuscript, "The Art of Living in the Historical Avant-Garde: Artistic Self-Making in Interwar Paris," which... Read More →

Chairs
ND

Nathalie Dupont

Associate Professor of French; Director of French and Francophone Studies, Bucknell University


9:00am

1.E. Poetry and Experimental Practice
PANEL. Poetry and Experimental Practice

“Australian Surrealism and the ‘Ern Malley’ Experiments: Surrealist Poetics in Angry Penguins"
Gavin Yates
Monash University

Max Harris founded Angry Penguins (1940-1946)—Australia’s first literary journal to sympathise with surrealism—with the intention of launching Australian poetry into the ‘stream of European feeling and thought’, while subverting a prevailing cultural conservatism. Already a popular form of expression amongst the vanguard of Australian artists, surrealism’s literary inception can be ascribed to Harris’s 1939 statement, that his poetry is ‘Australian surrealism’. Via close analysis of the articles and poetry published in Angry Penguins, I will identify a deviation from surrealism’s original principles, resulting in the reduction of its avant-gardist character. In so doing, the Angry Penguins writers produced poetry, constrained within formalist parameters, in the vein of technically distinguishable models such as Dylan Thomas and the English ‘New Apocalypse’, nullifying surrealism’s radical approach. In 1940s Australia, public reception rebuked the Angry Penguins’ espousal of dream and the unconscious, which culminated in the infamous ‘Ern Malley’ hoax. Ironically, the two conservative poets, James McAuley and Harold Stewart, who collaborated on the ‘Ern Malley’ collection, The Darkening Ecliptic (1944), I will argue, produced the period’s most convincing example of literary surrealism, due to their unconstrained use of free associative, and chance-generated, techniques. In this neglected field of Australian literature scholarship has mainly focused on the event of the ‘Ern Malley’ hoax: instead, my paper will examine the Australian surrealists’ claims to, and practice of, surrealist poetics, in critical comparison with the collaborative approach of ‘Ern Malley’, against the turbulent backdrop of Australia’s earliest encounter with literary surrealism.

“The Black Magic of the Surrealists”: Mina Loy’s Surrealist Experimentations"
Diane Drouin
Sorbonne Université

The British artist Mina Loy was at the forefront of the European avant-gardes. She began her career as a painter in the 1910s, and witnessed the emergence of the Futurist movement in Italy, before observing the development of the Parisian Surrealist scene in the 1920s. Loy’s poetic career bloomed with her collection Lunar Baedeker (1923), at the moment when André Breton published his first Manifesto of Surrealism (1924). This paper will focus on the dialogue between Loy’s autobiographical texts in prose and her works of art. I will argue that Loy articulated French and British Surrealist æsthetics, experimenting with both verbal and plastic techniques, in works shaped by free associations, dreams, hallucinations, and visions. Her painting Surreal Scene, for example, represents a fragmented female body caught in between an hourglass, a ribcage, and a bicycle, conjuring up an alternative reality characterized by the struggle of conscious thoughts with the unconscious. Drawing on Freudian, Lacanian, and Derridian theories, I will adopt a psychoanalytic perspective to explore Loy’s autobiographical novel Insel set in Paris in the 1930s. Loy portrays a bohemian artist deemed “too surrealist for the surrealists,” inspired by the German painter Richard Oelze, and whose magnetism relies on his “conjurative power of projecting images.” This will lead me to analyze Loy’s approach to occultism and to what she calls “the black magic of the surrealists.” I will examine how Loy devises strategies of fragmentation in her textual and visual self-representations, “on the unexplored frontiers of consciousness.”

"The New York School’s Surrealist Inheritance"
Andrew King
University of Iowa

In this essay I perform close readings of poems by John Ashbery, Frank O’Hara, Kenneth Koch, and Barbara Guest in an attempt to answer the question of whether these key members of the New York School were Surrealists and, if so, in what aspects and to what degrees. Though these poets’ Surrealist credentials are often taken for granted, they were not infrequently disputed or qualified by the poets themselves. Auden’s warning to O’Hara, in his letter of rejection for the Yale Younger Poets prize in 1955, not to “confuse authentic non-logical relations which arouse wonder with accidental ones which arouse mere surprise and in the end fatigue” provides one possible distinction with which we might cleave the New York School from the Surrealists. I derive another from a 1991 interview of Kenneth Koch by Richard Kostelanetz, in which Koch construes O’Hara’s body of work as always returning to “ordinary reality”; I examine the extent to which Koch’s claim is borne out by close readings of O’Hara’s corpus. Following these and other leads, I suggest that what might unify the New York School with certain Surrealist predecessors is not so much agreement on subject matter as on the nature and status of poetic procedure—the methods by which poems are constructed, and the formal qualities they take on as a result.

Speakers
avatar for Diane Drouin

Diane Drouin

Ph.D. Student, Sorbonne Université
AD

Andrew David King

University of Iowa
avatar for Gavin Yates

Gavin Yates

Monash University

Chairs
avatar for Felicity Gee

Felicity Gee

University of Exeter


Friday November 2, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am
Room E. Bertrand Library: East Reading Room (second floor)

10:00am

The Crutch Room (installation)
The Crutch Room is an installation/immersive environment created by poet G.C. Waldrep and multimedia artist Steven Sherrill.  The installation includes some 700 crutches scavenged from a shuttered Pennsylvania hospital, with accompany sound installation.  Our hope, as practitioners, is that the Crutch Room will constitute an immersive ancillary environment, in effect a pocket universe, to which conference participants may repair.  Hugo Ball wrote, "One must be astonished totally, yet more and more softly.  This is how eternity wonders at the times and changes them.  One must wonder at the wonders.  And also at the wounds, the deepest and last wounds, and elevate them to the wondrous.”  Medbh McGuckian defines "the really faithful / memory" as "the part of a wound / that goes quiet."

Friday November 2, 2018 10:00am - 5:00pm
Elaine Langone Center, Room 275

10:30am

Break
Coffee, tea and snacks in Hildreth-Mirza Hall

Friday November 2, 2018 10:30am - 11:00am
Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Great Room (ground floor)

11:00am

2.A. Site Specificity
PANEL. Site Specificity

“Afro-Surrealism in the Antietam National Battlefield”
Jeffrey Hogrefe
Pratt Institute

The erasure of multiple narratives in the National Park Service Civil War monuments which could have commemorated the abolition of slavery has had the effect of freezing past events in crystalline moments that privilege the universalist image of the White soldier and White slave owning townspeople in a simulacrum. The Abolitionist Landscape Project proposes that the human capacity to monumentalize that is supported by capital formations of material practices in the battlefields and historic towns can be acted on and against by the human capacity to locate interpretive practices that focus on landscape as the singular origin of all meanings and walkers as co-creators of the landscape in time and space. The Afro-surrealist interpretation of a section of the Antietam National Battlefield presented in this paper sets out to reorder, in uncanny juxtapositions, the events and objects that contain the memory of the Indigenous and enslaved African that are contained rhizomatically in the landscape. A global, transhistorical practice, Afro-Surrealism is in pursuit of liberation from the economic forces that support the militarization of landscape and language. As it seeks to unravel and reorder new imaginary potential for the everyday and ordinary, Afro-surrealism offers a possible rupture in the text of the place to allow the space of Africa to emerge in the Potomac River Valley. The N.P.S. functions to shore up the capitalist and neocolonial state. Afro-surrealism presupposes that beyond this visible world, there is an invisible world striving to manifest, and it is our job to uncover it.

“Anticolonial Anthropocene Surrealism: Time, Noise, Ecology, and Inhumanism in Basma Alsharif’s Deep Sleep and Wirephobia’s Lebanon’s Fatal Noise Walls
Sean Matharoo
University of California, Riverside

In this paper, I read Palestinian filmmaker Basma Alsharif’s experimental short Deep Sleep (2014) and Iraqi musician Wirephobia’s harsh noise wall album Lebanon’s Fatal Noise Walls (2017) as examples of what I am calling “Anticolonial Anthropocene Surrealism” (AAS). I maintain that AAS is a part of other surrealisms because its poetics invests objects with subjective meaning and affirms the liberating power of the imagination in language. But, I contend that AAS is conceptually distinct from other surrealisms because of its commitment to combatting colonial violence and the Anthropocene, the present geological epoch marked by humankind’s carbon signature. Such a commitment is reflected in Alsharif and Wirephobia’s exploration of alternative temporalities, formalist noise, ecology, and philosophical inhumanism. In her hypnotic study of ruins in Greece and Malta, Alsharif mobilizes a stroboscopic and haptic audiovisual language to (bi-)locate herself in Palestine and elaborate a failed attempt to locate colonial trauma in the deep time of geology. By lingering on a monolithic wall of static noise, Wirephobia’s album is a sonic katabasis into the colonial traumas of the Lebanese civil war. Both concatenate temporalities critical of the spatial-visual epistemology that would presuppose colonial divisions. This presupposition would inadvertently make the argument that all groups of people considered to be non-human from the perspective of reason are excluded from life in the same way. I demonstrate that, as works of AAS, they instead allow for an ecological approach to transcultural solidarity that contributes to the ongoing global project of inhumanism.

"Alice Rahon and the Importance of Place"
Danielle Johnson
Vero Beach Museum of Art
Alice Rahon (1904-1987), a prolific and inventive Surrealist poet and painter, is little known outside of Mexico. Rahon was born in France and became involved with the Surrealist movement in the 1930s. During World War II, she and her husband Wolfgang Paalen moved to Mexico, where she chose to reside for the remainder of her life. This paper examines the importance of place in Rahon’s writing and artwork. Art historians have tied Rahon’s painted landscapes and cityscapes to the familiar Surrealist idea of the vast, unchartered landscape of the unconscious mind. Yet her work notably refers to specific locations she has experienced, intertwining their atmosphere, history, and myths with broader Surrealist themes. Rahon traveled extensively in her life, taking inspiration from India, Cuba, the Pacific Northwest, Alaska, Canada, Lebanon, and, most importantly, from Mexico. Her earliest Surrealist poetry evokes the landscapes from her childhood on the coast of France, while her second published book of poetry was inspired by her time in India. Many of her paintings similarly represent exact places in Europe, Africa, the United States, or Mexico. Despite early international exposure and her significant affect on Mexican modern art, Rahon disappeared from the art world by the 1960s and her work has not been sufficiently studied or exhibited. This paper begins to remedy the lack of sustained scholarly attention by showing that her dominant subjects, written and painted landscapes and cityscapes, are often linked to the specific geography and history of the places she lived and visited, rather than reflecting an undefined inner landscape of the mind.

Speakers
JH

Jeffrey Hogrefe

Pratt Institute
DJ

Danielle Johnson

Vero Beach Museum of Art
avatar for Sean Matharoo

Sean Matharoo

Ph.D. Candidate and Graduate Instructor, University of California, Riverside
Sean Matharoo is a Ph.D. candidate of Comparative Literature at University of California, Riverside, where he is writing his dissertation on French, Francophone and Anglophone speculative fiction and philosophy. He has published his research in Horror Studies and Green Letters, book... Read More →

Chairs
avatar for Erika Doss

Erika Doss

University of Notre Dame


Friday November 2, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm
Room A. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Great Room Annex (ground floor)

11:00am

2.B. Cinematic Imagination
PANEL. Cinematic Imagination

"Len Lye as Interlocutor: British Film and Surrealist Photography"
Rachel Hutcheson
Columbia University

Len Lye was an interdisciplinary artist involved in a number of art movements including Surrealism, British Documentary Film, and Kinetic Art with a career that spanned Australia, Great Britain, and the United States. He is best known for innovative promotional films made for the General Post Office Film Unit in the 1930s that incorporated new ways of animation using a variety of direct filmmaking techniques: “scratch film,” direct painting, camera-less photography, and vivid color processes. Concurrent with this rich period of filmmaking, Lye participated in the 1936 International Surrealism Exhibition in London, exhibiting a painting and two photograms. The current scholarship on Lye and Surrealism focuses on the artist’s reading of Freud, his use of primitivism, and engagement with bodily cinema. Lye is not included in surveys of Surrealist cinema, a definition usually referring to films like Luis Bunuel’s Un Chien Andalou (1929). Such films use juxtaposition and dream-like incongruities within a narrative structure to release the viewer’s unconscious drives. However, I argue that Lye’s films call for a reconsideration of Surrealist film beyond the dream-like. By analyzing photo-construction book covers Lye designed as well as two collage films: Trade Tattoo (1937) and Rhythm (1957), I highlight the strategy of photographic appropriation. This tactic is apparent in both Surrealist’s appropriation of photographs by others, like those by Atget, which they included in their publications and Joseph Cornell’s collage film, Rose Hobart (1936). A Colour Box (1935), Rainbow Dance (1936), and Trade Tattoo (1937) reveal influence from British film and Surrealism and demonstrate the transference of appropriation strategies between media.

"Surrealism as Strategy in the Spanish Avant-Garde"
Maite Barragán
Albright College

Scholars have identified Esencia de verbena, a short film depicting Madrid’s summer fairs (verbenas) by Ernesto Giménez Caballero, as a Surrealist-inflected film. The film’s fast-paced cuts, inventive perspectives, and innovative montages demonstrate the director’s engagement with Surrealist techniques. The director’s references to contemporary aesthetics befit the film’s intended audience composed of the attendees of the 1930 avant-garde International Film Congress celebrated in Brussels. Yet, it is notable that today the work is seen as a response to Surrealism as opposed to a Surrealist work in its own right. This paper examines Giménez Caballero’s film in relation to the development of Surrealism in Spain during the 1920s and 1930s. Esencia de verbena is the entry point from where to explore and reassess the broader understanding of Surrealism in Spain. Although Surrealist peninsular activity developed with knowledge of André Breton’s collective, it distinguishes itself by the way artists worked independently and deployed Surrealist aesthetics in support of both fascist and communist ideologies. I argue that Surrealism’s inherent elasticity was exploited by Spanish artists as a strategy that allowed them to project their investigations inwards, looking to national identity while retaining international currency. As such, Esencia de verbena elevates the fairs, characterized by their combination of religious devotion with sensuous appetites, to signifiers of Spain as a Surrealist nation. Giménez Caballero reassigns meanings to historical monuments and anachronistic traditions and aligns them to the subversion and eroticism appreciated by Surrealists. Thus, the film’s aesthetics imbued Spanish difference with avant-garde relevance.

"Time and Time Again: The Implications of Joseph Cornell’s Cinematic Imagination"
Robin Blaetz
Mount Holyoke College

The artist Joseph Cornell is known for making exquisite boxes and collages that seem to capture imagined times and places with the delicate juxtaposition of diverse and unusual material. Much has been written about these works in relation to Cornell’s eccentric life, his personal obsessions, and particularly in relation to the Surrealist artists who befriended him in the early to mid-20th century. In fact, Cornell is considered by many to be the most important of the very few American Surrealists. What is less studied with any depth is his relation with a mode of artistic exploration that he launched in the mid-1930s with a film called Rose Hobart, and which attracted him ever more over the course of his life—the cinema. With an understanding of his affiliation with the medium of film, particularly to film’s relation to time and its status as an indexical art form, Cornell’s boxes and collages come into focus in a way that reveals a frequently underestimated depth and seriousness. I will not be making an argument for the value of Cornell’s films, intriguing and beautiful though they are, nor am I concerned with his attraction to movie stars. Instead I want to explore his particular understanding of the cinema formed by his exposure to early film as a collector and exhibitor, his spiritual sensibility, his investment in the found object, and his montage aesthetic.

Speakers
MB

Maite Barragán

Albright College
RB

Robin Blaetz

Chair of Film Studies; Professor of Film Studies, Mount Holyoke College
avatar for Rachel Hutcheson

Rachel Hutcheson

Phd Student, Columbia University

Chairs
avatar for Mark Tursi

Mark Tursi

Adjunct Professor, Marymount Manhattan College & New Jersey City University
Mark Tursi is the author of four books of poetry: Brutal Synecdoche, The Impossible Picnic, Shiftless Days, and, forthcoming in fall 2018, The Uncanny Valley. He is one of the founding editors of Apostrophe Books, an innovative press devoted to publishing poetry that intersects philosophy... Read More →


Friday November 2, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm
Room B. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Humanities Lab (lower level)

11:00am

2.C. Mina Loy and Transatlantic Surrealism
PANEL. Mina Loy & Trans-Atlantic Surrealism
 
Artist, poet, playwright, novelist, inventor, and entrepreneur, Mina Loy (1882-1966) moved in the circles of Futurism, Dada, and Surrealism and migrated among major metropolitan centers of avant-garde activity, including Paris, Florence, Rome, New York, London, and Berlin, from the 1910s to the 1950s. Loy’s interest in avant-garde experiment was shaped by her progressive attitudes on feminism, gender, and sexuality, and led her to self-consciously assume a critical position on the margins of these movements. Loy objected to the sexism of the Surrealist movement, and never identified as a Surrealist, yet was nevertheless inspired by Surrealism, writing in a 1931 letter to Julien and Joella Levy that it was the only art movement that "could be wholly satisfactory" (Fort, In Wonderland). Although Loy played an active role in Surrealist circles in both Paris (1921-36) and New York (1937-53), she has been relegated to minor parts in Surrealism’s histories and theories: she is missing from most Surrealist histories and exhibitions, and remains marginal even in recent studies of women and Surrealism. As a former participant in New York Dada and widow of Dada icon Arthur Cravan, Mina Loy was held in high esteem by the French Surrealists. From 1931-36, following her daughter Joella’s marriage to Julien Levy, Loy served as the Paris agent for the Levy Gallery, which not only held the first Surrealist exhibition in New York in 1932, but throughout the 1930s and 1940s served as the premier American gallery for Surrealist work of all kinds. As the agent in Paris who commissioned art and arranged its purchase and transportation to Levy, Mina Loy was central to Surrealism’s trans-Atlantic career and reception in the United States. But she was also involved in Surrealism’s New York manifestation as an artist who exhibited her paintings at the Levy Gallery in 1933, and as a writer who engaged Surrealism in her poetry and in her novel Insel, which she began in Paris but completed after she moved to New York. In New York Loy would continue to reflect on and transform Surrealist ideas and techniques in her poems and assemblages of the 1940s and early 50s, many occasioned by her experience living on the Bowery. Loy’s dialogue with the Surrealist movement begins in the 1920s, but her engagement with Surrealist ideas and practices is anticipated by her earlier work shaped by her affiliations with Futurism and Dada, and continues into the 1960s in the U.S., by which point many of the Surrealists in New York during World War Two had returned to Europe. Just as Mina Loy’s work benefits from analysis in the context of Surrealism, it also invites us to rethink Surrealism’s history, definition, and trans-Atlantic career.
 
“‘Easily as an aria relayed across the Atlantic’: Surrealism in transit in Loy’s 'Visitation of Insel'”
Sarah Hayden
University of Southampton

Mina Loy’s Insel—the hallucinatory prose portrait she confected out of the skeleton of the German surrealist painter, Richard Oelze—is often referred to as her surrealist novel. However, it is in the ‘Visitation of Insel’—the excised one-time addendum to that novel—that she set about trying to ‘to demonstrate how [the surrealist] “worked”.’ In the 1930s, Loy, in parallel with Surrealism itself, made the trans-Atlantic transfer from Paris to New York. In the same period, she was developing an avatar of surrealist artisthood that overcomes the ambits of both time and space. Written in or around 1938, the ‘Visitation’ text figures the surrealist as a transtemporal, bilocating entity. Her ‘Sur-Realist Being’ stretches across time: existing at once in the deep past, the future and everywhere (or when) in between. Along the way, he sheds the prostheses made redundant by his ongoing though already-achieved evolution. Summoned by unconscious drives, activated by repressed needs, he is ‘awakened by desire—eclipsed by ennuie’. Galvanizing, magical, even medicinal, he materializes where and when needed. His significance, as exemplar of a surrealism that transcends its location and moment, remains unexplored. Taking up this recently recovered fragment and re-orienting Loy’s writings and paintings around it, my paper will use the ‘Visitation of Insel’ to excavate the potentiality of Mina Loy’s unrooted, unending Surrealism.

"Mina Loy, Surrealist Painting, and the 1933 Julien Levy Gallery Exhibition"
Susan Rosenbaum
University of Georgia

Mina Loy's reputation today rests chiefly on her poetry. Yet she began her career as a painter, exhibiting work at the Salon D'Automne, the Futurist Exposition in Rome, and the Independent Artists Exhibition in New York, and continued to paint, draw, sculpt, and create collages and assemblages through the early 1960s. Her engagement with Dada and Surrealism in Paris and New York was particularly generative, resulting in solo exhibitions at the Julien Levy Gallery (1933) and the Bodley Gallery (1959). Unfortunately Loy's visual art is scattered in private collections and many pieces have been lost, contributing to her marginal place in art history. This paper will discuss Loy’s 1933 Levy Gallery exhibition as well as a sequence of paintings from the 1930s that were never shown, with the aim of demonstrating their importance to the history of women and Surrealism. From 1930-36 Loy was immersed in Surrealist visual art as Paris agent for the Levy Gallery, and her 1930 painting Surreal Scene and her novel Insel offer critical, feminist reflections on Surrealism's treatment and representation of women, even as she adapted Surrealist techniques. Loy's 1930s paintings depict hybrid creatures and what Loy biographer Carolyn Burke calls "primordial shapes in the act of becoming." Photos taken by Maurice Poplin (Beinecke Collection, "Julien Levy Gallery 1933"), depict two works exhibited in 1933, but chiefly document a

Speakers
SH

Sarah Hayden

University of Southampton
SR

Susan Rosenbaum

University of Georgia

Chairs
ED

Erica Delsandro

Assistant Professor of Women's and Gender Studies, Bucknell


Friday November 2, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm
Room C. Vaughan Literature: Willard Smith Library (ground floor)

11:00am

2.D. Surrealist Costume: Dissolving Borders
PANEL. Surrealist Costume: Dissolving Borders

This panel highlights the various ways in which artists usually associated with Surrealism have employed costume, be it theatrical costume, fashion design, and/or fancy dress. At the same time, this panel also explores artists and designers who have followed the aims and ideals of Surrealism in the field of costume, but who may be set at a distance from Surrealism, either by the Surrealists themselves or by subsequent writings of the movement’s history. Our objective is to explore how these artists, both within and distanced from Surrealism, have used costume to dissolve or transgress borders, or deepen an already existing dialogue. From a methodological point of view, the papers engage with both Surrealist and non-Surrealist elements in their analysis. The ultimate aim is to explore the various opportunities provided by costume for a hypothetical re-writing of traditional categories and histories of Surrealism. This panel contains four individual papers exploring specific case-studies, followed by discussion.

"References and echoes of Surrealism in the fashion design of Jean-Paul Gaultier. From the costumes for Madonna's Blonde Ambition tour to the collection Les Surréalistes"
Teresa Lucia Cicciarella
Università della Tuscia 
This paper reflects on the way some forms and themes of Surrealism influenced the work of the fashion designer Jean-Paul Gaultier. In his work contrasting styles and visions are blended together, often with a fusion and overlapping of gendered identities and with a wide choice of unusual materials. The paper takes into account the work of Gaultier from the early Nineties –with the costumes for the Blonde Ambition tour (1990) of the iconic pop star Madonna that reveals the echo of some visions of particular Surrealist artists, filtered through the work of the Italian painter Fabrizio Clerici in 1940-1950 (as seen from Gaultier in the MoMA Collection)-, up to the haute couture collection named Les Surréalistes (2006), where forms and themes related to Surrealism find interesting peaks in the reinterpretation of the Skeleton Dress (1938) by Elsa Schiaparelli and Salvador Dalí, and in other clothes, hats and hairstyles that recall the imagerie of Schiaparelli, Dalí and Cocteau.

"The Grotesque and Surrealism in the Work of Fashion Designer Martin Margiela"
Francesca Granata

Parsons School for Design
This paper will explore the interconnection between contemporary experimental fashion, the grotesque canon and Surrealism, with a particular focus on the work of Belgian designer Martin Margiela. It will investigate Surreal traces in his clothing and accessories, fashion shows and exhibitions. Following in the steps of Schiaparelli, Martin Margiela’s work engaged with farcical discrepancies achieved through playing with a garment’s traditional function. One of Margiela’s best-known designs, the Tabi Shoes, emphasized a relatively hidden body part: the space between the big toe and adjacent one. It was often read as unsettling, comic and grotesque. Together with Tabi gloves (a hybrid between a mitten and a five finger glove) they point to different configurations of body anatomy by upsetting traditional relations of body and clothes. This comical incongruity can be observed throughout his work from the photo printing of different textiles onto cotton, thus creating a trompe-l'oeil effect, to the transformation of socks into gloves. The paper will discuss how Margiela’s work in its farcical incongruities and challenges to boundaries and reconfiguration of the body can be read in relation to the grotesque canon and Surrealism.

"Styling the Surreal Woman? Hat designs by Leonor Fini and Leonora Carrington"
Rachael Grew
Loughborough University
In 1952, Leonor Fini received a commission to design a series of fantastical hats, and she asked her friend and colleague Leonora Carrington to collaborate on them with her. Though the six resulting designs were never produced, they represent an interesting engagement with contemporary mainstream fashion, as well as exemplifying the ways in which Fini and Carrington sought to transgress the normative boundaries of femininity and the female body. This paper will explore how these designs embody the Surrealist rejection of the rational, individualistic self in favour of an irrational, multiple self; constantly in flux. Ultimately, it will argue that the designs collapse distinctions between human/animal, animate/inanimate, and even erase the physical borders of the body itself, to evoke a complex, multiple, and rebellious manifestation of the feminine.

"Leonor Fini and the costume. From the bal masqué to the theatrical costume design between surrealist recalls and its distances"
Valentina Vacca
Università della Tuscia 
Between the end of the Second World War and the Fifties, the Parisian bal masqué summoned numerous artists and designers who had been more or less linked to Surrealism. Between them, there was Leonor Fini who was always inclined to disguise and, on this occasion, delighted herself in making eccentric costumes which never failed to amaze Paris. Shortly afterwards, the artist turned her attention to the theatrical costume, an activity where she dedicated her attention until the early Seventies. However, there was a big conceptual difference between the costumes created for the Parisian dances and those designed for the numerous theatrical shows set in Rome and Paris from 1944 until 1972. The former, in fact, seems to respond more to a Surrealist line; the latter sometimes reflects her paintings in which she tried to break with Surrealism, sometimes aims to describe a specific historical time, so much that talking about a “philological reconstruction of the costume” would be possible. The paper therefore aims to make a comparison between these two different conceptions of costumes designed by Leonor Fini: the more Surrealist for the dances compared to the theatrical costumes in which she actually seems to have really found her way in breaking with Surrealism; more so than in her painting.

Speakers
avatar for Teresa Lucia Cicciarella

Teresa Lucia Cicciarella

Università degli Studi della Tuscia
I received my PhD in 2015 from Tuscia University with a thesis about the wallpaper as a medium of contemporary art, titled: “From background to foreground. Wallpaper as artwork from the Sixties to the present”.I specialized in Contemporary Art History and Criticism at the University... Read More →
avatar for Francesca Granata

Francesca Granata

Assistant Professor, School of Art and Design History and Theory, Parsons School for Design
Assistant Professor, School of Art and Design History and Theory
avatar for Rachael Grew

Rachael Grew

Lecturer in Art History and Visual Culture, Loughborough University
VV

Valentina Vacca

Università della Tuscia

Chairs
avatar for Rachael Grew

Rachael Grew

Lecturer in Art History and Visual Culture, Loughborough University


Friday November 2, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm
Room D. Bertrand Library: Traditional Reading Room (second floor)

11:00am

2.E. The Journal of Surrealism and the Americas 10 Years On--Roundtable
ROUNDTABLE.  The Journal of Surrealism and the Americas 10 Years On

The Journal of Surrealism and the Americas was one of the first multidisciplinary scholarly online only journals dedicated to the surrealist diaspora and indigenous responses to it. The first issue of the JSA ejournal appeared in 2007, and its mission continues to focus on the work and interaction of Surrealists and surrealist ideology in the Americas, including North and South America, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Canada. In its early years, the JSA was driven by its specialized conferences on the subject, which took place in 2006 and 2010. This roundtable discussion reunites editors of the ejournal with key contributors and collaborators over the JSA’s first decade. We’ll discuss the challenges facing a specialized and multilingual surrealist ejournal which navigates a landscape of similarly focused in-print journals and intense public interest. We’ll also consider the future of the ejournal’s specialized regional conference on Surrealism in an era of shrinking university funding for the arts and humanities.

Samantha Kavky
Pennsylvania State University, Berks


Susan Aberth
Bard College

Kate Conley
William & Mary

Michele Greet 
George Mason University

Terri Geis
Fowler Museum at UCLA

Speakers
avatar for Susan Aberth

Susan Aberth

Associate Professor, Bard College
avatar for Kate Conley

Kate Conley

William & Mary
I'm working now on surrealist collections, an outgrowth of my book on Surrealist Ghostliness (initially inspired by my book on Robert Desnos), and the poetry of Kay Sage, a continuation of my career-long dedication to women and surrealism.
TG

Terri Geis

Fowler Museum at UCLA
MG

Michele Greet

George Mason University

Chairs
SK

Samantha Kavky

Pennsylvania State University, Berks


Friday November 2, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm
Room E. Bertrand Library: East Reading Room (second floor)

11:00am

2.F. Soups for the Anthropological Subconscious
PANEL. Soups for the Anthropological Subconscious

This panel brings into ongoing conversation three writers working in the permeable, multi- directional membrane of the purported critical/creative divide. Two in the flesh (Thompson and Garcia), and a third via pre-recorded video (Taussig). With special attention to the way in which poetic and mimetic modes trouble anthropological flashpoints in fetish, kinship, archive, ritual, play, and magic, each will present a dense fragment of fictocritical work peeking at life through the poetic logics of surrealisms past and present. Following the opening salvo of the conference prompt, announcing the approaching centennial of Breton’s Manifesto, we take as our framing device a constellation of temporal signposts, along with their residues, reverberations, remainders, and resilient subsumptions, which together speak to the discursive waters in which surrealism, literature, and anthropology flash like stars beneath us: the 30th anniversary of James Clifford’s The Predicament of Culture (with its seminal essay “On Ethnographic Surrealism”), the 50th anniversary of the publication of Malinowski’s diaries (an event through which anthropology discovered its subconscious), the 50th anniversary of the protests of 1968, the 100th anniversary of the Russian Revolution, the 170th anniversary of the European revolutions of 1848, all reaching back to the 200th anniversary of the twin births of Karl Marx and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. We imagine this ensemble of readings, analyses, and audiovisual conjurations—which explore surrealist murk in the Americas, Africa, and Southeast Asia, dark stars all of the so-called Global South—as a polyphonic performance masquerading as a conference panel. At the conclusion of the performative portion, Thompson and Garcia—with Taussig as a remote, yet never too-distant interlocutor—will engage in critical dialogue about the nexus of ethical, aesthetic, and political concerns that compel them to hazard the risks (and joys) of pursuing distinctly surrealist fictocritical work in the face of the increasingly rigid strictures of neoliberal academe.

Rachel Thompson will present a fragment from her film Extinction Number Six (2011)—which tracks an eccentric narrator’s quixotic search for the material traces of Java’s colonial, mystical, and paleontological past—before reading from a work-in-progress that picks up where Extinction leaves off. In Meat Bag, Thompson attempts metabolize, to assimilate through soup, a bag of sacrificial cow meat—gifted, once removed, on the occasion of Eid al-Adha, by a reviled/revered former Indonesian military general and failed presidential hopeful now wagering a comeback fueled by fear, wherein he purports to divine Indonesia’s imminent dissolution from a single line within the American sci-fi novel Ghost Fleet.  

Edgar Garcia will perform from his forthcoming work, Skins of Columbus: An Ethnography of Colonial Dreamlands (Fence Books, 2019), in which he uses his dreams to journey the landscapes and living history of the deep myth of colonial power in the Americas, the journals of Christopher Columbus. Skins of Columbus is an ethnological collection of objects, poems, essays, collages, and family stories that documents those dreamlands.
 
Michael Taussig, via pre-recorded video, will read from his latest work Palma Africana (University of Chicago Press, 2018), an avowedly serpentine, phantasmagorical text that creeps alongside, and at times merges with its object of inquiry: the ecocidal incursion of Colombia’s latest commodity fetish, Elaeis guineensis, or African oil palm. Steeped in decades of ethnographic and philosophical attention to the conflicting cultural narratives forged in the wake of violent colonial encounter, Taussig’s latest text enacts, once again, an explicit confrontation with “the fiction of the real,” modeling what it might mean to write in a fictocritical key—through, with, and against dense clouds of epistemic murk.


Rachel Thompson
Harvard University


Edgar Garcia
The University of Chicago


Michael Taussig (via pre-recorded video)
Columbia University

Speakers
EG

Edgar Garcia

University of Chicago
RT

Rachel Thompson

Harvard University

Chairs
RT

Rachel Thompson

Harvard University


Friday November 2, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm
Room F. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Large Seminar Room (first floor)

12:00pm

Mystic Detectives (exhibition)
Exhibition: Samek Art Museum (ELC Third Floor)
Mystic Detectives explores the influences and echoes of Surrealism in contemporary art. These artists create imagery that taps the subconscious through abjection, humor and cognitive dissonance. They use these strategies to present diverse perspectives, socially aware art, and to tackle contemporary questions. These artists go beyond the canon of historic Surrealism and take the viewer to unfamiliar places.

Friday November 2, 2018 12:00pm - 5:00pm
Samek Art Museum (ELC Third Floor)

12:30pm

Lunch
Lunch is served in two rooms on the 2nd Floor of the Elaine Langone Center:

1. Walls Lounge
2. Center Room

Friday November 2, 2018 12:30pm - 1:45pm
Elaine Langone Center (second floor)

2:00pm

3.A. La Main à Plume et après
PANEL. La Main à Plume et après

NOTE: the papers in this panel will be delivered in French

"Les activités surréalistes en Belgique déroulées autour de Magritte sous l'Occupation"
Eiko Suita
Nihon University

En 1943 à Bruxelles sous l'Occupation, René Magritte change radicalement sa manière de peindre et éxécute des tableaux selon une technique empruntée aux impressionnistes. Ces tableaux ont été exposés dans l'atmosphère clandestine et les expostions ont suscité les attaques par des collaborateurs nazis. Les publications successives de monographies sur Magritte ont aussi fonctionné comme une sorte de manifeste, dont l'auteur est respectivement Marcel Mariën et Paul Nougé. Durant l'hiver 1945-1946 après la Libération, Magritte organise la grande exposition «Surréalisme» à Bruxelles qui, d'après Mariën, est la «première manifestation collective de ce genre depuis la guerre». Dans le catalogue de l'exposition on voit les mots de Nougé qui ironisent sur le surréalisme d’André Breton: «Exégètes, si vous voulez y voir clair, rayez le mot surréalisme». Encouragé par le succès de cette exposition, Magritte nomme sa nouvelle tendance picturale «Le Surréalisme en plein soleil» et considère qu'elle indique le chemin que devrait prendre le surréalisme après la guerre. Il a essayé de faire comprendre ses idées à Breton de retour, mais Magritte a été rejeté. Ainsi sont nés des manifestes écrits de la part de Magritte dont la plupart sont restés inédits. C'est à ce moment-là que Christian Dotremont invite Magritte et ses amis au Surréalisme révolutionnaire. Magritte n'a pas participé à ce groupe, mais on ne pourrait pas négliger son influence sur ces activités de la nouvelle génération. Son rôle relativement dirigeant parmi les surréalistes belges remonte jusqu'en 1940 où il organisait avec le photographe Raoul Ubac L'Invention collective. Cette revue ne compte que deux numéro à cause de l'invasion de la Belgique par l'Allemagne nazie, mais elle était la première occasion de faire collabobrer les surréalistes de trois régions: Bruxelles, Mons (Hainaut) et Paris. D'après Mariën, c'est cette revue qui a poussé Dotremont à contacter les surréalistes bruxellois.

"Le surréalisme-révolutionnaire et la réorganisation de groupes d’avant-garde"
Shindô Hisano
Université de Matsuyama

En 1947 est formé le groupe appelé «le surréalisme-révolutionnaire», qui a levé l’étendard de la révolte contre André Breton revenant des Etats-Unis en 1946. Les deux dirigeants principaux du surréalisme-révolutionnaire, Noël Arnaud et Christian Dotremont, avaient participé au groupe surréaliste sous l’Occupation allemande, «La Main à plume», pour conserver l’activité du surréalisme en l’absence de membres principaux. Pourquoi les anciens membres de la Main à plume se sont-ils opposés à Breton ? A cette question s’efforce de répondre mon intervention, en se penchant sur les publications collectives des deux groupes surréalistes et les mémoires et les interviews publiés d’anciens membres de la Main à plume. Les publications des deux groupes surréalistes témoignent des raisons pour lesquelles les anciens membres de la Main à plume ont rompu avec Breton: ils n’ont pu partager la conscience temporelle avec Breton. Celui-ci persiste à ne pas permettre à l’activité artistique d’intervenir intentionnellement dans le futur : une telle attitude n’était plus convaincante pour les anciens membres de la Main à plume, qui étaient obligés, pendant la guerre, de se poser une question urgente: «de quelle manière peut-on améliorer la situation actuelle?» Non seulement le surréalisme-révolutionnaire marque la fin de la Main à plume, mais également il constitue pour les jeunes poètes une occasion de réfléchir sur de nouvelles orientations après leur expérience du surréalisme. La remise en cause du surréalisme-révolutionnaire nous incite-t-elle à réfléchir le surréalisme d’après-guerre sous les relations avec des groupes avant-gardistes contemporains.

"La Main à plume: un surréalisme sous contrainte"
Léa Nicolas-Teboul
Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3

La Main à plume est un groupe surréaliste actif en France pendant l’Occupation allemande. La notion de contrainte, a priori antinomique avec la pensée surréaliste, nous permet de saisir la spécificité de cette séquence: comme contrainte extérieure – poids des circonstances – et comme contrainte formelle susceptible de renouveler le sens et les formes de l’invention surréaliste. La contrainte détermine l’inventivité éditoriale de la Main à plume, sa réappropriation en situation de l’héritage surréaliste. Des méthodes de contournement de la censure sont inventées, et les formes d’agitation du premier surréalisme sont investies dans des écrits-frontière littéraires et résistants. La Main à plume est marquée par la guerre, les conditions de vie difficiles, les persécutions contre les étrangers et les juifs. La vie collective se déplace vers des solidarités matérielles – la fabrication de faux-papiers pour certains, l’accueil d’amis menacés. Le clan surréaliste s’en trouve à la fois questionné et revalorisé. Enfin, les jeux d’écriture ne sont pas pensés comme «purs» mais comme des mécanismes faisant opérer une contrainte «dure» qui complique le jeu de l’automatisme. Nouveauté et germination émergent du matériau lui-même et non de l’intériorité du sujet. La notion de contrainte circonscrit donc l’historicité de ce moment surréaliste et éclaire son rapport aux «ancêtres». La Main à plume peut apparaître comme une séquence matricielle d’un rapport de fascination-répulsion vis-à-vis du mouvement «historique» permettant de penser les avant-gardes d’après 1945.

Speakers
SH

Shindô Hisano

Université de Matsuyama
LN

Léa Nicolas-Teboul

Université Sorbonne Nouvelle-Paris 3
ES

Eiko Suita

Nihon University

Chairs
MY

Monique Yaari

Pennsylvania State University


Friday November 2, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Room A. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Great Room Annex (ground floor)

2:00pm

3.B. Chasm & Epistemology
PANEL: Chasm & Epistemology

"Born Stinking out of the Thigh of Nietzsche:' The Connections and Communications of Georges Bataille and Aimé Césaire"
Tim Lewis
University of La Verne

André Breton's Prolegomena identifies Georges Bataille, Roger Caillois, and Aimé Césaire as the three most exceptional Surrealist thinkers. Fascinatingly, while Césaire's explosive Discourse on Colonialism directs special attention to the colonialism of Caillois, there are many 'chattering intellectuals' who go unnamed in Césaire's 'dossier' of the 'enemies' of 'Progress.’ Taking Césaire's critique of the Western Academy seriously requires that those dead names (re)emerge. This paper theorizes that the otherwise nameless thinker 'born stinking out of the thigh of Nietzsche' and the final figure in the Breton's Surrealist trinity is fact Bataille. Following this theory, I take on a three-fold task: 1. Formally establish the relationship between Césaire and Bataille (as well as each's off-shoot movement from Breton's Surrealism) through the creation and examination of an extensive historical and literary archive; 2. Detail the justification of Césaire's critique of Bataille and the wider Nietzschean renaissance that Bataille catalyzed as well as Bataille's un-named presence in Discourse; and 3. Discuss the contemporary implications of the connection between Césaire and Bataille for Surrealist anti-colonial scholars, activists, artists, and movements.The goal of this paper is not render Bataille's theories of excess, love, and nonknowledge as always already ruined by colonial epistemologies, nor is it an attempt to save Bataille's bones from the 'poisoned' plot of Europe. Instead, this paper represents an attempt at a more opaque meditation on the specifically colonial (not simply primitivist) aspects of Bataille's Surrealism and the anti-colonial obligations for our own Surrealist endeavors.

"Breaking Off: Monnerot’s Networks and the Work of Fragmentation"
J
ohn Westbrook
Bucknell University

Jules Monnerot published important studies just after the war: La Poésie moderne et le sacré (1945), a study of surrealism hailed by Breton, Bataille and Blanchot; Les Faits sociaux ne sont pas des choses (1946), an anti-Durkheimian methodological treatise; and La Sociologie du communisme (1949), an analysis of the resacralization of politics in the 20th century. When asked about this extraordinary output, Monnerot replied: “En fait, je n'ai voulu écrire qu'un livre, et tout ce que j'ai écrit, ça a été des morceaux tombés de ce livre…” From the 1930s to the 1980s, Monnerot produced a series of “fragments” that he placed under the sign of the “problème interrompu” posed by Bataille’s College of Sociology: that of the sacred’s ability to forge community in contemporary society. Creating his absent work with these fragmented responses to an unanswerable question Monnerot embarks on trajectory from Martinican surrealist and Marxist in the 1930s to the extreme right in the 1970s. My purpose is not to reconstruct Monnerot’s absent Work from these fragments. Instead, I trace the work of fragmentation driving his intellectual commitments. For Monnerot, breaking off from communities (first from Surrealism and then the College) liberated the discursive and epistemological fragments with which he could provisionally mark the shifting contours of the sacred’s absence and repeat the interrupted question posed by the College. His relative absence from contemporary critical discourse—the interrupted question that is Monnerot—reflects his potential to fracture narratives of the interwar and postwar intellectual fields.

“This Place of Total Ambiguity: Dorothea Tanning’s Chasm"
Anna Watz
Linköping University

In an article in New Literary History (2010), Griselda Pollock suggests that the 1970s, when experimental art practice (and, I would add, literary practices) intersected with psychoanalytic/poststructuralist feminism, ought to be considered a distinctly feminist avant-garde moment – one which “resum[es] the broken thread of earlier avant-garde moments.” The key characteristic of this moment, for Pollock, is its political-aesthetic project of representing or theorising “the feminine” (or in Kristeva’s terminology, le féminin), which can be understood as “the haunting excess of a limiting phallocentrism.” Taking my cue from Pollock, I read Dorothea Tanning’s novel Chasm as part of such a feminist avant-garde, concerned with feminine difference or excess. Chronicling the passions, obsessions, and fetishistic desires of a handful of characters during a weekend visit to the Arizona desert, Chasm turns on the tension between curiosity and the secret. The titular chasm, suggestive of the seductive but deadly setting of the novel as well as the magical, interior childhood world of the protagonist Destina, encapsulates this tension. I will show that the chasm, in its unresolved contradictoriness, is aligned with “the feminine”: the ungraspable otherness within all speaking subjects. Drawing on Catriona McAra’s recent excavation of the overlapping layers of Tanning’s texts (from short story in 1949, via the novel-length Abyss in 1977, to the re-edited Chasm: A Weekend in 2004), I will read the addition of the Preface to the final 2004 version – a genealogy of the 7-year-old Destina, revealing a line of eponymous foremothers dating back to the 17th century – as Tanning’s meta-commentary on the novel’s preoccupation with feminine difference.

Speakers
avatar for Timothy Lewis

Timothy Lewis

University of La Verne
I am in the second year of my Master of Arts program at the University of La Verne in La Verne, CA studying Social Justice in Higher Education Administration. I graduated from Occidental College in Los Angeles, CA (2017) where I was the Lead Student Editor for Critical Theory and... Read More →
avatar for Anna Watz

Anna Watz

Senior Lecturer, Linköping University
JW

John Westbrook

Associate Professor of French, Bucknell University


Friday November 2, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Room B. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Humanities Lab (lower level)

2:00pm

3.C. Moveable and Immovable Space
PANEL. Moveable and Immovable Space

“Walls Like Damp Sheets”: Roberto Matta’s Project for an Apartment"
Michele Greet
George Mason University

Known today as an important surrealist painter, Roberto Matta originally trained as an architect in Chile, and subsequently traveled to Paris where he served as an apprentice to Le Corbusier from 1934 until 1936. Although he soon rejected Le Corbusier’s rigid modernist aesthetic, his architectural training informed his unique approach to surrealism and gave him the ability to render complex spatial systems. In 1938 André Breton invited Matta to submit an essay to the surrealist journal Minotaure. To illustrate the resulting essay, “Mathématique Sensible-Architecture du Temps,” Matta submitted a collage entitled Project for an Apartment. In his essay Matta envisions an apartment as a malleable womb-like space: “We need to cry against the digestions of right angles in the midst of which one allows oneself to be brutalized.” Instead he advocates spaces that would “cybernetically adapt themselves to the occupant.” He calls for “walls like damp sheets” and “furniture which rolls out from unexpected spaces, receding, folding up, filling out like a walk in the water.” Not only would the space adapt to the occupant’s physical contours, it would also morph to accommodate the inhabitant’s mood and conform to each individual’s disposition. This paper will take an in-depth look at Matta’s essay and collage Project for an Apartment as a unique manifestation of surrealist design, and situate this early project in relation to his development as a painter.

"Contextualizing Agustín Cárdenas’ Early Surrealist Sculpture"
Lewis Kachur
Kean University

The Cuban sculptor Agustín Cárdenas received a government travel grant that brought him to Paris in 1955. He soon made connections to Surrealist circles, and had a one-man show at Galerie du Dragon with catalogue preface by André Breton. Cárdenas seemed to be following in the footsteps of the Cuban Wifredo Lam, who had been welcomed by the Surrealists in the early 1940s. Indeed their works were hung in proximity in the New York exhibition Surrealist Intrusion in the Enchanters’ Domain, 1960-61, where all artists had tiny national flags affixed to their frames. Following Aimé Césaire’s concept of negritude, Breton and José Pierre were eager to stress Cárdenas African roots, especially his relation to traditional African sculpture. This essentializing can be temperered by a consideration of the Caribbean aspects of Cárdenas’ early sculpture. He made several totemic works he entitled “Antillean,” applying this adjective to both figurative and vegetative subjects. He received early support from Martinique-born writer Édouard Glissant, an early owner of one of the Antillean series. These late 1950s works, fusions of plant-like forms with the personnage, seem to anticipate Glissant’s 1960s concept of antillanité, which downplayed African roots for a focus on West Indian identity. Furthermore, Glissant’s discussion of verticality provides a Caribbean context for Cárdenas’s totemic carvings.

Speakers
MG

Michele Greet

George Mason University
LK

Lewis Kachur

Kean University

Chairs
avatar for Claire Howard

Claire Howard

Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin


2:00pm

3.D. Bestiaries
PANEL. Bestiaries

"Surrealism and the Bestiary: The Curious Case of Aloys Zötl and Julio Cortázar"
Melanie Nicholson
Bard College

This presentation explores the fortuitous encounter of two artistic sensibilities separated by time, nationality, and geography, in what might be considered a consummate case of le hasard objetif. That encounter, between the nineteenth-century Austrian painter Aloys Zötl and the twentieth-century Argentine writer Julio Cortázar, was inadvertently initiated by André Breton, although Breton himself did not live to see what he had set in motion. In 1972, in response to an invitation by Franco Maria Ricci to write an introduction for a deluxe edition of animal watercolors by Zötl, Cortázar responded in the form of a letter to Ricci in which he meditates on the presence of animals in human psychic and cultural life. Cortázar was a lifelong defender of surrealism, and his epistle-essay “Stroll Among the Cages” bears the marks of a fundamentally surrealist document. Tracing a direct link between bestiaries and surrealism, Cortázar notes that Breton “declared with his mania for taxonomy that the bestiary of Aloys Zötl was the most sumptuous one ever seen—and after that, what can one say?” But Cortázar in fact has a great deal to say, and this little known but engaging essay provides new insights into the ancient practice of viewing human existence through the lens of animal life. After a brief review of the principle points of contact between surrealism and the bestiary tradition, I will examine “Stroll Among the Cages” as it follows the traces of Zötl’s work leading into Cortázar’s own idiosyncratic and surrealist bestiary.

"Towards a Feminist Marvelous: Channeling Carrington Through the Animal Languages of Heidi Sopinka"
Catriona McAra
Leeds Arts University

The Canadian-Ukrainian writer and fashion designer, Heidi Sopinka, has recently published The Dictionary of Animal Languages (2018), a novel based on Leonora Carrington (1917-2011). Unlike existing fictional biographies of the artist/writer, here Carrington is reimagined as Ivory Frame, an animal-painter turned biologist, now aged 92 and researching communication and ecology. Sopinka “collages” ekphrastically from Carrington, “quoting” from her paintings and persona. This paper seeks to reposition Carrington’s legacies within a twenty-first century feminist context. Sopinka contributes to an important moment of expansion for Leonora Carrington studies, alongside creative reinterpretations by novelists Chloe Aridjis (2009), Ali Smith (2012), and China Miéville (2016). Indeed, I suggest that some of the most convincing readings of Carrington are by contemporary artists, curators, and fiction writers, “artist-histories” which do not pin down but rather expand a sense of Carrington’s reach. Carrington’s own notion of a “female human animal” (1970) is crucial to Sopinka as such hybridity queries binary thinking. Positioning Dictionary in a revisionary context, with close reference to the “species” of Donna Haraway (2007) and the “feminist intertextuality” of Susan Suleiman (1990), I offer “a feminist marvelous” in order to theorize this new generation of practices which are not surrealist per se but draw closely upon its techniques. I ask why Carrington, of all the surrealists, is providing such a productive site for feminist investigations into the marvelous. This paper is further underpinned by my unpublished interview material with Sopinka (2018), and Sopinka’s own interview with Carrington (2012).

"Kay Sage Alive in the World"
Kate Conley
William & Mary

Despite the growing isolation Kay Sage (1898-1963) reveals in the four books of poetry she published in French and English between 1957 and 1962 following after the sudden death of her husband Yves Tanguy in January 1955, the poems also establish her as firmly rooted in the present-day natural world, partly through the persistent presence of animals. Cats, cows, squirrels, a horse, a donkey, and birds appear over seventeen poems and humanize Sage as the painter known for bleak architectonic landscapes, mostly devoid of living beings. The seven poems with birds in them, in particular her final poem, “My Bird and Me,” also place her in the surrealist tradition of self-identification with a totem animal as a way of connecting inner consciousness with the outside world that began with André Breton’s self-identification with his astrological sign of Pisces in Soluble Fish (1924) and continued with Max Ernst’s Lop Lop, Bird Superior, Leonora Carrington’s horses, and Dorothea Tanning’s dogs. Even though Sage explores strong feelings of grief, mourning, and a desire for death in her poetry, she does so in the vital, earthy French slang she shared with Tanguy, from the time they met in Paris in 1938 through their move to rural Connecticut in 1941. Tinged with dark humor, the poems construct a vivid portrait of the painter-poet’s inner life as more populated with realistic beings outside of herself than the solitary vision of the world found in her austere, otherworldly paintings would suggest. The animals come in multiple guises: embedded in standard slang terminology, upon which she focuses astute bilingual attention, as ironic vehicles for biting commentary on human nature and the human life cycle, to more personal expressions of her fears about venturing into society, to comforting companions, and, finally, as direct stand-ins for herself. She depicts these animals with the same ironic humor with which she discloses herself. French and English idioms slip and collide, generating sparks of humor and insight. Even at her most morbid, a raucous liveliness shines through, exposing how very much alive in the world Sage remained until her death by suicide in January 1963.

Speakers
avatar for Kate Conley

Kate Conley

William & Mary
I'm working now on surrealist collections, an outgrowth of my book on Surrealist Ghostliness (initially inspired by my book on Robert Desnos), and the poetry of Kay Sage, a continuation of my career-long dedication to women and surrealism.
avatar for Catriona McAra

Catriona McAra

University Curator, Leeds Arts University
avatar for Melanie Nicholson

Melanie Nicholson

Bard College

Chairs
KN

Kristoffer Noheden

Researcher, Stockholm University


2:00pm

3.E. The Transparency & Opacity of Surrealist Periodicals
PANEL. The Transparency & Opacity of Surrealist Periodicals

Across decades and continents, the pages of periodicals have shaped surrealism. Yet, due to the prevalence of magazines, revues, pamphlets, and newspaper clippings as sources, the complexity and diversity of these printed materials merit further scrutiny if we wish to glean as much as possible from this dense archive. As one avenue to consider how seemingly ambivalent publications can convey surrealist missions, the papers in this panel embrace the concurrent transparency and opacity of a selection of surrealist journals. Whether in narrative content that confuses fact and fiction, visual imagery that alternately reveals and conceals, or editorial methods that both parody and uphold hegemonic structures, these publications confuse and subvert readers’ habits of perception. Through the periodicals’ intermedial aesthetics of transparency and opacity, surrealism is at once accessible and always just out of reach.

"Displaced Foci: The Close-Up in La Révolution Surréaliste and Documents"
Erin McClenathan
Mercer University

Two core surrealist factions headquartered in Paris in the late 1920s were taken by the undulation between the transparency and opacity in close-up images. Overlapping applications of magnification in the André-Breton-allegiant La Révolution Surréaliste (1924-29) and Georges Bataille’s Documents (1929-30/1) demonstrate that these two supposedly opposed surrealist camps in fact placed their audiences in similar positions. Evocations of empirical research like the visible mimicry of the scientific journal La Nature’s format in La Révolution Surréaliste and the extensive attempts at archeological and ethnographic cataloguing evident in Documents are indicative of the gravitas that Breton and Bataille wished to convey through their publications. The satirical function of the subversions of didacticism in both journals and implementation of zoological documentarian as also found in Jean Painlevé’s educational films suggest the potential for surrealism to repurpose unrelated materials as a form of social engagement. Yet, the contrast between the apparent straightforwardness of the cleanly printed texts in La Révolution Surréaliste and Documents and photomechanical images that often disorient the eye and mind in their extreme framing or lack of context finally keep the reader at a distance. The surrealist close-up beckons us nearer but ultimately keeps the inner workings of the movement in the dark—in Bataille’s mucky informe or the ultra-exclusive nether regions of Breton’s subconscious.

"Enquête on Suicide or the Risks of Reading"
Jasmina Karabeg
The University of British Columbia

“Is suicide a solution?” Bent on starting their publishing activity with a provocation, surrealists posed this question in the inaugural issue of La Révolution Surréaliste. The answers matched the question. It has often been noted that the enquête was to pour acid on accepted social, intellectual and religious values. I will argue that the intervention does not remain in the realm of reason and emotion but touches the nerves and muscles of the reader’s body, interrupting carefully cultivated performance of reading. This interruption is effectuated by the layout of the page, its graphical elements, and the relation of words and images. In the enquête, images are not decorative elements, but responses, charged with providing answers and articulating statements. In their variety, the answers to the enquête permanently oscillate between habits of reading and habits of looking. Disruption of reading habits inflicted by these oscillations is the deepest work of the enquête. To fully understand the nature of this disruptive surrealist intervention, I consider it in relation to the ideology and practice of instilling cultivated, useful habits of a good worker or efficient soldier created through carefully monitored and repeated performance. As internes or patients in military hospitals, future surrealists acquired the first hand understanding of the social and political implications of these normative performances. La Révolution Surréaliste is not just a critique and questioning of the norm; by interrupting the reader’s habit, the journal does what it says.

"The Opacity & Transparency of Ritualistic Possession: Michel Leiris’s Ethnographic Account of the Ethiopian Zar-Cult in Minotaure"
Andrea Gremels 

Goethe-Universität
The periodical Minotaure, published between 1933 and 1939, illustrates the transgressive eccentricity of the surrealists’ exploration of other realities, driven by irrationality and the unconscious. In this context, Minotaure also exemplifies the extent to which the surrealist movement was inspired by non-European cultures. Its second number is exclusively dedicated to the French ethnographic expedition to sub-Saharan Africa from 1931 to 1933, La Mission Dakar-Djibuti (No. 2, 1933). The writer Michel Leiris, one of the key figures of what James Clifford (1981) has called ethnographic surrealism, takes part in this sub-Saharan mission and studies the rituals of possession practiced by the members of the zar-cult in Gondar, Northern Ethiopia. His ethnographic account “Le tareau de Seyfou Tchenger” (“Seyfou Tchenger’s bull”) in Minotaure testifies to the author’s ambiguity towards his role as ethnographer and interrogates the discipline’s methodology of documentation. My paper analyzes Leiris’s destabilization of the supposedly documentary transparency of the text through the opacity of the photographs that accompany it. Through the intermedial tension between textual transparency and photographic opacity the author eventually cross-examines the ethnographic limitations as well as the poetic potential of visualizing ritualistic possession as a phenomenon characterized by the invisible presence of irrational spirits and animalistic, unconscious forces. Leiris’s account of the Ethiopian zar-cult thus reflects on the sources of surrealist creativity and echoes Minotaure’s credo of “LA TOUTE-PUISSANCE DU DÉSIR” (“The omnipotence of desire”).

Speakers
avatar for Andrea Gremels

Andrea Gremels

Research Associate, Goethe-Universität, Frankfurt / École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris
In my current research project “Cosmovision and World Arts: On Transversal Surrealism” I analyze the transnational relations of the Surrealist Movement between Europe, Africa the Caribbean and Latin America. My aim is to show the multilateral dynamics that constituted the global... Read More →
JK

Jasmina Karabeg

University of British Columbia
avatar for Erin McClenathan

Erin McClenathan

Mercer University

Chairs
avatar for Erin McClenathan

Erin McClenathan

Mercer University


Friday November 2, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Room E. Bertrand Library: East Reading Room (second floor)

3:30pm

Break
Coffee, tea and snacks in Hildreth-Mirza Hall

Friday November 2, 2018 3:30pm - 4:00pm
Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Great Room (ground floor)

4:00pm

4.A. Anthologizing Surrealism: Postmodern American Poetry
PANEL. Anthologizing Surrealism: Postmodern American Poetry

In his essay, “Neo-Surrealism; Or, the Sun at Night,” Andrew Joron asserts that “surrealism does not levitate above History,” but, rather, is inextricably connected to a specific cultural moment. He suggests that “the shape of surrealist subversion shifts according to the contours of the surrounding landscape. Both the darkness of the ‘uncanny’ and the brightness of the ‘marvelous’ are not absolute but relative qualities.” It is these contours and relative qualities that are at the crux of this panel and, specifically, how they are manifested in Modern and Contemporary poetry from the United States. The impact and legacy of Surrealism is, arguably, felt no more powerfully than in the U.S. Surrealist formulations have come to dominate a large part of the American poetic landscape from the Beat poets of the 1950’s and 60’s to the New York School poets of the same era to the Deep Imagists and L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Poets of the 1970’s through today, as well as the varied avant-garde and experimental poetry dominating the current American scene. The members of this panel are editors in the process of compiling an anthology of American Surrealist poetry. The anthology is an attempt to document, investigate, celebrate, and highlight the legacy of surrealism in American poetics from after World War II to today. We will also present minority writers of younger generations, including but not limited to Sherwin Bitsui, Uche Nduka, Lucas de Lima, Sean D. Henry-Smith, and Debora Kuan, in order to challenge entrenched conceptions that surrealism--and the historical avant-garde more generally--is a white, Eurocentric practice. The format for this panel combines aspects of a formal presentation with a more open roundtable discussion. The intent is to highlight our current progress on the anthology with the hope of provoking an open conversation whereby members of the audience can actively participate in the construction of the anthology with ideas, input, suggestions, and criticism. We will discuss the different categories/chapters of Surrealist poets we have created thus far (e.g. Oneiricists, Alchemists, Somnabulists, Eroticists, Fabulists, Conjurers, and more); provide a brief historical context regarding our ideas for inclusion; outline issues surrounding influence and canonicity; reveal prominent writers included so far (e.g. Philip Lamantia, Rikki Ducornet, Will Alexander, John Ashbery, Jayne Cortez, Russell Edson, John Yau, Andrew Joron, John Olson, and many more); and, discuss the challenges we have encountered regarding editorial decision-making and anthology creation.

We approach this project with a kind of urgency (and enthusiasm) as the moment for an anthology of American neo-surrealist poetry seems overdue and the need to catalogue this unique historical ‘snapshot’ of one incarnation of the legacy of surrealism, we suspect, will generate a significant amount of interest amongst readers. The current heightened interest in hybrid genres and experimental forms invariably includes writers whose work is replete with surrealist gestures and impulses. Underlying much of this is a debate regarding the influence of surrealism and the supposed ‘authenticity’ of current surrealism(s) in America that seems, in part, a division between two different lineages: the traditional or classic surrealists like Philip Lamantia and Adam Cornford versus neo-surrealist writers who Ron Silliman has pejoratively referred to as “soft surrealists” (e.g. James Tate and Russell Edson). Although we are interested in this tension, our anthology takes a more complex, nuanced, and multi-faceted approach and includes numerous permutations of surrealism from writers as diverse as Allen Ginsberg and Harryette Mullen, Bob Kaufman, Barbara Guest, Matthew Roher and Rosmarie Waldrop, Stephen Jonas and Charles Simic, Jack Spicer and Garrett Caples. More than simply influenced by Surrealism, these writers embody the spirit of the early French Surrealists in their exploration of the imagination and the unconscious mind via imagery that is bizarre and oneiric. These poets often transform perception and transcend rational thought through disjointed, fragmentary, and disturbing juxtapositions. It is poetry interested in imagistic associations that push against the control of reason and challenge dominant poetic conventions in a myriad of different trajectories and forms reminiscent of the most ardent Surrealism of the early part of the 20th century.

Mark Tursi
Manhattan College

Michael Leong
State University of New York, Albany

Matt Miller
Yeshiva University

Speakers
avatar for Michael Leong

Michael Leong

Assistant Professor of English, University at Albany, State University of New York
Michael Leong works at the intersections of poetry writing, ethnic American literature, and legacies of the historical avant-garde. His recent poetry books include Words on Edge (Black Square Editions, 2018) and Who Unfolded My Origami Brain? (Fence Digital, 2017). He is currently... Read More →
avatar for Matt Miller

Matt Miller

Yeshiva University
avatar for Mark Tursi

Mark Tursi

Adjunct Professor, Marymount Manhattan College & New Jersey City University
Mark Tursi is the author of four books of poetry: Brutal Synecdoche, The Impossible Picnic, Shiftless Days, and, forthcoming in fall 2018, The Uncanny Valley. He is one of the founding editors of Apostrophe Books, an innovative press devoted to publishing poetry that intersects philosophy... Read More →

Chairs
avatar for Mark Tursi

Mark Tursi

Adjunct Professor, Marymount Manhattan College & New Jersey City University
Mark Tursi is the author of four books of poetry: Brutal Synecdoche, The Impossible Picnic, Shiftless Days, and, forthcoming in fall 2018, The Uncanny Valley. He is one of the founding editors of Apostrophe Books, an innovative press devoted to publishing poetry that intersects philosophy... Read More →


Friday November 2, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Room A. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Great Room Annex (ground floor)

4:00pm

4.B. Hermetic Arts in the Americas
PANEL. Hermetic Arts in the Americas

"Earth is a Man and The Blue Lobster: Filmic Experiments in Latin America´s Surrealism"
Maria Clara Bernal
Universidad de los Andes

In his seminal text “Pioneros del video y del cine experimental en América Latina,” Brazilian theorist Arlindo Machado mentions several films that could be related to Surrealism arguing that there was a dialogue between local artists and the French avant-garde rather than an influence. In this paper, I will address the subject of Latin America´s experimental cinema though two instances that, in their own way, reflect not only an awareness but also a creative dialogue with French Surrealism in their narrative, style and aesthetic approach. The first case study is the film script: La tierra es un hombre written by Chilean artist Roberto Matta. Signed and dated on New Year’s Eve 1936 in Stockholm, Matta produced the script at a time in his artistic career when he was leaving behind his work as an architect and starting to experiment with automatism in drawing and painting. The second case study is the Colombian short film, La langosta azul (1954). Written by Gabriel García Márquez and directed by Colombian journalist and novelist Álvaro Cepeda Samudio, this film is a rare example of the confluence of the marvelous in Lo real maravilloso and Surrealism. With these case studies, it is possible to argue that experimental cinema in Latin America has at its inception a Surrealist nature. The mechanisms used by Luis Buñuel in Un Chien Andalou and even Man Ray’s Emak-Bakia are present in these works as well as recurrent in many of the first Latin American experimental films.

"Two Cuban Artists in Parisian Surrealism: The Magical Art of Agustín Cárdenas and Jorge Camacho"
Anne Foucault
Université Paris Nanterre

La Havana for Paris and rapidly joining André Breton's group, sculptor Agustín Cárdenas and painter Jorge Camacho are part of the last artistic evolutions of Surrealism in France. This paper seeks to determine how their work was interpreted by French surrealists regarding the two artists' relationship to their native island and their ethnic origins. Following their interpretation of Wifredo Lam's paintings, the sculptures of Cárdenas (whose ancestors were West-African slaves) were perceived by the surrealists as a place of contact, dialogue and even reconciliation between European avant-garde sculpture and West-African art (as Cárdenas's "totems" integrate the strength of Dogon sculpture). Here, Cuban origins act as a mediator between the two continents, even creating the possibility of the rediscovery by Surrealism of West African artifacts, often forsaken for Oceanic and Native American art. According to surrealist conceptions of art, Cárdenas's interest in African sculpture is not formal but points out the desire of "finding the secret of a magical art. " This "magical charge" of art is also at the heart of the paintings of Jorge Camacho. If his links to his homeland are less evoked by the surrealists than with Cárdenas, he is nevertheless perceived as a shaman facing a luxuriant nature that he transcribes as a vast cryptogram in his very hermetic painting, in which he blends poetic and alchemical references. Underlining the production of a surrealist magical art, this paper examines how Cuba "appears more like a producer and exporter of a 'spiritual matter' propitious to Surrealism rather than a place favoring its organization as a group."

"Alchemical Surrealism in Alejandro Jodorowsky’s La montaña Sagrada (1973)"
Abigail Susik
Willamette University
This essay examines diverse strands of surrealist influence in the cult film The Holy Mountain (1973), by Chilean-French director Alejandro Jodorowsky Prullansky. Through a discussion of the historical context of Jodorowsky’s artistic production in the postwar period, as well as specific surrealist sources for the film, I argue that La montaña Sagrada is closely aligned with international surrealism in plot, set, and cinematography, but that it simultaneously formulates its own unique countercultural framework by building on this substrate of influence. Based largely upon the unfinished novel by French para-surrealist René Daumal, Le Mont Analogue. Roman d'aventures alpines, non euclidiennes et symboliquement authentiques (1952), The Holy Mountain builds on Jodorowsky’s long-held fascination with surrealism since his involvement with theater and poetry in Santiago, Chile during the 1950s, and his collaboration in the para-surrealist group Panique in France and Mexico starting in in 1962. Continuing his longstanding homage to the aesthetics of surrealist Leonora Carrington and surrealist-affiliated Antonin Artaud in The Holy Mountain, Jodorowsky explores a saturated visual world of the occult, alchemy, the tarot and altered states of conscious in barrage of experimental tactics throughout the film. By placing The Holy Mountain in context with Alejandro Jodorowsky’s first two feature-length films, Fando y Lis (1968) and El Topo (1970), as well as his incomplete projects in the years following The Holy Mountain for The Story of O (based on the French erotic novel of 1954 by Anne Desclos) and Dune (based on Frank Herbert’s 1965 science fiction novel), a consistent surrealist influence can be traced in Jodorowsky’s cinema. In addition, the inclusion of artwork by Alan Glass and Manuel Felguérez in The Holy Mountain, Jodorowsky’s production of a tarot deck based on the film, and the soundtrack by Jodorowsky, Don Cherry and Ronald Frangipane, can all be related to surrealist influence. This essay will ponder such a surrealist influence in the wake of Mai ’68, and Jodorowsky’s broader ties to the popular counterculture through the film’s financer, John Lennon, in order to address the legacy of international surrealism during the 1970s.

Speakers
avatar for Maria Clara Bernal

Maria Clara Bernal

Universidad de los Andes
AF

Anne Foucault

Université Paris Nanterre
avatar for Abigail Susik

Abigail Susik

Associate Professor of Art History, Willamette University
Abigail Susik received her doctorate with distinction in twentieth-century Art History and Theory from Columbia University in 2009, and is currently an Associate Professor of Art History at Willamette University in Oregon. She is the author of many articles on dada and Surrealism... Read More →

Chairs
KL

Keith Leslie Johnson

William & Mary


Friday November 2, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Room B. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Humanities Lab (lower level)

4:00pm

4.C. Consumption and the Marketplace
PANEL. Consumption and the Marketplace

"When the Avant-garde Promotes Itself: The Creation of the Surrealist Art Market"
Alice Ensabella
Center for Italian Modern Art

The circulation of Surrealist artworks (and so the movement theoretical and aesthetical ideas) passed not only by writers’ and artists’ activities, or through their physical presence in foreign countries, but also by art market streams. Although, from the 1930s, the international fortune of Surrealist art is renowned both in term of circulation and of influences on local schools and artists, the system that the surrealists themselves put in place since the 1920s to assure this reception lays today little known. This paper aims to present the main results of my recent dissertation on the development of the artistic market around Surrealist movement during its years of formation and its early years of activity (1919-1930). I will focus on three main axes, representing the specific areas of the market in which surrealists operate. Private collections (Breton and Eluard), auctions (Eluard and Duchamp’s collections sales – July 1924, March 1926) and galleries (Jacques Viot’s exhibitions at the Galerie Pierre and the activity of the Galerie Surréaliste). The reconstruction of the dynamics and strategies adopted by the members of the group to foster their artistic research is essential, on one side to justify the lack of a unique and charismatic dealer representing the movement, on the other, to better understand the creation of the promotional model that will characterize the international presentations of the movement in the following decades: the International Exhibitions of Surrealism.

"Dining, Desire, and Surrealist Consumption in Postwar France"
Jennifer Cohen
University of Chicago

This paper takes up a set of ephemeral public events undertaken for the opening nights of International Surrealist Exhibitions organized in the decades following World War II: Meret Oppenheim’s event Spring Feast (1959) and Jean Benoît’s costumed performance The Necrophiliac (1965). These exhibitions proved occasions to negotiate the movement’s contradictory status as a vital influence on a growing range of related postwar avant-gardes and as an aging avant-garde itself, despite its growing number of younger adherents. Events taking up themes of cannibalism offered up a complex identification of the surrealist artist as particular a kind of “consumer,” framing the activity of the self-authored retrospective exhibition itself as one of autophagy. I will situate these events as a return to prewar surrealist motifs of dining and desire, for instance in the terms of Salvador Dalí, on one hand, who argued for edibility as the last phase in a historical process of subject-object identification, and in the interrelated photography and printing practices of Max Ernst and Man Ray, on the other, which posited the inedibility of the still life as a metaphor for engaged art viewership in projects such as Ray’s Delicious Fields (1922), Ernst’s A Week of Kindness (1934), and their collaborative project Mr. Knife Miss Fork (1944). Re-tooling these earlier debates, postwar surrealists promoted a multiply-coded consumer ethic, maintaining the importance of desire as a precursor to social action while self-critically participating in reconstruction era French consumerism.

"Surrealism in the Department Store"
Natalya Lusty
University of Sydney 

In 1939, Salvador Dali designed his infamous “Day” and “Night” windows for the high-end New York department store, Bonwit Teller. Creating a media sensation that propelled the event into the annals of history, more as “happening” or “live experiment” than mere window display, Dali’s commission for Bonwit Teller precipitated an extensive collaboration with the advertising, fashion and entertainment world, including his June 1939 cover for Vogue magazine, titled “Dali’s Dreams,” which pre-empted his “Dream of Venus” pavilion for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. Described by Peter Sloterdijk as “a warlord of inventions,” Dali’s collaborations with the commercial world were nevertheless pre-empted by the work of Frederick Kiesler, the visionary architect, designer and artist. In his extraordinary treatise, Contemporary Art Applied to the Store and Its Display (1930), Kiesler advocated the extensive collaboration between modernist art and department stores, illustrating his books with examples of Surrealist art and Kiesler’s own innovative window designs for Saks Fifth Avenue in 1928. Kiesler’s book, part manifesto, part instructive manual, promoted a deep and lasting collaboration between the formal experimentation of avant-garde art and the commercial concerns of the department store, or what he described as “a sound cooperation between public, artist and industry.” This paper examines Kiesler’s ground-breaking treatise in the context of Surrealism’s broader commercial application in this period.

Speakers
JC

Jennifer Cohen

Lecturer, School of the Art Institute of Chicago
AE

Alice Ensabella

Center for Italian Modern Art
avatar for Natalya Lusty

Natalya Lusty

Professor, University of Melbourne

Chairs
JW

John Westbrook

Associate Professor of French, Bucknell University


4:00pm

4.D. Critical Transmissions
PANEL. Critical Transmissions

“Dreams Are Not Enough: Len Lye and the Limits of Surrealism”
Raymond Spiteri
University of Wellington

Len Lye is one of the few New Zealand born artists to have documented links to the international surrealist movement. He contributed works to the 1936 International Surrealist Exhibition in London and subsequent exhibitions, his work was reproduced in associated publications, yet he never declared himself a surrealist. Indeed, during the second half of the 1930s when surrealism was active in Britain, Lye was developing a form of filmic abstraction with his direct-film practice. The works that come closest to a surrealist mode—the 1929 film Tusalava, photographs, photograms, and drawings circa 1930—precede the emergence of an organized surrealist movement in England; while the works executed during the second half of the 1930s, had already moved beyond specifically surrealist concerns. This paper considers the role of Lye’s participation in the circle around Laura Riding and Robert Graves on his attitude to surrealism. On one hand, this circle indicates proximity to surrealism, evident in his book cover designs for Nancy Cunard’s Hours Press, and contributions to the review transition—an early vector for the international dissemination of surrealism. On the other hand, it also indicates resistance: Riding was sceptical of surrealism’s value, contrasting the “canniest intelligence” of poetry to the “canniest imbecility” of the dream. Lye’s relationship to surrealism is less an example of direct linear transmission from Paris to London than of a retrospective, even reluctant, conversion. His work appears to straddle the fault-line between the modernism of the Graves-Riding circle, and the early reception of surrealism in Britain, and it demonstrates the challenge of translating surrealism from one context to another: that surrealism as a coherent body of ideas and experiences often becomes distorted in translation.

"A Fraught Relationship: Marcel Broodthaers and the Belgian Surrealists"
Margaux Van Uytvanck
Université Libre de Bruxelles

Belgian artist and enfant terrible Marcel Broodthaers is now almost exclusively known for his installations which question the art world, its history and its institutions. Yet his first steps in the Brussels art world took place among the Surrealist group. After a lull in collective activities during the Second World War, the Belgian Surrealists gathered together in 1945 to give a new élan to their activities by joining forces with the Communist Party. This tumultuous period marked the end of a united Surrealist group in Brussels and the beginning of a multiplication of “parasurrealist” movements which flourished in the second half of the twentieth century. It is in this chaotic context that Broodthaers, then a struggling poet, discreetly entered the stage. From 1945 on, he published his poetry in Surrealist periodicals, attended meetings of the surréalisme révolutionnaire group led by Christian Dotremont and signed a some of their manifestos. While his involvement with the Surrealists only lasted a few years, it had an enormous impact on his later artistic career, starting with the crucial influence of René Magritte’s word paintings. This paper examines how Surrealism influenced Broodthaers’ career as a visual artist, how he was perceived by the key Surrealist artists of his time, and, finally, how the he viewed Surrealism – and, especially, Magritte’s legacy – in the wider context of the emergence of pop art and conceptual art.

"Eugene Jolas and transition: A Version of Surrealism"
Douglas Cushing
The University of Texas at Austin

In the July 1932 issue of Contempo, Samuel Putnam asked, “WHO BROUGHT DADA TO AMERICA?” “NO ONE,” he announced, “BROUGHT DADA TO AMERICA! No one, certainly, before Eugene Jolas . . . And what Jolas and the old transition brought, was not Dada, but a version of Surrealism.” Despite such acknowledgements, Eugene Jolas’s little magazine transition (1927-1938) remains an underexplored vehicle of Surrealism’s transatlantic transmission. Histories usually mark Alfred H. Barr’s 1936 exhibition Fantastic Art, Dada, Surrealism and the Surrealists’ wartime arrival in New York as formative landmarks in the movement’s American reception. Little magazines like transition, however, served as Surrealism’s true vanguard. Jolas published the Surrealists initially out of appreciation, recognizing them as coexplorers and creators of a modern pan-Romanticism. Audiences, however, soon confused the magazine for a Surrealist appendage. Forced to differentiate transition from Surrealism, Jolas also became increasingly critical of the movement. In contrast with their movement, he integrated Novalis’s Romantic philosophy and Carl Jung’s theories into his own project. Through criticism and recontextualization with other art and literature, including James Joyce’s serialized Finnegans Wake, Jolas transmitted not pure Surrealism to his readers, but a reframed version of it. Understanding Surrealism’s early public outing in the United States via transition becomes consequential when we trace transition’s readership in the 1920s and early 30s, because this group included a generation of young artists like Jackson Pollock, Philip Guston, Robert Motherwell, and John Cage, as well as future publishers of Surrealism, such as View magazine’s Charles Henri Ford.

Speakers
avatar for Douglas Cushing

Douglas Cushing

PhD candidate, University of Texas at Austin
I am currently writing a dissertation on Eugene and Maria Jolas's little magazine, "transition" (1927-38). My previous research includes work on Duchamp's relationship with the writings of Lautréamont.
avatar for Raymond Spiteri

Raymond Spiteri

University of Wellington
avatar for Margaux Van Uytvanck

Margaux Van Uytvanck

Research Assistant & PhD Candidate, Université Libre de Bruxelles

Chairs
avatar for Jonathan Eburne

Jonathan Eburne

Comparative Litearture, English, French and Francophone Studies, Pennsylvania State University


4:00pm

4.E. Modes of Exhibition
PANEL. Modes of Exhibition

"Monsters & Myths: Surrealism and War in the 1930s and 1940s"
Oliver Tostmann
Wadsworth Atheneum

Oliver Shell
Baltimore Museum of Art

A presentation of the exhibition Monsters & Myths: Surrealism and War in the 1930s ad 1940s. As Europe lurched toward fascism and America fought in the Second World War, no other artists produced images more powerfully disturbing than the Surrealists. Monsters & Myths: Surrealism and War in the 1930s ad 1940s will be the first major exhibition to focus on the interrelationship between Surrealism and war in both Europe and America during this period. Monsters and myths became some of the Surrealists’ most favorite subjects, as they often took recourse in mythological themes to depict the horrors of war and capture dark premonitions. This exhibition will examine key works in a variety of media by Salvador Dalí, Joan Miró, and Max Ernst, juxtaposing them with works by lesser known artists such as André Masson, Wolfgang Paalen, and Wifredo Lam. Monsters & Myths will build on the Wadsworth Atheneum’s storied history as the first American museum to exhibit Surrealist art. Co-organized with The Baltimore Museum of Art (BMA), the exhibition will also travel to the BMA and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee.

"Breton Online: Here and There"
Constance Krebs
Association Atelier André Breton

From his studio in Paris, André Breton organised exhibitions, edited journals and wrote. His books have been everywhere and his letters have reached numerous friends across the globe. He kept in his studio every work he had read, published, written or exhibited. Today, everything has been digitized and put online. But how does one use the digitized resources? The Breton website is full of works indexed in categories, events, series, localisations. Tools are organized as: wikis, comments, bibliography, Zotero library, and portfolios. For this conference, if you choose to introduce me to one of your selected candidates, we could update the works of the website the candidate refers to. Thus, we would be able to create an album in which notices could be organised. For Malcom de Chazal, for example, some notices need to be updated, others that exist have to be translated from French to English. If someone wishes to talk about Chazal's letters to Breton we need to publish them online. A map will soon show the works' origin places, and where they were collected. For the bibliography, a Zotero tool is defined on every page. As long as the project is evolving, the album stays private, and is only visible to his creator. Once the project ready to be announced, the album will become public and appear on the homepage. This website is here to help you create an exhibition, a catalog or a class as it indexes every single Breton's work and object.

"Curating the Catalogue Raisonné"
Jessie Sentivan
Curator, Kay Sage: Serene Surrealist and Editor, 
Kay Sage Catalogue Raisonné
 
The catalogue raisonné is meant to provoke, delight, and intrigue. It is a publication that generally stands alone. Painstaking research and careful organization pave the way, inspiring others to develop new scholarship and exhibitions. Yet in a recent installation at the Williams College Museum of Art, Kay Sage: Serene Surrealist demonstrates what it looks like to exhibit the catalogue raisonné. Based upon eight years of research for the Kay Sage Catalogue Raisonné (2018, Prestel), Serene Surrealist recreates Sage’s inaugural 1950 exhibition with the Catherine Viviano Gallery in New York. Of the fourteen original paintings on display, one was destroyed in a fire and one was sold to a private collector and has since gone missing. Serene Surrealist comprises the twelve extant paintings, marking their first showing together in over 65 years. This case study exposes the challenge and triumph of an object-based presentation.

Speakers
avatar for Constance Krebs

Constance Krebs

online publisher, online curator, webmaster, Association Atelier André Breton
Publisher since 1993, digital publisher since 1997, André Breton website's webmaster since 2009. I would be happy to help you for your studies, exhibitions, publications or researches about both surrealism and André Breton.
JS

Jessie Sentivan

Curator, Kay Sage: Serene Surrealist and Editor, Kay Sage Catalogue Raisonné
OS

Oliver Shell

Baltimore Museum of Art
OT

Oliver Tostmann

Wadsworth Atheneum

Chairs
MG

Matthew Gale

Tate Modern
SD

Stephanie D'Alessandro

Metropolitan Museum of Art


Friday November 2, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Room E. Bertrand Library: East Reading Room (second floor)

5:30pm

Break
Friday November 2, 2018 5:30pm - 6:00pm
Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Great Room (ground floor)

6:00pm

Exhibition and Buffet Dinner at the Samek Museum
Reception includes food and drink (enough for a light dinner) as well as poems by Surrealists past and present read by Jennifer Militello, Peter Streckfus, and G.C. Waldrep.

Speakers
avatar for Jennifer Militello

Jennifer Militello

Jennifer Militello is the author, most recently, of A Camouflage of Specimens and Garments (2016) and Body Thesaurus (2013), both from Tupelo Press. Her poems have appeared in American Poetry Review, The Kenyon Review, The New Republic, The Paris Review, and Best New Poets. She teaches... Read More →
avatar for Peter Streckfus

Peter Streckfus

Associate Professor, George Mason University
Poetry and visual art
GW

G.C. Waldrep

Professor of English, Bucknell University


Friday November 2, 2018 6:00pm - 7:30pm
Elaine Langone Center (third floor)

8:00pm

Poetry Reading II
Practitioners speaking both from and back into the Surrealist tradition present selections from their work.

Speakers
CD

C Dylan Bassett

University of California, Santa Cruz
MA

Mary Ann Caws

Graduate School of the City University of New York
avatar for Merrill Cole

Merrill Cole

Professor, Western Illinois University
My poetic practice has long been influenced by Surrealism, so I'm interested in hearing and meeting the poets at the conference. I also want to learn more about contemporary Surrealist scholarship.
avatar for Joanna Fuhrman

Joanna Fuhrman

Rutgers University
Joanna Fuhrman is the author of 5 books of poetry, most recently The Year of Yellow Butterflies (Hanging Loose Press 2015) and Pageant (Alice James Books 2009.) New poems are forthcoming soonish from Fence, ACM, Conduit, Saint Ann's Review and Hanging Loose, She teaches creative... Read More →
PR

Penelope Rosemont

Independent Artist
RS

Ron Sakolsky

North American Anarchist Studies Network (NAASN)
avatar for Peter Streckfus

Peter Streckfus

Associate Professor, George Mason University
Poetry and visual art
avatar for Bill Zavatsky

Bill Zavatsky

Independent Artist
Just about anything--or (if you prefer): American Surrealism; André Breton; Robert Desnos; translation; jazz; poetry writing; the teaching of poetry; movies; whatever you like!

Chairs
GW

G.C. Waldrep

Professor of English, Bucknell University


Friday November 2, 2018 8:00pm - 9:30pm
Forum (ELC Second Floor)
 
Saturday, November 3
 

8:30am

Conference Registration
Check in and pick up your name badge and other goodies!

Saturday November 3, 2018 8:30am - 12:30pm
Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Great Room (ground floor)

8:45am

Book Exhibit
  • Beasley Books
  • Belladonna Press
  • Bloomsbury Publishing
  • Bucknell University Press
  • City Light Books
  • Penn State University Press
  • Rutgers University Press
  • MIT Press
  • Wakefield Press

Conference participants are invited to display copies of their books along with discount flyers. Contact Kathi Venios for details (klv006@bucknell.edu).

Saturday November 3, 2018 8:45am - 4:30pm
Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Library (first floor)

9:00am

5.A. Editing, or The Politics of Surrealist Publication
PANEL. Editing, or The Politics of Surrealist Publication

"Translating Desnos: Chantfleurs et Chantfables in English, Pictures, Dance, and Song"
Kristen Strom
Grand Valley State University 

Among the most poignant, and yet often overlooked aspects of Robert Desnos’ oeuvre is the body of poems he wrote for children during the Occupation. While working for the Resistance, for which he faced arrest, deportation, and ultimately death, Desnos composed a volume of charming and playful poems about animals and flowers as a remarkable gesture of hope for the future. I have translated these poems into English and illustrated a selection of them with the intent of publishing them as a bilingual children’s book (presently under review). Desnos had also hoped that these poems might be set to music, and it has been my very great pleasure to oblige, composing and recording scores for over fifty of these intrinsically musical poems. My ultimate goal is that they might one day form the basis of a children’s ballet. This would necessitate partnerships not yet formed, but I have independently choreographed one of the songs to date with plans for more in the near future. Both the beauty of his life and the senselessness of his death have compelled me to keep his work alive in whatever manner I am able, particularly in an era in which the specter of fascism has been so disturbingly reawakened. I propose to provide an overview of these works with critical reflections on the process of intermedial translation. For further review, selections of the songs, translations, illustrations, and the dance are featured on my website: www.barefootballet.net (select headings Desnos Songs, Drawings, Choreography, and Translations respectively).

"'And what shall I love if not the enigma?': An Inquiry into the Four Seasons Book Society’s Hebdomeros"
Rachael Guynn Wilson
New York University

In his 1966 review of a new English-language translation of Giorgio de Chirico's influential surrealist novel Hebdomeros, John Ashbery called attention to the translator’s masterful rendering of the novel’s enigmatic atmosphere and diction on the one hand, and to the mysterious circumstances surrounding the publication itself, on the other. “Everything about Hebdomeros is mysterious,” Ashbery wrote; “The present edition is something of a mystery itself: printed in Belgrade, it is published here by a firm with a New York address but no telephone. The excellent translation is anonymous.” While the Four Seasons Book Society translation is the preeminent English-language translation of Hebdomeros, both the translator and publisher are virtually unknown: It is an “orphaned” work—one whose rights holders cannot be named or located. My paper on the FSBS edition of Hebdomeros weaves a picture of a network of readers, writers, publishers, and booksellers that coalesces around a bibliographic mystery. Blending old fashioned research methods such as oral history interviews and archival research with powerful internet database searches, this project attempts to use the surrealist method of “objective chance” to unfold a sociology of the book—diving deep into the uncanny networks that connect people and times and places through printed matter.

"Challenges of an Editing Process: Paul Paon Zaharia’s La Rose parallèle"
Monique Yaari
Penn State University

This paper, accompanied by visuals, will briefly introduce Paul Paon, then focus on the editorial process that brought to light his most ambitious, mature text—a process relevant to any scholar embarking on a similar venture. Paul Păun/Paon (1915-1994) was a surgeon, poet, plastic artist, and founding member of the 1940s surrealist group of Bucharest, who never renounced his surrealist outlook or idiom. Marked by the fascism and anti-Semitism of the 1930s, WWII, and the totalitarianism that followed, he eventually emigrated from Romania in 1961. La Rose parallèle is a generically hybrid text (a prose poem interspersed with verse, an ars poetica embedded in a loose autobiographical space, ethical and historical echoes mixing with esoteric elements). At times evocative of Paon’s black ink drawings, it resists simplistic interpretation. Written between 1953 and 1972, it circulated as a self produced, artisanal object with a limited readership. As the centennial of Paon’s birth approached, I undertook its official publication. Establishing an error-free text from multiple typescripts and several manuscripts presented a series of challenges. Implementing the most recent corrections and errata provided by the author was straightforward, but choosing among various mises-en-page in the existing versions was a more delicate task. Most challenging were questions of semantics, when variances of a single word or letter could radically transform meaning. I will highlight the decision-making process, derived from the archeology of temporally multi-layered manuscripts, a web of elusive cultural allusions, and the relationship between French and the author’s native language.

Speakers
KS

Kirsten Strom

Grand Valley State University
RW

Rachael Wilson

New York University
MY

Monique Yaari

Pennsylvania State University

Chairs
MA

Mary Ann Caws

Graduate School of the City University of New York


Saturday November 3, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am
Room A. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Great Room Annex (ground floor)

9:00am

5.B. Under the Influence: Surrealism After Surrealism
PANEL. Under the Influence: Surrealism After Surrealism

This panel examines contemporary art projects that emerge variously under the influence of Surrealism and thereby take Surrealism in new directions. Frank Stanford’s The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You,” J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World, and Stephanie Berger and Nicholas Adamski’s “The Typewriter Project” all take place “after” Surrealism—that is, by paying homage to the Surrealism of the historical avant-garde, even as they transform it. Each paper features the regeneration of a different Surrealist emphasis. Where Stanford’s fiction complicates the dreamwork of Surrealist flânerie, Ballard’s novels exploit Surrealism’s ecological imaginary, and the gambit of “The Typewriter Project” is to move the Exquisite Corpse from private to public sphere. Taken together, our papers thus underscore the extent to which Surrealism has remained an essential part of the contemporary art scene paradoxically through its propensity to submit to redeployments that inevitably invite redefinition.
 
“‘Mostly I Dream’: Southern Surrealism in Frank Stanford’s The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You
Bill Freind
Rowan University

Frank Stanford (1948-1978) produced an incredible body of work in his brief life, but he is best known for The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You, a 572-page, vaguely narrative poem originally published in 1977. Set in the settlements and levee camps along the Mississippi, The Battlefield fuses Southern Gothic techniques with elements of surrealism: as Benjamin Kimpel suggested, it’s as if Huckleberry Finn had been written by André Breton. Stanford adopts the Surrealist celebrations of dreams, as much of the poem comprises dreams and visions. Yet when Lorenzo Thomas called Stanford “a dadgum redneck Surrealist” and “a swamprat Rimbaud,” he’s not quite right: although Stanford’s debts to Rimbaud and Surrealism are clear, neither he nor his alter ego Francis was a redneck or a swamprat in the conventional sense of those words, since both came from educated, upper-middle class families. Moreover, Francis’ whiteness is central to the text: his racial, class, and economic privilege allows him to move like a flâneur through the African-American communities of the Delta, and, like Paris in Nadja and Amour fou, the Delta becomes charged with a psychic energy that complicate the politics of the flâneur, even as it reveals the marvelous in the mundane.
 
“Surrealist Ecologies: Ernst, Ballard, Vandermeer”
Keith Leslie Johnson
William & Mary

Max Ernst’s so-called “jungle paintings” of the late 1930s might be as close as first-wave Surrealism ever got to making an ecological manifesto. Though Surrealism was primarily interested in the inner world of the psyche, its representational logic consistently projected that world onto Nature. Ernst’s jungle paintings are therefore not landscapes so much as dreamscapes. Still, insofar as Surrealism strove to narrow the gap between dreams and waking life, to present them under the same regime of signs, the features of Ernst’s dreamscapes form an ecological picture. Perhaps most salient of these features are flatness, hybridity, and porosity—by which I mean Nature as non-hierarchical, biologically (con)fused, and without clear borders between internal and external. This, at any rate, seems to be how J.G. Ballard approached these images some thirty years on. His first four novels in particular—The Wind from Nowhere (1961), The Drowned World (1962), The Burning World (1964), and The Crystal World (1966)—each present us with a global disaster scenario, a rebellion or derangement of the classical Elements (air, water, fire, and earth, respectively). Focusing on The Drowned World, I explore how Ballard understood his debt to Surrealism and, more particularly, how he translated Ernst’s jungle paintings into an explicit, if uncanny, ecology. By way of conclusion, I consider Jeff Vandermeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy as the endpoint of a theoretical trajectory initiated by Ernst, one where flatness, hybridity, and porosity are presented as literal features of Nature, but Nature indistinguishable from dreams.

“Reviving the Corpse: ‘The Typewriter Project’ and Participatory Art”
Robin Blyn
University of West Florida

The installation itself is simple: a wooden booth with a typewriter, a long paper scroll, and an invitation to anyone to write anything with the equipment at hand. As in Surrealism’s early Exquisite Corpse compositions, typists may respond only to the visible fragment of the poem: the contribution of the typist who came directly before. This typewriter, however, has been enhanced with a USB port that allows the emerging poem to appear in real time on the project’s website. Here, anyone can view and respond to the entire poem. This is “The Typewriter Project: The Subconscious of the City,” a contemporary art installation designed by Stephanie Berger and Nicholas Adamski. The twin debts of “The Typewriter Project” are Surrealism and 1960s experiments in participatory art. Merging these traditions, the project makes visible the emphasis on collective experience marginalized in a critical approach to Surrealism that privileges the artwork as material object. Such an approach inevitably minimizes the Exquisite Corpse, and yet that practice of collective composition is one of Surrealism’s most enduring legacies. As a means of recovering Surrealist sociality and assessing its political implications in the twenty-first century, I turn both to my experience as director of “The Typewriter Project” during its installation in Florida in 2018 and to Grant Kester’s and Claire Bishop’s exemplary debate about the efficacy of participatory art today. Under the influence of Surrealism, I contend, “The Typewriter Project” intervenes in the evaluation of participatory art practices that privilege ethical considerations over aesthetic experience.

Speakers
avatar for Robin Blyn

Robin Blyn

University of West Florida
BF

Bill Freind

Associate Professor, Rowan University
KL

Keith Leslie Johnson

William & Mary

Chairs
avatar for Robin Blyn

Robin Blyn

University of West Florida


Saturday November 3, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am
Room B. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Humanities Lab (lower level)

9:00am

5.C. Wifredo Lam
PANEL. Wifredo Lam

“Rhythm as Aesthetics, Art as Event: On Wifredo Lam’s Surrealism”
Wyatt Sarafin
New York University

Two years after his return to Cuba, the surrealist painter Wifredo Lam had completed his most celebrated work, The Jungle, in 1943. Causing a scandal upon its release, The Jungle is an original but shocking synthesis of European and Caribbean style, fusing an African “primitivism” with Western cubism. Lam had aspired for the work to capture the rhythm of the “black spirit”—to create that one “true picture” with the “power to set the imagination to work.” This paper will explore the ways in which Lam utilizes rhythm as a metaphor for the transnational self, allowing for the singular representation of the colonial networks that so elusively structure postcolonial life. Additionally, I will examine how migration and ethnography have come to produce the documentary tendencies of negrismo and later Afro-Cuban art. Historically speaking, negrismo is associated with the transnational project of Pan-Africanism—a movement which constitutes the formation of a black identity and an emerging consciousness. In Lam’s engagements with modernity the Afro-Cubano subject becomes a cosmopolitan figure, and yet how exactly the rural peasantry get to that phenomenology of the black experience becomes entangled in his search for a political and existential direction. But to what extent is Lam projecting high art’s aesthetic tradition onto a Caribbean imaginary? As I will demonstrate, the uncanny split between exilic and homely temporal spaces finds meaningful psychic representation in The Jungle. As such, Lam’s particular iteration of Caribbean surrealism establishes the conditions of possibility for a subjective, even political response.

“The Multiple Surrealisms of Wifredo Lam”
Mey-Yen Moriuchi
La Salle University

The artist Wifredo Lam (1902-1982) is acclaimed for his semi-abstract, polymorphic paintings that draw on African motifs and the Santeria religion, in addition to avant-garde movements such as Cubism and Surrealism. Born and raised in Cuba, Lam’s early travels to Europe exposed him to modernist styles, and important friendships with Pablo Picasso and André Breton secured his place among the Parisian avant-garde. The Parisian art world’s fixation with the primitive prompted Lam to explore the possibilities of his identity as an Afro-Cuban. His hybrid animal-human figures and fragmented, flattened compositions are linked to his Afro-Cuban culture, as well as to his experimentation with automatism and surrealist games such as cadavre exquis. Scholarship has focused on Lam’s art as a synthesis of Cubism, Surrealism, and Afro-Cuban traditions. This paper, however, seeks to situate Lam’s oeuvre in a post-colonial, multicultural Cuban context by addressing the impact of another aspect of Lam’s background that has not been adequately addressed by scholars: his Chinese heritage. Lam’s father, Yam Lam, was an immigrant from Canton, China, while his Cuban mother, Ana Serafina Castilla, was a descendant of ancestors from Congo and Spain. The emphasis on Lam’s black African roots and his encounter with European modernism has neglected the influence of Lam’s Chinese culture on his art. Is there a convergence of Asian and Afro-Cuban traditions that has been overlooked? This paper will consider the presence and significance of the multiple Surrealisms- European, Caribbean, Asian- present in the oeuvre of the Chinese-African-Cuban artist Wifredo Lam.

"Wifredo Lam’s Surrealist Reinterpretation of the Geographic"
Samantha A Noel
Wayne State University

This paper will focus on the political dimensions of the landscapes which are prevalent in Wifredo Lam’s paintings in the years after his return to Cuba. Lam’s transformed the Cuban landscape and the way black Cubans are represented. Also, his art allowed for a re-imagining of the latter’s relationship with the environment that they occupied. This paper will reveal how Lam’s reinvention of the landscape was ultimately a prelude to the self-definition all black Atlantic peoples aspired to have. The Surrealism and Negritude movements contributed tremendously to the evolution of his aesthetic trajectory. The Surrealist-inspired writings of Aimé  Césaire and his wife, Suzanne Césaire were heavily informed by the geography of their native Martinique and Suzanne even propagated that Antillean identity could be empowered if situated in the soil, the nucleus of the landscape. This paper will thus examine the ways in which Lam’s dense topographies reference not only Cuba, but are also indelibly linked to the wider Caribbean as well as the tropical terrains of ancestral Africa. Through his disruption and transformation of Western modernism, Lam’s art truly reflected his propagation for an art of decolonization, and thereby challenged wide-held notions of originality. Indeed, the visual language of Surrealism contributed to Lam’s ground-breaking aesthetic that was brazenly avant-garde. Finally, in this paper, I will explicate how Lam’s art aids in the generation of a new representation of Cubans and black Atlantic peoples alike as well as their alternative geographic formulations of the land they inhabit. This effort at redefinition affirms the persistence of black modernity.

Speakers
MM

Mey-Yen Moriuchi

La Salle University
SN

Samantha Noel

Wayne State University
WS

Wyatt Sarafin

New York University

Chairs
avatar for Raymond Spiteri

Raymond Spiteri

University of Wellington


Saturday November 3, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am
Room C. Vaughan Literature: Willard Smith Library (ground floor)

9:00am

5.D. Eruption and Disruption
PANEL. Eruption and Disruption

"Non-speech and the Convulsive Body in the Plays of Daniil Kharms"
C. Dylan Bassett
University of California, Santa Cruz 

Daniil Kharms’s plays are obsessed with eruptive bodily outbursts—hiccups, burps, stutters, coughs, snorts, snores, and vomiting. These outbursts sound like language, yet they cannot be interpreted as such—and so they disclose the limit of language and gesture toward its outside. Suspending the human voice, they approximate that which is beyond communication—an independent sound material produced by an unseen internal source, always in flux, always becoming. We might say, then, that Kharms stages not only surrealist and absurdist narratives (or antinarratives), but also individual “non-speech” acts. For Kharms, non-speech—which includes both incongruous semantic structures such as non-sense or incompatible logic, and literal soundmaking—lies beyond the realm of linguistic representation and signification. Non-speech fails to produce, perform, understand, preserve, or communicate anything outside of itself, and instead enacts and describes its own internal reality. It therefore denotes the ever-present “outside” of language, and accesses what Gilles Deleuze calls “the region beyond memory.” Indeed, many of Kharms’s plays are made up entirely of semi-verbal convulsions in which the act of (almost-)speaking appears as an involuntary physical occurrence, a deconstructive practice, or a wholly corporeal experience independent of human will or reason. These convulsions—whether violent or merely grotesque—rid theatrical dialogue of its metaphorical properties and grant it an autonomous ontological stature. By these means, Kharms showcases a state of constant interruption—an ongoing ontological metamorphosis that ironically produces a quasi-metaphysical experience. In this presentation, I explore the function of bodily outbursts in three plays—Elizaveta Bam, A Failed Performance, and The Story of Sdygr Appr—to show how non-speech 1) collapses the distinctions between theatre and ordinary somatic experience, and 2) reveals a region of radical unknowing and alterity within the self. I argue, then, that Kharms’s plays do not encapsulate human experience, but—like a sudden hiccup—disrupt it. As an always-self-interrupting structure, his theatre is thus able to untether singular experience from constituted, universalizing meanings.

“The Unconscious of the City: Surrealism’s Spectral Nature”
Effie Rentzou
Princeton University

One of the most memorable descriptions of nocturnal Paris appears in an account of the taxi ride that took Louis Aragon, André Breton, and Marcel Noll to the park of Buttes-Chaumont in Le Paysan de Paris (1926). The book unfolds under the agrarian trope of the title, all the while subverting prevalent associations with pastoral or nature related themes. While the first part of the book dedicated to the “passage de l’Opéra” usually attracts the most critical interest, the second part, “Le sentiment de la nature aux Buttes-Chaumont” is crucial for understanding the sense of intertwined urban existence and selfhood that is emanated by the text, precisely through the treatment of “nature.” The park, characterized by Aragon as the meeting of Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s dilemmas and economic reality of Parisian life, is described as the “unconscious of the city” and becomes the locus of a denaturalized, artificial nature presented in the form of fragments and textual traces of sign-posts and inscriptions. This is a process that creates out of nature a “modern myth,” a feeling rather than an actual objective existence – similar to gestures within modernist aesthetic from Baudelaire to Apollinaire, that naturalize the city and urbanize nature. While it is a commonplace to talk about the centrality of the city within surrealism and modernism in general, this paper will proceed from the other side of the equation, unearthing those traces of an altered nature that undermine the discourse of the soil as foundation or anchor of belonging and of the nation, that were so widespread during the 1920s and 1930s. The paper will discuss surrealist treatments of nature from Breton‘s and Eluard’s L’Immaculée conception to Max Ernst’s Histoire naturelle, as philosophical and epistemological perspectives, but also as social and political positions that disrupt nationalist tropes and create the imaginary of a cosmopolitan existence in which nature becomes fantasmatic and a vector of detachment instead of attachment to a soil and a tradition.

"Crisis and Surrealism. Poetics of Surreality in Andreas Embirikos’ Υψικάμινος (1935)"
Ioanna Kostopoulou
Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
Recent comments on the current economic crisis have linked criticism of monetary policy with the terms of “surreal” and “surrealism”. The attempt to understand and analyze a crisis often reflects the failure of crisis management and the limitations of language. Managing the unmanageable and trying to grasp the physiognomy of (absurd) events has been historically a driving force for the development of poetic concepts and narratives. Unlike the approach of the practitioners of (economic) crisis management, the will to cope with the reality after World War I, results – in case of André Breton – in the desire for “an absolute reality, a surreality.” Methods of unleashing the unconscious become for the surrealist something more than a therapeutic procedure: As writing techniques, they contribute to the “par excellence revolutionary” potential of surrealism. Andreas Embirikos’ prose poems in Υψικάμινος (Blast Furnace), along with his speech On Surrealism (1935), epitomize the blast of a “surrealistic bomb” (Elytis), introducing the Athenian public to “new, progressive ideas” such as psychoanalysis and French surrealism in times of literary conservatism and political devastation. In this paper, I will argue that the particular relation between political circumstances, the political as such, and surrealism can be understood as the formation of a certain economic/political unconscious and poetological discourse. In these terms, Υψικάμινος can be read as a surrealist experimentation with dreams and poetics of desire (Yatromanolakis) and at the same time as a manifestation of the concern to unite poetic with political goals.

Speakers
CD

C Dylan Bassett

University of California, Santa Cruz
IK

Ioanna Kostopoulou

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin
avatar for Effie Rentzou

Effie Rentzou

Princeton University

Chairs
avatar for Claire Howard

Claire Howard

Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin


Saturday November 3, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am
Room D. Bertrand Library: Traditional Reading Room (second floor)

9:00am

5.E. African-American Presence in Surrealism: Ted Joans & Jayne Cortez
PANEL. African-American Presence in Surrealism: Ted Joans & Jayne Cortez 

"Pan-African Surrealism, Its Influences and Expressions in the Works
of African-American Surrealists Jayne Cortez and Ted Joans."

Penelope Rosemont
Independent Artist
In 1941, André Breton encountered the journal Tropics while fleeing fascism. In the middle of the Carribean Sea, there was a brief stop on the island of Martinique (still under Vichy) and he left the ship and went into town to try to buy a ribbon for his daughter Aube. In an Objective Chance encounter, the shop displayed a copy of the new journal. Breton met Suzanne and Aimé Césaire and was stunned that such a thing could happen in such a time and place. While the war was tearing Europe to pieces this journal was an expression of surrealism unsurpassed. He considered Césaire’s poem “Return to my Native Land,” a truly great poem and Césaire the greatest poet in the French language. The influence of these Caribbean surrealists and their works was felt by the Chicago Surrealist group. My first encounter Ted Joans was on a street in Paris. Paris is a busy place but I said “You must be Ted Joans!” and he replied “Ah, you are one of the Americans going meetings at the cafe.” We stayed in touch and he visited us in Chicago, and wrote for Arsenal: Surrealist Subversion, the journal that we edited and published. Surrealism and poetry were what Ted lived for. It was through Ted that we met our friend and fellow-surrealist Jayne Cortez who lived in New York with sculptor Mel Reynolds. Jayne was totally unique as a surrealist poet with a jazz rhythm and an African-American apocalyptic sensibility. Her greatness is unsurpassed and her work is worthy of world recognition. She published many books of poetry and did sensational readings. Like many surrealists, and especially women surrealists, her work was too exceptional, too amazing to be acceptable.

"The Teducation of Our Thang"
Aldon L. Nielsen
Pennsylvania State University

In his zeal to present poet Will Alexander as sui generis, Eliot Weinberger, introducing a selection of the poet's work in the journal Sulfur, claimed not only that Alexander “lives entirely outside of the pobiz world of prizes, grants, readings, teaching positions,” but that he stands as the only American progeny of Aimé Césaire. The former claim may seem simply silly in retrospect, given Alexander's publications with a major New York press and his receipt of one of the larger poetry prizes, but the latter claim has the effect of wiping out at one blow the entire history of black engagements with surrealism from the time of Langston Hughes and Mercer Cook's early contacts with the emerging Presence Africaine group, through poets such as LeRoi Jones, Jayne Cortez, Bob Kaufman and Ted Joans, to contemporaries of Alexander's such as Julie Patton. Alexander himself routinely cites these poets along with early European surrealists and African writers as his major influences. The proposed paper will trace an internationalist, African-inflected surrealism in the works of Ted Joans. Centering on the books Our Thang, The Hipsters and Flying Piranha, the paper will read the interactions of Joans's poetry with his own art works and those of Joyce Mansour and Laura Corsiglia, and will take up Joans's many performances with jazz artists.

"Afrosurrealism as a Counterculture of Modernity"
Jonathan Eburne
Pennsylvania State University

The term “Afrosurrealist” is a neologism that has come to designate something other than a name for the participants in the surrealist movement who were Black, of African descent—though it hardly excludes them. Sometimes a genealogy, sometimes a tradition, sometimes an archive, Afrosurrealism is an anthologizing denomination that designates a surrealism that is Black, or rather, a surrealism for which race and racial politics form its constitutive priority. Unlike the surrealism of 1920s Paris or 1950s Mexico City or 1960s Prague or even 1970s Chicago, it does not designate a formally self-constituting group or movement, but instead a peripatetic set of intellectual practices for which Afrosurrealism provides the name. The operative specificity of Afrosurrealism lies in naming a priority that comprehends rather than follows European surrealism. It appeals, I argue, to the forms and fissures—one might even say “traditions”—of Black experimental art and thought throughout modernity, between and among poets and artists affiliated with (or ascribed to) the Black Arts Movement, the Harlem Renaissance, Négritude, Pan-Africanism, and Afrofuturism. “Afrosurrealism” names such continuities and discontinuities from a retro-analytic position in a way that both discloses the impression of colonial subjectivity within so-called “orthodox” surrealism and naming a proliferating series of genealogies compiled in its name. This presentation frames the work of Jayne Cortez and Ted Joans within the anthologizing and genealogical imperatives that feature their work and to which it likewise contributes.

Speakers
avatar for Jonathan Eburne

Jonathan Eburne

Comparative Litearture, English, French and Francophone Studies, Pennsylvania State University
AN

Aldon Nielsen

Pennsylvania State University
PR

Penelope Rosemont

Independent Artist

Chairs
avatar for Abigail Susik

Abigail Susik

Associate Professor of Art History, Willamette University
Abigail Susik received her doctorate with distinction in twentieth-century Art History and Theory from Columbia University in 2009, and is currently an Associate Professor of Art History at Willamette University in Oregon. She is the author of many articles on dada and Surrealism... Read More →


Saturday November 3, 2018 9:00am - 10:30am
Room E. Bertrand Library: East Reading Room (second floor)

10:00am

10:30am

Break
Coffee, tea and snacks in Hildreth-Mirza Hall

Saturday November 3, 2018 10:30am - 11:00am
Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Great Room (ground floor)

11:00am

6.A. Photography and Self-Fashioning
PANEL. Photography and Self-Fashioning

"Percy Rainford: Surrealism’s Invisible Photographer"
Michael Taylor
Virginia Museum of Fine Arts

This paper focuses on the life and work of the Jamaican-born, American photographer Percy Rainford (1901-1976). Between 1942 and 1956, Rainford collaborated on a number of Surrealist art projects and publications, including the special Marcel Duchamp issue of View magazine that appeared in March 1945 and the first issue of Le Surréalisme, méme in Winter 1956, which featured Rainford’s image of Duchamp’s Female Fig Leaf on the cover. Duchamp met Rainford in January 1945 through their mutual friend Frederick Kiesler, who also frequently collaborated with Rainford, beginning with the photography for Peggy Guggenheim’s Art of This Century gallery in 1942. Rainford began his career in New York in the early 1930s as a photographer of works of art for catalogues and other publications for museums and commercial art galleries. His clients included the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Whitney Museum, as well as artists, who often needed high quality reproductions of their paintings and sculpture when applying for fellowships. After meeting Kiesler and Duchamp, Rainford’s work began to transcend its documentary impulse and the groundbreaking photographs and collages that he made in the 1940s and 1950s reflect his newfound interest in Surrealism and modernist experimentation. Like Ralph Ellison’s nameless protagonist in the Invisible Man, Rainford remains Surrealism’s invisible photographer. His work is virtually unknown today and often uncredited or misattributed to other, better-known artists. This paper, which is drawn from extensive interviews with the artist’s family and archival research, seeks to by remedy this situation by exploring his remarkable and heretofore overlooked contributions to Surrealism in the post-World War II era.

"La photographie dans le boudoir: femininity, fashion, and the femme fatale in Dora Maar’s portraits of Leonor Fini"
Naomi Stewart
University of Edinburgh

In the mid-1930s, Dora Maar produced a series of photographic portraits of fellow surrealist, Leonor Fini. The series numbers over twenty images, the majority of which stage Fini either in front of, within, or emerging from a heavily curtained alcove that houses a velvet-covered daybed. This, coupled with the provocative states of dishabille in which Fini is pictured, recalls the environment of the boudoir. From its early history as a place of privacy and intellectual engagement for women, to the sexual liberation and intrigue that characterise it in the Marquis de Sade’s texts, the boudoir can be seen as a kind of hybrid space in which excess is simultaneously associated with education. This makes it a peculiar and perhaps conversely productive setting for the representation of women. My paper will test this thesis by first exploring the possibility of casting Fini as a variation on the Sadeian woman in Maar’s portrait series, before analysing the complex operations of ‘fashioning’ at work therein (with specific reference to masquerade and the construction of femininity). Drawing upon the work of theorists such as Laura Mulvey and Mary Ann Doane, it will further argue that the styling of the female body in these images is perhaps best understood as intentionally overplayed and multiplicitous, aligning Maar’s representation of Fini with the conceptual figure of the femme fatale - in an expansive, rather than reductive, way.

“The Man Ray School of Photography: Surrealism and Fashion Photography”
Lynda Xepoleas
Cornell University

In the 1930s, several key fashion photographers were practicing Surrealists: Man Ray, Georges Hoyningen-Huené, Horst P. Horst, Cecil Beaton, and Erwin Blumenfeld. Each photographer explored surrealist-influenced fashion photography in the pages of Vogue magazine. Using surrealist experimental photographic techniques, they transgressed the accepted boundaries of the photographic genre and created shocking images that call Vogue’s pursuit of elegance and refinement into question. Fashion photographs are supposed to offer women a look they can recreate; they are to capture the line of a new look or essence of a collection. Instead, these photographers’ experimentations with lighting, unusual angles, and darkroom processes impose new types of female attractiveness that parallel the Surrealists’ challenge to collective perceptions of femininity and elegance held by Vogue and the quotidian world. Their destabilization of feminine taste removes the images from their commercial associations and disrupts the physical and cultural framework of the magazine format itself. Surrealist fashion photography existed within a separate field of artistic innovation from commercial advertising in the thirties. While scholars argue that fashion photography commercialized Surrealism during the thirties, such photographic output has yet to be assessed in relation to surrealist thought and practice. This paper reconsiders the association of fashion photography as a form of advertising. Ray, Hoyningen-Huené, Horst, Beaton, and Blumenfeld did not photograph fashion in the surrealist style to promote desire for the commercial product. Instead, they created new pictures that penetrated, radicalized, and destroyed conventions of mass culture from inside the illustrated fashion magazine itself.

Speakers
avatar for Naomi Stewart

Naomi Stewart

PhD candidate (History of Art), University of Edinburgh
avatar for Michael Taylor

Michael Taylor

Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art and Education, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts
I joined VMFA in 2015 as the Chief Curator and Deputy Director for Art & Education. A native of London, England, I served as Director of the Hood Museum of Art at Dartmouth College until March 2015. Prior to my tenure at Hood, I spent my career at the Philadelphia Museum of Art from... Read More →
avatar for Lynda Xepoleas

Lynda Xepoleas

PhD Student, Historic Costume and Textiles, Cornell University

Chairs
DJ

Danielle Johnson

Vero Beach Museum of Art


Saturday November 3, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm
Room A. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Great Room Annex (ground floor)

11:00am

6.B. Beyond the Human
PANEL. Beyond the Human

“L’homme n’est peut-être pas le centre de l’univers: Surrealism and Abhumanism"
Iveta Slavkova
American University of Paris

L’Ouvre-boîte. Colloque abhumaniste was published in 1952 by Jacques Audiberti and Camille Bryen. The first already had notoriety as a playwright and critic; the second, an abstract painter and poet, was one of the emblematic characters of the bohemian Saint-Germain-des-Prés. Their biting humor and irony cast into question the most cherished values, including humanism—hence “ab-humanism”—and sought a realistic approach to the insufficiencies of men, revealed so painfully by two World Wars within 20 years, in the heart of the civilization. My paper intends to study the strong intellectual convergence between abhumanism and surrealism. Audiberti knew the Surrealists and shared some of their ideas; Bryen was a former Dada Paris member and had regular contacts with the diverse surrealist groups; the same is true of the German artist Wols, whom the authors of L’Ouvre-boîte called the “ab-homme par excellence”. Both Bryen and Wols were in Marseilles in the same time as the Surrealists, looking for possibilities for exile. I will argue that the doubt in humanism fostered by ab-humanism prolongs the surrealist exploration of the splitting of the modern self which shattered the proudly integral humanist subject, and above all, reiterated the fact that “man is perhaps not the center of the universe” (as Breton wrote in the Prolégomènes à un troisième manifeste ou non, 1942). The visual works by Wols and Bryen, but also the completely unknown drawings of Audiberti, as well as excerpts from Ouvre-boîte and other texts, will lead us into the disillusioned, yet so vitalistic exploration of what Breton called, also in 1952, the “inepcy of Western civilization.” To my mind, this particular aspect of Surrealism, shared by ab-humanism, offers new approaches to the history of the avant-garde (globally and in post-war Paris) and has great relevance in the context of post-humanist theories.

“Photographs of Thought: Surrealism, Animal Magnetism, and the Prehuman Unconscious”
Kristoffer Noheden
Stockholm University

In his 1921 essay “Max Ernst,” André Breton defines the practice of automatic writing as “a veritable photography of thought.” Seguing into a discussion of the changes brought to painting and life by the invention of photography and film, this early definition of automatism is predicated on a convergence of the occult, optical media, and mind. The notion of photographs of thought is an allusion to experiments enacted around the turn of the century, which sought to capture thoughts on photographic plates. Louis Darget’s “thoughtography” was frequently discussed and reproduced in journals such as Les Annales sciences psychiques, which Breton read. The idea that thought can be photographed was, in turn, indebted to Franz Anton Mesmer’s experiments with animal magnetism and his purported discovery of a “vital fluid,” assumed to permeate human beings as well as animals, vegetables, and minerals; while invisible to the unaided eye, Darget believed that this fluid could be captured by optical media. In this paper, I argue that Breton’s allusions to Mesmer, in “Max Ernst” and elsewhere, challenge the Freudian notion of the unconscious as an exclusive feature of human interiority. As invoked by Breton, Mesmer’s vital fluid suggests that the unconscious is a general feature of the world, distributed among living beings and matter alike. The paper, then, will argue that for surrealism, the unconscious is ultimately anterior to humanity. As a prehuman phenomenon, the unconscious extends Breton’s belief in its egalitarian capacity beyond the human, and points to a foundational anti-anthropocentrism in surrealism.

Claire Howard
The University of Texas at Austin

The Enchanters’ Domain: Magic Art in New York, 1960
As thematic inspiration for the Surrealists’ first U.S. exhibition since their wartime exile, 1960’s Surrealist Intrusion in the Enchanters’ Domain in New York, José Pierre suggested Paul Gauguin’s painting, Where Do We Come From? What Are We? Where Are We Going? This paper uses Pierre’s proposal to better understand Surrealist Intrusion’s investigation of the movement’s intertwined past and present aesthetic and philosophical concerns. Focusing on Pierre’s thematization of Gauguin’s Tahitian fantasy and Surrealist Intrusion’s presentation of Pacific Island and Northwest Coast art alongside that of historic and contemporary Surrealists will reveal the centrality of André Breton and Benjamin Péret’s recent pancultural surveys of “magic art” and myth to the conception of the exhibition. Breton and Péret’s texts not only informed the positioning of works from Melanesia, Polynesia, and British Columbia in Surrealist Intrusion but were key to the anti-formalist artistic lineages the exhibition proposed. The exhibition catalogue’s essays by Pierre and Edouard Jaguer emphasize the legacy of Surrealist automatism in gestural abstraction obscured by formalist models that had dominated art criticism and exhibitions in the decade since the Surrealists’ wartime exile. Surrealist Intrusion therefore specifically addressed its New York audience as it asserted an alternative art historical model: in the Enchanters’ Domain, Breton and Péret’s notions of magic art and myth linked Surrealism, gestural abstraction, and ritual objects in the attempt to render visible interior states.

Speakers
avatar for Claire Howard

Claire Howard

Blanton Museum of Art, The University of Texas at Austin
KN

Kristoffer Noheden

Researcher, Stockholm University
IS

Iveta Slavkova

American University of Paris

Chairs
avatar for Kate Conley

Kate Conley

William & Mary
I'm working now on surrealist collections, an outgrowth of my book on Surrealist Ghostliness (initially inspired by my book on Robert Desnos), and the poetry of Kay Sage, a continuation of my career-long dedication to women and surrealism.


Saturday November 3, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm
Room B. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Humanities Lab (lower level)

11:00am

6.C. Surrealist Archipelagos
PANEL. Surrealist Archipelagos

"Canary Islands as Surrealist landscape"
Angeles Alemán Gómez
Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

The link between Surrealism and Canary Islands started with Oscar Dominguez paintings in 1934. A year later, André Breton, Jacqueline Lamba and Benjamin Peret travelled to Tenerife for opening the II International Surrealist Exhibition. André Breton was very impressed by the volcanic landscape of Tenerife, and he wrote about the Teide mountain a central chapter of L’Amour fou. Several years later Eduardo Westerdahl, Breton’ host, and devoted surrealist critic of art himself, met and married Surrealist artist Maud Bonneaud. She went to live in Tenerife after 1953, and until 1965, they organised surrealist exhibitions in the Instituto de Estudios Hispánicos de Canarias (IEHC). Among the exhibitions they organised was an Eileen Agar exhibition. Agar, a very important British surrealist painter, used to spend winter in Tenerife. She painted the volcanic landscape and the legendary heroes of Canary Islands as well. Valentine Penrose the surrealist poet, visited Tenerife several times in those years, invited by Maud Bonneaud -Westerdahl. She wrote beautiful poems about the volcanic landscape and about local folklore. She had a strong friendship with several surrealist poets of Canary Islands, such as Pedro Garcia Cabrera and Domingo Perez Minik. In this paper, I will try to explain how important Surrealism was in Canary Islands and how the volcanic landscape of these Islands was a source of inspiration to Surrealist poets and painters. Key words: Surrealism, Volcanic landscape, André Breton, Maud Bonneaud, Eileen Agar, Valentine Penrose.

“Eugenio Fernández Granell, Surrealism and the Caribbean”
Natalia Fernández
Fundación Eugenio Granell

My presentation will address the importance of the Spanish surrealist painter, Eugenio Fernández Granell who, in the 40s and 50s, was instrumental in introducing surrealism to two Caribbean islands: the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. Granell landed in the Dominican Republic after fleeing in exile at the end of the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939). He began painting in this island and his first one-man show (1943) had a terrific impact on the island’s culture. The exhibit (and others that followed) was welcomed as groundbreaking for the island. André Breton, also in exile, landed for a few days in the island. Granell, who wrote for the “La Nación” newspaper interviewed him. Breton encouraged him and a long lasting friendship began. In 1950 Granell moved to Puerto Rico to become an art teacher at its university. The students who studied under him, both men and women, with time became important painters, poets, writers of the Puerto Rican cultural scene. They created a group called “El Mirador Azul” (“The Blue Lookout”). In the 60s, living now in New York City, Granell's friendship with Marcel Duchamp facilitated several gallery shows in that city. Granell was also involved with the New York surrealist group which found much comfort and support in his words and his work. Throughout many years he participated in Edouard Jaguer’s “Phases” Group.

“Eugenio Fernández Granell's The Novel of the Tupinamba Indian"
David Coulter
Independent Artist and Translator
My presentation will address Eugenio Fernández Granell's The Novel of the Tupinamba Indian, a book that Michael Richardson calls “one of the finest of all novels written by surrealists.” The book is especially noteworthy for being the only novel about the Spanish Civil War written by a surrealist (that is, one who actively participated in surrealist exhibitions mounted by the Paris surrealist group) as opposed to being a “surreal” novel. My introductory remarks will focus on major themes of the novel: Eugenio Granell’s participation in the Spanish Civil War, exile, colonialism, and contact with the Caribbean. In addition, I will discuss political, philosophical, literary (Cervantes, Ramón del Valle-Inclán, surrealism) and artistic (Goya, Picasso, Wifredo Lam, et al) influences on the author and the novel. It is noteworthy that Granell’s doctoral thesis at The New School for Social Research, Picasso’s Guernica: The End of a Spanish Era, explores the modern era of Spain through the prism of Picasso’s painting and tauromachy, “the whole disruption of the bullfighting order – the violent crumbling of the ideal society”. My presentation will include reading passages from the novel.

Speakers
DC

David Coulter

Independent Artist and Translator
NF

Natalia Fernández

Fundación Eugenio Granell
avatar for Angeles Alemán Gómez

Angeles Alemán Gómez

Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria
Women artists, Avant garde in Canary Islands, Contemporary art, Cultural Heritage, Culture and tourism

Chairs
KW

Kristin Watterott

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin


Saturday November 3, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm
Room C. Vaughan Literature: Willard Smith Library (ground floor)

11:00am

6.D. Mirror of Myth
PANEL. Mirror of Myth

"Valentine Penrose, 
Mythologie de l’Ile et de Février : Myth and Surrealism"
Séverine Orban, PhD
College of Idaho
Valentine Penrose, born Boué, was a French poet, novelist and collagist who participated in the Surrealist Movement. However Penrose’s surrealism is found in a ‘beyond’ poetically clever –she is always on the search for the perfection and accuracy of words and symbols–, and mystical for her knowledge of the Unconscious is superior to Breton’s one. Mythologie de l’Ile et de Février is a minuscule theater play about a mythological dynasty based in Tenerife. This set of 18 poems published in 1962 in Metamorphoses, and forgotten since then, is remarkable by the complexity of its symbolic, by the use of a broad range of references from ancient mythology, chanson de gestes to astrology. In this conference, we wish to revisit the question of myth in the surrealist movement by looking, on the one hand, at Breton’s discourse on it and on the other hand by studying the actualization of the creation of a myth by Penrose. Mythologie de l’Ile et de Février is unique for it doesn’t base its content on a preexisting myth: it is sole an original creation. We hope to also challenge both Breton’s vision of myth and Penrose’s creation by confronting them with each other as well as with the greater discourse on myth and literature.

"Kurt Seligmann Through The Mirror of Magic"
Celia Rabinovitch

University of Manitoba
Kurt Seligmann Through The Mirror of Magic investigates how the Swiss American artist, Kurt Seligmann (1900-1962) created and combined themes from surrealism, his personal history, and occult research, and uncovers the hidden influence of Jewish mysticism and the Kabbala that informs his book The Mirror of Magic. After conducting ethnography among the Gitksan and Tsimshian peoples of British Columbia, feeling the impending pressure of fascism in Europe, Seligmann immigrated to the USA in 1939. The Mirror of Magic, (New York: Pantheon, 1948), entered the effervescent cultural mix that included Joseph Campbell, Wallace Stevens, Carl Gustav Jung, and others. Recently, Seligmann’s art has come to the fore, while his book remained constant in the history of religions. The Mirror of Magic (1948) prefigured writings by the great historian of religion, Mircea Eliade, whose Patterns in Comparative Religion was published ten years later, or Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces, also published by Pantheon a year later, in 1949. These thinkers sought a primal or ur-myth – a “monomyth” behind all mythology. Seligmann was the only one of a generation of speculative thinkers on the sacred that pursued an active art practice, and he was understood how to make matter become metaphor. This paper shows how Seligmann’s magical pursuit in his art and writing arose from themes in Jewish mysticism that remained hidden from the surrealists and even from himself. The Mirror of Magic has continued in print for 70 years. This year an illustrated edition from Inner Traditions Press, is forthcoming (October, 2018).

"Estrangement and Myth in the Essays and Poetry of César Moro"
Josué Rodríguez
Rutgers University
The life and work of Peruvian Surrealist poet César Moro (1903-1956) reminds that the most productive artistic experimentation is often the result of seemingly insurmountable pressures. As Stefan Baciu writes, “It is hard to find an atmosphere more hostile and more closed to the avant-garde’s spirit of renewal in Latin America than the city of Lima [Peru] during the decades of Surrealism’s formation: the 20s and the 30s.” In Surrealism’s celebration of freedom, the hallucinatory, the erotic, and the international, Moro saw “the ideal language in which to articulate his own marginality or sense of invisibility.” In adopting French as his primary poetic language and promoting Surrealism across Latin America, his enthusiastic answer to the Surrealist call sought to enact a spiritual and physical escape from the stifling constraints of his contemporary Peruvian society. In this paper, I argue that Moro’s exploration of this exilic alienation amid a burgeoning network of artists in the early 20th century underscores the colonial tensions within the avant-garde discourses of Europe and Latin America. Specifically, while French director and poet Antonin Artaud’s “Theater of Cruelty” expresses a European fetishization of Latin America’s pre-modern, primitive landscapes and peoples as sites of magical, creative purity, Moro’s work celebrates the fraught, irrecoverable nature of these mythic origins in his critique of national identity. The construction of poetic belonging in essays like “Biografia Peruana” (1942) and poems, “A vista perdida,” (1938) and “Adresse aux trois règnes,” (1943) re-energizes what some call the ghost-like, posthumous presence of Surrealism in Latin America to bear the marks of modernity’s colonialist estrangements before creating new, utopic spaces of linguistic habitation.

Speakers
avatar for Celia Rabinovitch

Celia Rabinovitch

artist, cultural historian, University of Manitoba
As an independent, I look to exhibit my painting in innovative themes and venues. I am open to speaking engagements and short form workshops. Collaborative partnerships that are direct and fun on content we love. My current interests are on art and the sacred, and the uncanny in... Read More →
JR

Josué Rodríguez

Rutgers University

Chairs
IF

Ilene Fort

Curator Emerita of American, Los Angeles County Museum of Art


Saturday November 3, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm
Room D. Bertrand Library: Traditional Reading Room (second floor)

11:00am

6.E. Surrealist Renaissance
PANEL. Surrealist Renaissance

“'Je suis ce chevalier qu’on dit de la charrette': Robert Desnos and Lancelot on the Edge of Life and Death”
Simon Rogghe
University of California, Berkeley

The influence of medieval literature on French surrealism is palpable in various surrealist works, from Eluard’s medieval anthology to Breton’s portrayal of the fay Mélusine, as well Aragon’s praise of Chrétien de Troyes and his Arthurian-inspired Brocéliande. This connection is more than an “influence,” however. As Breton puts it in the first Manifeste, the criterium for belonging to surrealism is that one has given oneself over, through automatism, to “la voix surréaliste.” This implies that the surrealist voice is not confined to the 20th century, as it was the same voice that shook “Cumes, Dodone et Delphes” (Breton, OC I 344-45). In this paper, I will explore how Lancelot, in Le Chevalier de la Charrette, can be seen as a surrealist figure similar to Desnos during the hypnotic sleep experiments. This juxtaposition not only casts this medieval text in a more surrealist light, but also accentuates aspects of Desnos that would otherwise have remained less visible. Looking more closely at Desnos’s drawings and aphorisms produced under hypnosis, I will show how both figures have the uncanny ability to cross over into the “other” realm—a realm that closely resembles death. While Desnos depicted the death of various members of the group under hypnosis, Lancelot comes upon a cemetery with the future graves of the Knights of the Round Table. Such a cemetery is also depicted in Desnos’s Nouvelles Hébrides, with the names of his fellow surrealists (among others) inscribed on the tombs. Drawing on these analogies, I will show how both Desnos and Lancelot can be seen as liminal figures bridging two previously separate realms of experience: life and death, waking and sleeping, reality and imagination.

Aimé Césaire and Renaissance Colonialism”
Kimberly Bressler
Indiana University of Pennsylvania

Throughout the literary community, it has widely been debated that Aimé Césaire’s surrealist play, Une Tempête—a reworking of Shakespeare’s The Tempest—aims to bring to light the psychological and socio-political struggles faced by natives during the South African Apartheid of the 1960’s. Scholars, such as Joytsna Singh, contend that the characters of Caliban and Ariel within Césaire’s play are ideal representatives of the challenges faced by the populous during the Apartheid. Arguably, these scholars have not adequately addressed the ways in which Césaire’s surrealist perspective gives insight into the interpretation of Caliban’s character within Shakespeare’s play itself. My paper addresses this gap with special attention to Shakespeare’s design of Caliban as a monstrous creature who is less than human in nature compared to Césaire’s design, which presents him nearer to a black slave of the time of the South African Apartheid and a creature whose desires and language reflect the marvelous seen within surrealism. Specifically, I will analyze how this description and characterization of Caliban within Césaire’s play provides insight into the Caliban of Shakespeare’s production through a surrealist lens. Ultimately, I argue that Césaire’s perspective on colonization within his play gives much insight into the ideas surrounding colonialism during Shakespeare’s time period. In conclusion, by closely examining this postcolonial surrealist response to Shakespeare’s play, as well as the historical stages of the play, this project sheds new light on the rarely acknowledged issue of colonization during the Renaissance period through the use of Aimé Césaire’s Une Tempête.

"'Lunar’ Painters and ‘Sadist’ Engravers: The Surrealist Framing of Renaissance Masters in Minotaure"
Tessel Bauduin
Universiteit van Amsterdam

This paper’s starting point is the French art review Minotaure (1933-39), an interesting example of the surrealists’s move into the art field and the domains of art history/art criticism specifically. Remarkably, Minotaure managed to be both polyphonic and coherent, presenting a broad range of diverse subjects but maintaining consistency throughout each issue – achieved not least by an innovative visual-spatial organisation of images. Among the subjects discussed and reproduced in its pages are late-medieval and earlymodern masters Paolo Uccello, Piero di Cosimo, Urs Graff, and Lucas Cranach the Elder, among others. First I will establish Minotaure as a specifically surrealist periodical, positioning its editor Tériade’s views as stongly affiliated to surrealism. Subsequently I will move to my main argument, concerning the old masters and the particular way they are textually and visually framed in Minotaure. Offering a close-reading of selected essays and visual organisation of images, I will show how these artists were positioned within their time – the Renaissance, no less – then as out of time, even timeless, only to be drawn into the contemporary, their pastness being turned to presentness in the service of surrealism and surrealist aesthetics. Vasari figures conspicuously in the essays, indicating a surrealist revision of traditional (biography-based) art historical narratives. Drawing out parallels to Warburg’s Mnemosyne Bilderatlas and Riegl’s anti-heroic art history, I hope to make clear that in Minotaure the old masters were ‘surrealised’ to considerable extent and their art was repositioned as a forum for surrealist interventions in art historical discourse of the time.

Speakers
avatar for Tessel Bauduin

Tessel Bauduin

Universiteit van Amsterdam
KB

Kimberly Bressler

Indiana University of Pennsylvania
avatar for Simon Rogghe

Simon Rogghe

University of California, Berkeley

Chairs
avatar for Elliott King

Elliott King

Associate Professor of Art History, Washington & Lee


Saturday November 3, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm
Room E. Bertrand Library: East Reading Room (second floor)

11:00am

6.F. Spiritual Disciplines, Sacred & Profane
PANEL. Spiritual Disciplines, Sacred & Profane

"Mexican Carnival: Profanations in Luis Buñuel’s Nazarín and Simón del desierto"
Lars Nowak
Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg 

In view of current reinvigorations of religious fanaticism, surrealism retains its importance not least because of its critical (however ambiguous) attitude toward religion – an attitude that was also shared by its most famous film director, Luis Buñuel. My paper will focus on two of his lesser known works, Nazarín (1959) and Simón del desierto (1965), whose title characters, a Catholic priest and a Christian stylite respectively, choose an ascetic lifestyle in order to be closer to God, but alienate themselves from their own physical existence as well as their fellow human beings. However, Simón’s mental weaknesses and Nazarín’s social failures finally reduce the characters to their ordinary human measure. While this reduction can be described as profanation in the spirit of earlier attempts to apply Mikhail Bakhtin’s theory of carnivalism to Buñuel’s oeuvre, I will go even further by paying particular attention to the Mexican context of both films. Mexico was one of the most important countries for surrealism’s propagation outside of France, thanks in part to the many inspirations its culture could lend to this artistic movement. Among these was the amalgamation of Spanish Catholicism and occult indigenous religions, which manifested itself in the carnival celebration that was brought to Mexico by the Spanish colonizers and readily accepted by the original residents, not only as a temporary relief from colonial hardships, but also due to its affinities to their own traditional festivities. One of the many surrealist immigrants in Mexico was Buñuel, who produced no less than twenty films there, including Nazarín and Simón del desierto, whose storylines were influenced by this geographical background. While the latter film eventually moves from ancient Syria to modern North America, the entire story of the former takes place in Mexico, circumstances that relate to the motif of profanation. This is particularly evident in the case of Nazarín, who is ironically profaned by being perceived as a miracle healer due to the appropriation of his Catholicism by the deep-seated pagan belief of the locals. The paper will highlight these and other similarities between both films, but also account for their differences. For instance, while Nazarín’s horizontal migration parodies pilgrimage, Simón’s degradation finds direct expression in his vertical downward move from his column.

"'A Beautiful Princess without Bones': The Destabilizing Surrealism(s) of Takahashi Shinkichi and Takiguchi Shūzō"
George Kalamaras
Purdue University

Japan in the 1920s and 1930s was a hotbed for Dadaist and Surrealist activities. Two poets stand out: Takahashi Shinkichi, who in 1923 published Dadaisuto Shinkichi no shi (Poems of Dadaist Shinkichi), and Takiguchi Shūzō, who was imprisoned because, as Hiroaki Sato notes, “he advocated Surrealism,” and who, along with Nishiwaki Junzaburo, is often considered one of the two founders of the movement in Japan. While embracing Dada and Surrealism as sites of rebellion, Takahashi and Takiguchi approach the avant-garde in radically different ways, Takahashi evolving from Dada to Surrealism and ultimately to Zen poetics, and Takiguchi arguing for a homegrown Surrealism, endemic to Japan, which cannot be a far-eastern rendering of its French counterpart: “Surrealism,” he says, “that is the movement of ‘surrealism’ which has spread from France, cannot, in its original form, completely match the situation in our country. . .” Takahashi’s later embrace of Zen can be seen not as a departure from but as a development of his Surrealism, both grounded in visionary poetics. Takiguchi’s practice of a seemingly “purer” Surrealism (he writes, “The air is a beautiful princess without bones”) is largely based on psychic automatism specific to his cultural identity. My paper explores these two streams, arguing that both were necessary to simultaneously situate and destabilize Surrealism in Japan, the destabilization being a development of the movement. Both the grounding and the “unhinging” of Surrealism were ultimately necessary to forge a new Surrealism specific to Japan.

“Spiritual Surrealists: Joseph Cornell, Mina Loy, and Religious Currents in Interwar American Surrealism”
Erika Doss
University of Notre Dame

In 1932, Joseph Cornell began showing his collages at Julien Levy’s New York gallery; in 1936, he was included in the Museum of Modern Art’s groundbreaking exhibition Fantastic Art: Dada and Surrealism. This paper contextualizes Cornell within New York’s interwar Surrealist orbit, especially under the guiding influence of Marcel Duchamp, and considers how his art subjects and styles were further shaped by his faith in Christian Science, a religion he joined in 1926. Cornell was indubitably influenced by Max Ernst’s Surrealist collages, which he first saw at Levy’s gallery in late 1931. Yet his goal, he told Levy and reiterated in his diaries, was to make a modern art of “white magic.” As he explained to MoMA curator Alfred Barr in 1936: “I believe that surrealism has healthier possibilities than have been developed.” Cornell’s use of the word “healthier” was intentionally self-revealing: he was pointedly alerting Barr that his version of Surrealism was based on the restorative directives of Christian Science, which asserts that reality is constituted by “divine Mind” and centers on divine healing. Cornell’s interest in a “healthier” kind of Surrealism was shared by his friend Mina Loy, an avant-garde poet and artist who was also Christian Science (and Levy’s mother-in-law). Exploring how their art similarly embodied their mutual faith in the alternate reality of spirit and the ephemerality of matter, key tenets in Christian Science, “Spiritual Surrealists” considers why certain interwar American moderns turned to Surrealism to visualize their religious beliefs.

Speakers
avatar for Erika Doss

Erika Doss

University of Notre Dame
GK

George Kalamaras

Purdue University
LN

Lars Nowak

Universität Erlangen-Nürnberg

Chairs
PT

Pierre Taminiaux

Georgetown University


Saturday November 3, 2018 11:00am - 12:30pm
Room F. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Large Seminar Room (first floor)

12:00pm

12:30pm

Lunch
Lunch is served in two rooms on the 2nd Floor of the Elaine Langone Center:

1. Walls Lounge
2. Center Room

Saturday November 3, 2018 12:30pm - 1:45pm
Elaine Langone Center (second floor)

2:00pm

7.A. Personae Politics
PANEL. Personae Politics

"Dark Novel Surrealisms/Anti-Fascisms: Exquisite Corpse"
Jeannette Baxter
Anglia Ruskin University

This paper will discuss aspects of a monograph-in-progress, Dark Novel Surrealisms: Exquisite Corpse, which seeks to bring a particular, and particularly neglected, form of British surrealist writing into view: the ‘dark’ surrealist anti-fascist novel. In so doing, this book initiates a much needed re-evaluation of the formal and conceptual diversity of British surrealist literary production within, and across, the twentieth- and twenty-first centuries, whilst it opens up a new trajectory of enquiry into how, and with what implications, the surrealist novel has contributed, and continues to contribute, to the historiography of British anti-fascist literature. If this revisionist study is to make a serious case for the legitimacy and longevity of the British surrealist anti-fascist novel, however, it can only do so by uprooting British surrealist writing from the critically-imposed temporal, formal and intellectual categories that currently limit and define it. Such a move demands, in turn, a fundamental re-evaluation of the ways in which British surrealist anti-fascism exists in relation to that of its international counterparts, most notably, but not exclusively, those of the Paris-based surrealists. For too long, Anglo- American literary critics have tended to lock British and Paris-based literary surrealism into a historically-closed and mutually deleterious relationship that fails to account adequately for the complexity of the surrealist anti-fascist imagination, whilst failing to consider entirely the dynamic role that British novelists have played, and continue to play, in shaping and energizing it. Conceived conceptually and formally in response to this narrative of critical stasis, then, this book, which is an experiment in surrealist critical historiography, un/folds an alternative history of British surrealist and anti-fascist literature, one that calls for a radical reassessment of the nature and extent of the relationship between the surrealist, fascist and anti-fascist imaginations in the interwar and wartime periods, and beyond, as it makes room for a very different set of new – or novel – surrealisms to emerge.

"Books Without an Audience: The Samizdat Publications of the Czech Surrealist Group in the 1970s and 1980s "
Kristin Watterott
Humboldt-University Berlin

The Czech surrealist group Skupina surrealistů v ČSR was founded in 1934 and continues to exist today; it’s one of very few artist collectives that has remained active long after its initial formation. In former Czechoslovakia, during the 1970s and 1980s, the Surrealist Group was displaced from the public cultural sphere by the authoritarian cultural policy of the Communist regime. From this point onwards, meetings and artistic exchanges were held in private. The group focused primarily on independently produced, privately circulated documents, so-called “Samizdat” publications. In 20 years of public isolation, the community produced five Samizdat volumes in form of exhibition catalogues, anthologies and the magazine Gambra. The issues focused on various themes such as dreams, humor, and poetry, and presented individual and collective surrealist actions with pictures, quotations, and written descriptions. The editions can be read simultaneously as media of documentation that reconstruct surrealist practice and, at the same time, as artists’ books, the content of which exhibited its own specific artistic forms and theories of art. In this paper, I explore the unacknowledged dual-function of the ‘70s and ‘80s Czech surrealist Samizdat as both an archival technique and a work of art. I investigate the function of these volumes for group artistic praxis and how it reflects creative production under the social conditions of the time.

Speakers
JB

Jeannette Baxter

Anglia Ruskin University
KW

Kristin Watterott

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Chairs
PR

Penelope Rosemont

Independent Artist


Saturday November 3, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Room A. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Great Room Annex (ground floor)

2:00pm

7.B. L'Amours Folles
PANEL. L'Amours Folles

"'J’ai été sous une multitude de formes': Jacqueline Lamba, Aube Breton Elléouët, Yves Elléouët"
Mary Ann Caws
Graduate School of the City University of New York

Everything meets in surrealism: here, in one creative family around André Breton, there gather Brittany and Provence, painting, poetry, collages, letters and sagas. Adding to the moving witness borne from Calder to Leiris (in “réalisme transubstantié,” as he terms it), and to Yves Ellëouët’s recall of Virginia Woolf and Jean-Pierre Duprey – donc, la rencontre de la vie et de la mort – I want to add my own personal encounter over the years, haunting as it remains.

"The Before and After of André Breton's L’Amour fou: From the Collaborative to the Personal"
Molly O'Brien
Princeton University

On May 29, 1934, André Breton met and fell in love with Jacqueline Lamba in a moment of what he describes in L'Amour fou as hasard objectif. Taken up by this powerful story, the reader may not notice that this work was once previously published as individual articles in the magazines Minotaure, Documents , and Mesures. Seen in such a fragmentary way, the work then reflects the surrealist penchant for collaboration in the production of texts that seek to reveal the hidden material of the subconscious. Taken as a whole, the fragments-made-book reflects a different desire on the part of the singular writer to show the love that he shared with Jacqueline and the events that led up to and after it as objectively as possible. In my talk, I will examine the changes made between the articles and the book L'Amour fou and what effect this produces on our reading of them. I will focus on Minotaure as the primary media outlet for the articles and the structure and collaborative element of it that shaped them. I will also look at visual and textual factors within the work as a whole and its parts, including the choice of images, their genre, their placement, and their origins. I aim to reveal the movement from the collaborative, communal, open-ended dimensions of the articles facilitated by their inclusion in Minotaure to a more personal dimension in the book that stands alone and is more determined in its structure and meaning.

"Transcontinental Surrealism: André Breton’s L’Amour fou in the Poetry of César Moro, Xavier Villaurrutia, and Enrique Molina"
David Inczauskis
Loyola University Chicago

Surrealism crossed the Atlantic in a definitive way when the Peruvian poet César Moro traveled to Paris shortly after the publication of André Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto in 1924. Moro is representative of Latin American writers who sought to engage with surrealism in France and return to the Americas to develop their distinctive incarnation of the artistic movement. This presentation offers a literary analysis of three poems: “Carta a Antonio” (1939) by César Moro of Perú, “Nuestro amor” (1948) by Xavier Villaurrutia of Mexico, and “Alta marea” (1961) by Enrique Molina of Argentina. These poems encapsulate the extent to which Breton’s ideas marked their creative careers. The criticism will draw from excerpts of Breton’s L’Amour fou (1937) to provide a context for the interpretation of the poems’ surrealist elements. First, the presentation will detail what is shared among all three poems and L’Amour fou. These qualities include inexhaustible sexual desire, the paradox of union and separation, the eternally vivid sexual object, and the necessity of violence in eroticism. Second, the presentation will focus on what only Moro and Breton hold in common. These characteristics include the relationship between necessity and chance, the uniquely surrealist interpretation of the divinization of the beloved, and love’s specter-like quality. The presence of these surrealist components in the writings of these American poets demonstrates the transnational character of surrealism, which owes itself to the universality of erotic desire.

Speakers
MA

Mary Ann Caws

Graduate School of the City University of New York
DI

David Inczauskis

Loyola University Chicago
MO

Molly O'Brien

PhD Candidate, Princeton University

Chairs
avatar for Anna Watz

Anna Watz

Senior Lecturer, Linköping University


Saturday November 3, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Room B. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Humanities Lab (lower level)

2:00pm

7.C. Non-Ocular Senses
PANEL. Non-Ocular Senses

"Primat de la matière: Materializing Space and Time in Surrealist Photographic Techniques"
Sarah Kislingbury
Princeton University

Diverging from the semiotic and psychological readings of Surrealist photography, this paper looks to provide an analysis of the conceptions of space, time and light as they appear in select articles and photographs published in Minotaure. In reading contributions by Pierre Mabille, Tériade, Oscar Dominguez and André Breton, I show how Einsteinian and Bachelardian concepts were taken up by the Surrealist writers and made manifest through specific photographic techniques such as solorization and the blur. From Man Ray’s Explosante fixe to the Ubac’s photographic equivalent of the “lithochronic surface,” these photographic techniques allowed for the visualization of a petrified temporality and a conception of space as the material flesh in which latent forms reside. Protoplasmic and fertile, space and time opened new poetic possibilities which, like the flea markets in Breton’s L’Amour Fou, ushered in “la communication mysterieuse” through which visible and invisible realities were able to unite. Capable of rendering these invisible phenomena visible, photography became a central force in the dissemination not only of Surrealist aesthetics but also underscored scientific theories central to the group’s project. Further, as this paper will show, the material potentiality of space and time proposed in Surrealist articles and photographic techniques undermined traditional hierarchies and sought to rethink the limits between Man and Object, Mind and Matter.

“Bataille, Carrington and Colquhoun, or the Biopolitics of Visceral Surrealism”
Walter Kalaidjian
Emory University

In the critical reception of Leonora Carrington and Ithell Colquhoun, these two notable feminist surrealists have tended to be aligned with André Breton and, in particular, his 1929 turn to spiritualism, alchemy, and the occult in the Second Manifesto. In it, Breton inveighed against Georges Bataille’s materialist aesthetics and famously declared, “I ASK FOR THE PROFOUND, THE VERITABLE OCCULTATION OF SURREALISM.” Adopting the mantle of Symbolism and Romanticism, Breton’s aesthetic idealism was thereby set in opposition to Bataille’s emphasis on eroticism, sexual abjection, and a more visceral, materialist aesthetic in essays such as “The Solar Anus,” “The ‘Lugubrious Game’,” “The Pineal Eye,” and “The Jesuve,” among others from 1927-1939. Because Carrington and Colquhoun met and associated with Breton in Paris and elsewhere, and because they were both occult practitioners whose signature paintings and prose are steeped in spiritualism, theosophy, and myth, the critical tendency has been to align their surrealist aesthetics with Breton’s declarations of the Second Manifesto. Extending my recent scholarship presented at the 2017 MSA and 2018 Ithell Colquhoun international symposium, this original paper on Bataille, Carrington, and Colquhoun suggests new directions for critical approaches to Carrington and Colquhoun by rereading works such as Colquhoun’s I Saw Water and Carrington’s selected short stories through Bataille rather than Breton, thereby recovering the tension in their oeuvres between the idealism of spiritual theosophy vs. a more materialist declension of the flesh: one grounded in the immediacy of erotic transgression, sex magic, and the communal biopolitics of hybrid corporeality.

"Surrealism, Marine Life and Non-Ocular Modes of Sensing"
Christy Heflin
Royal Holloway University of London 

The obsessive representation of and violence against the eye is inescapable in Surrealist art, with works like Buñuel and Dalí’s Un Chien andalou and Bataille’s Histoire de l’oeil being the most renowned for their depictions of acts of ocular defilement. Over the years scholars like Martin Jay have questioned these artists’ intentions and have even gone so far as to position them as anti-ocular. Compromising the physical integrity of the eye is not necessarily an outright rejection of vision. Instead, it questions the hierarchy of the senses. The use of marine animals in Surrealist art seen in works by Jean Painlevé, Eileen Agar and Man Ray represents beings which rely on other modes of sensing, thus navigating their worlds without the visual primacy. I argue these artists are not anti-ocular but anti-ocularcentristic. Reflecting on Surrealist art featuring marine life, this paper also considers research from popular science journals that show advances in marine biology during the 1920s and 1930s that may have been read by the artists. Similar investigations by scholars such as Linda Dalrymple Henderson and Gavin Parkinson show other Surrealist artists’ interest in physics, mathematics and technology and their direct relation to Surrealist art. Surrealism’s depictions of marine life reflect an interest in alternative sensory regimes and rejects the primacy of vision above other senses, calling into question the position of the human-animal relation. These representations express a desire to move beyond the eye to expand perception in order to explore faculties of perception denied to the human eye.

Speakers
avatar for Christina Heflin

Christina Heflin

PhD Candidate, Royal Holloway University of London
avatar for Walter Kalaidjian

Walter Kalaidjian

Emory University
avatar for Sarah Kislingbury

Sarah Kislingbury

PhD Candidate, Princeton University

Chairs
LR

Lindsey Richter

Grace College


Saturday November 3, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Room C. Vaughan Literature: Willard Smith Library (ground floor)

2:00pm

7.D. Death Masks
PANEL. Death Masks

“Surrealist Specters: Jacques Vaché and the Invention of the Avant-Garde Ghost”
Hervé Picherit
University of Texas at Austin

“Jacques Vaché est surréaliste en moi." With this famous sentence from the first Surrealist Manifesto (1924), André Breton transforms his deceased friend into a founding specter of surrealism. Dead in 1919, Vaché would be the first of many specimens in a veritable menagerie of surrealist ghosts, revenants, and spirits. It remains however that Breton’s friend from Nantes represents a unique case in surrealist “hauntology.” More than any other ghost, Vaché reveals how surrealism’s fascination with haunting represents an essential attribute of this avant-garde movement. Indeed, Vaché’s death was preceded by a “crisis of mourning” that struck the western world beginning at the end of the Nineteenth-Century. Triggered by the social sciences’ eclipse of spiritism, and accelerated by the Great War, this crisis transformed the very meaning of death. No longer conceivable as a migration of spirits, to die was to lapse into non-being. It is this new finality of death—foreclosing the transitional space of ghosts and mourning—that colored Vaché’s passing. Thus the surrealists’ work to preserve the realm of ghosts and haunting in the face of a crisis that was at once personal and shared. Claiming pre-Freudian practices such as divination and automatic writing as their own, the surrealists aimed to transplant spiritism into the aesthetic realm. As such, surrealist thinking participated in a duplicitousness that conceived of haunting as both a figurative and a literal state. In this light, Vaché’s persistence “inside” of Breton is simultaneously a metaphorical, and a factual, proposition. More generally, the surrealist project worked against modern scientism and nihilism in order to preserve the mere possibility of ghosts.

“The Camera and Other Creatures: Luis Buñuel and the Obliteration of the Self”
James Lastra
University of Chicago

As his early apprenticeship with Jean Epstein and his film criticism attest, Buñuel was deeply acquainted with the cinematic concept of photogenie. Like fellow surrealist Louis Aragon, Buñuel’s particular brand of both photogenie and surrealism was distinctly object-focused, with an eccentric view of the self. Indeed, one could argue, as I have, that Buñuel belonged not to Breton’s mainstream surrealism, but to a dissident, fractious form that emphasized the obliteration of the self into the world, to become a thing among things, as inert as a bottle, as lifeless as a corpse. Following thinkers like Roger Caillois and Georges Bataille, Buñuel’s approach mimics Freud’s death drive in an attempt to merge with the world in a kind of pre-Oedipal ecstasy of self-forgetting.Buñuel found the camera and the photographic image to be a perfect means not to recover the outer world of dreams, things, and irrationality for an expanded subject, but to meld the subject with the world in an orgy of self-obliteration. The camera’s constitutional indifference to hierarchies between humans, animals, things, the animate and inanimate found practical expression in his almost entomological view of humanity, as well as in his citational filmic practice, raiding the world for favored objects, scenarios, films, and even his own work for a set of found objects on which to dwell. For Buñuel, the camera was a creature like any other, and its life-world was one he could inhabit to eradicate the human need for order, intellect, hierarchy, symbolism, and even the boundary between death and life.

“Framing Death: Mirrors, Masks, and the Objectness of Man Ray’s Photographic Portraits”
Keri Mongelluzzo
Pennsylvania State University

In the context of Surrealism, and particularly in the work of Man Ray, the photograph stands in relation to the Surrealist object. Cutout photographic fragments of a former lover’s eye appear as elements in assemblages, while the camera performs a Lacanian operation, transforming subject into object at the moment of exposure. Moreover, lost or destroyed sculptures persist only in photographic form, as is true of a plaster cast of Man Ray’s curious death mask from 1932. Although much has been written connecting photograph to death mask on the basis of a shared indexical relationship to the real, little has been said regarding the place of Man Ray’s mask within his photographic practice. Rife with masks and mirrors, Man Ray’s photographs exhibit physical contact as it is enacted among mask, figure, and mirror in each of the possible permutations: figures hold masks and busts to flesh, hands caress mirrors, and mirrors frame figures as disembodied masks. I argue that it is through this performance of touch as displayed in Man Ray’s photographs with mirrors and masks that the artist emphasizes the photographic image’s equal status as object. This inclusion within the photographic space of bodies in contact with reflected images, of matter against flesh, directs attention towards the photograph’s tactile qualities and its existence as a three-dimensional object. The photograph and its surface, like mirrored planes and Man Ray’s death mask with eyes open, act as a threshold, or liminal space, between animate and inanimate, life and death, self and other.

Speakers
JL

James Lastra

University of Chicago
avatar for Keri Mongelluzzo

Keri Mongelluzzo

Ph.D. Candidate in Art History, Pennsylvania State University
A doctoral candidate in art history at Penn State, Keri Mongelluzzo specializes in photography of the interwar avant-garde. Her dissertation, “Bauhaus/Dream House: The Uncharted Surrealism of New Vision Photography,” explores the ways in which surrealism infiltrated the sterile... Read More →
HP

Hervé Picherit

University of Texas at Austin

Chairs
RB

Robin Blaetz

Chair of Film Studies; Professor of Film Studies, Mount Holyoke College


Saturday November 3, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Room D. Bertrand Library: Traditional Reading Room (second floor)

2:00pm

7.E. Contemporary Legacies of Surrealism (1 of 2)
PANEL. Contemporary Legacies of Surrealism (1 of 2)

Part 1 of a double session which brings together several experts to explore surrealism in contemporary art. Surrealism's presence in contemporary art, be it as heritage, source of inspiration, practice, or otherwise, is not uncontested. By first offering four case studies, the panel will form a solid basis for a subsequent extended discussion of the issue of surrealism in the contemporary. The panel speakers are practicing artists and academic specialists; they will not only bring a range of experiences and expertise to the table but will also be able to reflect on the issue of contemporary (legacies of) surrealism from an art making-standpoint.

By the late 1930s, surrealism was already being historicised. By the 1960s it was becoming canonised and relegated to the category “historical avant-gardes”, vibrant surrealist communities worldwide notwithstanding. Surrealist activities still continued during the 1970s through 1990s, into the present, and several surrealists strongly advocate(d) against the view that surrealism was over and done with. In contemporary art traces of surrealism are tangibly present – indeed, globally several artists are claimed to be, or position themselves as, surrealist. This panel explores contemporary legacies and practices of surrealism. The speakers will address concerns at the heart of historical surrealism as much as contemporary practice: hauntology, the surrealist landscape, automatism, oneiric atmospheres, and radical film. Another red thread running through the presentations is the presence of occultism.

"The Haunted Isle: Conjuring England’s Subconscious Landscape"
Dominic Shepherd

Arts University Bournemouth
The landscape of the British Isles is a disparate and much contested space layered with both myth and fact, as several surrealists have explored. British surrealists Ithell Colquhoun (Cornwall) and Paul Nash (Dorset) visualised and described their particular localities as holders of the subconscious, poetically described as the spirit of place. For Colquhoun Celtic Cornwall was an occult and gendered land, one of earth mysteries. For Nash the Purbecks became an edge-lands where past and future, interior and exterior, collide. The writers W.G. Sebald (East Anglia) and Ian Sinclair (London) walked the land; as flaneurs they utilised investigative techniques and psychic emanations to sift this historically complex landscape. Extant England, the dominant state of the United Kingdom, is currently a much-divided territory politically, culturally and socially. In what form do the legacies of surrealism continue to investigate the land as a catalyst of revelation? In this paper, I will investigate how surrealistic approaches are intrinsic to conjuring the hauntologies of place through the work of two contemporary practitioners, one located in the urban, the other rural. Tom Hicks, a member of the Wolverhampton Psychogeographical Bureau, investigates the future nostalgia that permeates the environment of the post-industrial Black Country. I myself am located in ancient woodland on a feudal estate, and within my artistic practice this west country idyll acts as a visionary tool; the romantic legacy of British myth becomes a means to divination and cultural questioning.

"Automatism: Hidden Legacies"
Jesse Bransford

New York University 
Automatism is a core component in the surrealist modus operandi, yet its direct lineage to spiritualism and other occult practices has been avoided and obfuscated by both psychology’s and surrealism’s bid for scientific validity and cultural relevance. What are the implications of this obfuscation, and how has it both benefited and hampered an understanding of what is at stake in surrealisms aims, both historically and in the contemporary moment? The argument will proceed from the assumption that the burial of the spiritual/occult lineage belies the unresolved dialectic between technological and human modes of interpretation, characterized variously as oppositions between subjective and objective positions, freedom and responsibility, or the political schism between democracy and fascism. Scientific assumptions will be called into question as it will be noted they exist within these categories and function easily on either side of the polemic. Automatism will then be redefined in accordance with a series of propositions (animism, ecology, post-Nietzschean thought, and contemporary magical thought, among others) to reclaim the territory so painfully concealed following WWII, a concealment that has subtracted an important component necessary for an understanding of the rise of fascism in Europe and elsewhere. A bridge between the Victorian and Modern sensibilities, automatism begs the question of externality, immanence and otherness, and draws a sometimes unsettling history of humanity’s continuing relationship to the world.

"Magic at 24 Frames Per Second"
Judith Noble
Plymouth College of Arts
This paper will consider the legacies of surrealism in avant-garde and “underground” film in the US and the UK as manifested in the work of film makers and artists including Kenneth Anger, Stan Brakhage, Jeff Keen, Carolee Schneemann, Jack Smith, Derek Jarman and her own early work. The association of the avant-garde with surrealism began with Maya Deren’s contact with the émigré surrealists in New York during World War Two. Surrealism enabled a cinematic exploration of interiority and desire and freed film from the constraints of conventional theatric narrative and performance, whilst newly available 16mm film stock and lightweight cameras freed it from the large- scale industrial production methods of Hollywood, and a radical avant-garde was born. From its beginnings, the avant-garde was concerned with trance, dream, magic, the occult and the “manifestation of the unknown in the known” (Deren). From Deren’s examinations of the Western ritual tradition and Haitian Voudoun, through Anger’s lavish film ritual, Brakhage’s interiority laid bare, Smith and Schneemann’s radical explorations of gender, sexuality and transgression, to Jarman’s poetic visual alchemy, experimental film makers have woven the concerns of later Bretonian surrealism into a new art form. This avant-garde has combined an insistence on the importance of the materiality of film as both a physical and temporal medium with its ability to act as a doorway into the imaginal and inner world of dreams and visions. The legacy of surrealism is clearly evident in both the form and the content of avant-garde/ underground film, as this paper will argue.

"Image and Historical Trauma in Bady Minck’s Im Anfang War Der"
Patricia Allmer

University of Edinburgh
The surrealist cinema of Luxembourgian director Bady Minck draws on a series of traditions - filmic, pictorial, intellectual, pop-cultural - to trace the traumas of history within the visual field. Im Anfang War Der Blick (‘In the beginning was the eye’, 2003), drawing stylistically on surrealist-influenced animators like Švankmajer and Gilliam, uses an archive of picture postcards to construct image-narratives of Austrian Landschaftsgeschichte, conceived as endless, repetitive scenes of kitsch, touristic banality. The film thus provides an animated gloss on Walter Benjamin’s famous ninth Thesis on the Philosophy of History: “Where we see the appearance of a chain of events, [the Angelus Novus] sees one single catastrophe, which unceasingly piles rubble on top of rubble and hurls it before his feet”. Stop-motion and animation interact to perform this double-perception of historical trauma as simultaneously narrative and event. Im Anfang becomes, in this light, an allegory of Austria’s involvement in and subsequent traumatic repression of the Holocaust.

Speakers
avatar for Patricia Allmer

Patricia Allmer

University of Edinburgh
avatar for Jesse Bransford

Jesse Bransford

Clinical Associate Professor, Department Chair, New York University, Steinhardt School, Department of Art and Art Professions
Jesse Bransford is a New York-based artist whose work is exhibited internationally at venues including The Carnegie Museum of Art, the UCLA Hammer Museum, PS 1 Contemporary Art Center and the CCA Wattis Museum among others. He holds degrees from the New School for Social Research... Read More →
JN

Judith Noble

head of Academic research, Plymouth College of Art
My areas of research are film (especially the experimental and avant-garde) and occultism and magic. Within that, I have a specific interest in surrealism and the work of Maya Deren. I am joint co-ordinator of the Black Mirror research network (with Dominic Shepherd, Jesse Bransford... Read More →
DS

Dominic Shepherd

Arts University Bournemouth

Chairs
JN

Judith Noble

head of Academic research, Plymouth College of Art
My areas of research are film (especially the experimental and avant-garde) and occultism and magic. Within that, I have a specific interest in surrealism and the work of Maya Deren. I am joint co-ordinator of the Black Mirror research network (with Dominic Shepherd, Jesse Bransford... Read More →
avatar for Tessel Bauduin

Tessel Bauduin

Universiteit van Amsterdam


Saturday November 3, 2018 2:00pm - 3:30pm
Room E. Bertrand Library: East Reading Room (second floor)

3:30pm

Break
Coffee, tea and snacks in Hildreth-Mirza Hall

Saturday November 3, 2018 3:30pm - 4:00pm
Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Great Room (ground floor)

4:00pm

8.A. Traumatic Images
PANEL. Traumatic Images

“Surrealism, War and Camouflage”
Samantha Kavky
Pennsylvania State University, Berks

In 1942, André Breton insisted that “surrealism can be understood historically only in relation to the war… in relation at the same time to the war from which it issues and the war to which it extends.” Rhetorically collapsing both World Wars into one, Breton positions them not simply as historical brackets, but as internal and integral to surrealism itself. This can be demonstrated by looking at the function of mimetic performance and camouflage within surrealist visual practice. In response to World War I, as the nascent surrealists sought to mimic various forms of mental derangement as a form of political challenge, they granted a privileged position to hysterical mimicry for its ability to contest medical and military authority. In the techniques and images of visual artists such as Max Ernst and writings such as those of Roger Caillois, mimeticism, associated with simulation, paralysis, hysteria, and neurasthenia, poses a subversive counter to military aggression. Caillois diverges from the authority of evolutionary biology, claiming that mimetic animals exhibit a type of death drive rather than a will to survive. With this history, it is rather surprising that several artists associated with surrealism worked in military camouflage units or taught courses on camouflage during the Second World War: Roland Penrose, Stanley William Hayter, Arshile Gorky. In this paper I will look more closely at this generational shift and at camouflage as quintessentially surrealist in its ability to collapse oppositions such as: figure/ground, active/passive and visible/invisible.

"The Surrealism of Trauma"
Harold Schweizer
Bucknell University

André Breton’s interest in surrealist writing originated in his extensive exposure to trauma as a medical student (esp. of neuropathology) and as stretcher bearer during WWI. Similarly, in a recent article in Brain: A Journal of Neurology, Apollinaire is said to have attributed Chirico’s first paintings to “the influence of cenesthetic disorder (migraine, colic, etc.).” While the relationship between surrealism and trauma has traceable historical and biographical dimensions, I would like to examine, more conceptually, what Maurice Blanchot in his essay on surrealism has called “an experience of that which does not obey the reigning order of experience.” Concepts such as immediacy, disruption, arbitrariness, gratuitousness, otherness, surprise—all unmasterable—are common to surrealism and trauma. But far more ominously, the intense, pure passion of the surrealist’s “disinterested play,” as Blanchot puts it, is suffered by the traumatized in body and spirit. For the traumatized, the Kantian aesthetic of disinterested play, overtly echoed in Blanchot’s wording, is endured as a dreadful, fated necessity. Are these merely differences of intensity? Is the surrealist not also visited, also fated, does she not also write by necessity? If so, then surrealism and trauma have similar Kantian phenomenologies; then surrealism articulates an experience otherwise suffered in the traumatized’s mute material body; then trauma epitomizes the gravitas of surrealist practice. I will elucidate these questions and speculations as they resonate in contemporary poems— necessarily surreal—on the war in Syria and the European refugee crisis.

"Dreams of Anarchy and the Anarchy of Dreams"
Ron Sakolsky
University of Illinois at Springfield

Throughout its history, the surrealist movement has had a passional attraction to revolution. When examining the historical connections between surrealists/surrealism and anarchists/anarchism, it is clear that their mutually subversive dreams of the impossible have repeatedly interacted in ways that have fruitfully critiqued and informed one another from the early part of the twentieth century to the present day. However, art historians have typically associated the radical politics of surrealism with Marxism, and that affiliation is often contrasted to dada which is usually paired with anarchism. Instead of accepting this conventional dichotomy, my research seeks to highlight the many affinities and intersections between the ideas and practices of anarchy and surrealism. In addition to the surrealist movement's well-known but unhappy and short-lived relationship with the Communist Party, there has always been an ongoing relationship between surrealism and both individualist and communitarian forms of anarchy. Each of the latter have in their own ways disrupted a singularly Marxist trajectory for the surrealist movement and heretically questioned the authoritarian Stalinist dogma of the Communist Party, particularly in relation to its stated cultural policy of "socialist realism” and its active suppression of the anarchist revolution in Spain during the Spanish Civil War because anarchy was perceived to be a threat to the Party's revolutionary hegemony on the world stage. Eventually the surrealist movement would endorse a proposal for an anarchist regime of individual freedom in the sphere of intellectual creation as enshrined in the Mexican Manifesto of 1938 which was co-authored by André Breton and the exiled Leon Trotsky. In the political realm, the Manifesto was couched in the provisional acceptance of a “dictatorship of the proletariat” in the form of a state headed by Trotsky that would supposedly wither away in due course. However, in the postwar years, Breton would disassociate himself from Trotsky citing the latter's brutal crushing of the Kronstadt uprising by the Red Army under his command in the early days of the Russian Revolution as an "indelible stain” on statist revolutionary aspirations. In the early Fifties, Breton would go on to declare himself to be an anarchist in his “Tower of Light” essay published in Le Libertaire as the Paris Surrealist Group became directly involved with the French Anarchist Federation for a time. In the next decade, with the anti-authoritarian upheavals of 1968 in Paris, Chicago and Prague, as well as in regard to the turn-of-the-century global justice movement in Seattle and elsewhere, and in relation to the twenty-first century’s diverse "movement of the squares"; surrealists with anarchist proclivities have actively participated in their capacity as “specialists in revolt."

Speakers
SK

Samantha Kavky

Pennsylvania State University, Berks
RS

Ron Sakolsky

North American Anarchist Studies Network (NAASN)
HS

Harold Schweizer

Professor of English, Bucknell University

Chairs
avatar for Christina Heflin

Christina Heflin

PhD Candidate, Royal Holloway University of London


Saturday November 3, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Room A. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Great Room Annex (ground floor)

4:00pm

8.B. Affective Mediums
PANEL. Affective Mediums

“Performing Intimacy and Exile: Surrealist Practice in the Work of Joseph Cornell and Yayoi Kusama”
Felicity Gee
University of Exeter

Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama lived in New York between the years of 1957-1975, becoming more famous in America than in her native Japan. She met the shy and reclusive Joseph Cornell at his home, Utopia Parkway, Nyack, in 1962, and the two remained in correspondence, and sometimes collaboration, until his death in 1972. Seemingly unlikely partners, the pair nevertheless had much in common: from their peripheral and direct engagement with surrealism and surrealists, to their acute psychological and social difficulties, and an alternatively micro/macro artistic practice. This paper will discuss what I call the exilic état d’attente that brings these artists together Both Kusama and Cornell travel to escape their homes – actually and virtually – through the imaginary, and performative. Their ‘outsider/insider’ status is paramount to a wider understanding of transnational surrealism during this period. While Cornell was famously inspired by the collage work of Max Ernst, and exhibited in a number of the early Surrealist exhibitions in New York, Dawn Ades argues that he was not creating ‘in the wake of […] the development of the object within the Surrealist movement, but ‘simultaneously’. For her part, Kusama bridges Eastern and Western painting of the twentieth century, pushing against the boundaries of Nihonga and collapsing the distinction between body and universe, mind and world in a hallucinatory, female, surrealistic dynamism. The affective collaboration between these two artists, and their relationship to surrealism (and each other) has been little explored in scholarly work, a lacuna that this paper seeks to address.

“La Boxe contre l’ombre: Claude Cahun at Ringside”
Austin Hancock
Princeton University

Over the past thirty years, a resurgence of interest in the photography and writing of Claude Cahun has transported this once forgotten surrealist from a position of self-imposed exile on the island of Jersey to the fore of queer and feminist theory alike. Indeed, operating both literally and figuratively on the outskirts of France and of the central Surrealist group in Paris, part of the appeal of Cahun’s work is no doubt her unequivocal and oftentimes confrontational reclamation of her own marginalized position. This confrontational stance is on full display in a series of Cahun’s most famous photographs in which she dons a pair of boxing shorts and sneers into the camera, the words “DON’T KISS ME I AM IN TRAINING” written across her chest, and, taking these portraits as a point of departure, my presentation traces Cahun’s appropriation of this pugilistic persona through her writing and back to an oft-forgotten short story from her youth entitled “Boxe.” Through a close analysis of this text, we discover how, by stepping into the exclusively virile space of the boxing ring, Cahun manages to subvert the macho rules which define the sport and score a knock-out blow for the marginalized in the very arena where paternal order reigns supreme. Moreover, this entry into the ring then invites comparisons to Cahun’s later participation in the surrealist group which, while it did not share the misogynist logic of the boxing ring, was nonetheless a predominantly male circle.

Speakers
avatar for Felicity Gee

Felicity Gee

University of Exeter
AH

Austin Hancock

Princeton University

Chairs
avatar for Jonathan Wallis

Jonathan Wallis

Associate Professor of Art History and Curatorial Studies, Moore College of Art & Design


Saturday November 3, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Room B. Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Humanities Lab (lower level)

4:00pm

8.C. Exhibition and Thingification
PANEL. Exhibition and Thingification

“The Surrealist Agency of Things: Reversing the Subject-Object Hierarchy in the 1948 Oceanic Arts Exhibition”
Christina Rudosky
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

In Prolégomènes à un troisième manifeste du surréalisme ou non (1942), André Breton categorically rejects the idea of a telos in rationalist thinking and opposes the epistemological premises of an anthropocentric world. Breton calls for the surrealist troubling of the normative and hegemonic structure of human over animal, science over myth, and states that: “Man is perhaps not the center, the cynosure of our universe […] we should let ourselves think that above him, exists a whole scale of animal beings, those beings whose behavior is just as strange as his can be to the mayfly or the whale.” Suggesting an apprehension of the world which favors the experience of animals, unseen spirits and by extension, objects, over the human, suggests a reversal of subject-object hierarchy —a Bretonian leitmotif that is key to understanding the surrealist collection and writing of ethnographic objects in the ‘40s and ‘50s. Engaging with the field of new materialism and Thing Theory which echoes this surrealist interest in “things,” my paper will focus on reading the reversal of this hierarchy in Breton’s “xénophiles” poems and preface to the catalogue of the 1948 Oceanic Arts exhibition as a surrealist rejection of the colonial and ethnographic logos of the time.

“Ironic Imitators of Imperialism: On the Surrealist Counterexhibition ‘La vérité sur les colonies’”
Renée Volkers
Utrecht University

The relationship between surrealism and colonialism is problematic and often contradictory. The Surrealists are often treated as “primitivists”, in the sense that their attitude towards non-Western subjects is related to colonial imperialism, despite their distinct anti-colonialism and criticism of Western civilization throughout the movement. In the scholarship on the Surrealist section of the anti-imperialist exhibition ‘La vérité sur les colonies’, Louis Aragon’s deployment of so-called tribal sculpture therein is put forward as especially problematic. Postcolonial theorists have argued, quite convincingly, that by appropriating art for a communist political agenda in this exhibition, Aragon acted within the same paradigms of the ‘International Colonial Exhibition’ (1931) he intended to critique. Though the postcolonial criticism of this exhibition is not unjust, the discipline of postcolonial theory was at the time non-existent. Compared to the discourse of contemporary post-colonial theory, the morality of the surrealist anti-colonialist stance loses its integrity. We should however question the claim of the implicit colonialism in the Surrealists’ counterexhibition. Instead, we might assume that the Surrealist model of the exhibition was well thought out, for it seems that Aragon was well aware of the risks of exhibiting and thereby aestheticizing colonial sculpture, as he explains in an essay from 1931. For this reason, I argue that the Surrealists did not reproduce the paradigms of imperialism, but instead, that there are customary surrealist techniques of juxtaposition, irony, and reversal at play, through the employment of which they tried to unmask the imperialist politics of the International Colonial Exhibition.

"Breton vs. Dubuffet: Postwar Surrealism vs. Art Brut"
Kent Minturn
New York University

In 1947, André Breton “discovered” the young Algerian artist Baya, and wrote a laudatory essay for the catalog of her first solo show in November at the Galerie Maeght, in Paris. Five months prior to this Jean Dubuffet embarked on the first of three extended trips he would make to North Africa, at precisely the same time he was formulating his ideas on art brut. During his first voyage Dubuffet learned of the art and writings of Gaston Chaissac, a cobbler and self-taught artist of Arab descent living in rural region of Vendée, France. Dubuffet wrote the preface for Chaissac’s first solo show at the Arc-en-ciel gallery in Paris (June 11 to July 5, 1947). On May 28, 1948, Dubuffet, just back from his second trip to North Africa, wrote a letter to Breton and invited him to to become a founding member of the Company of Art Brut. Breton accepted, but relations between Dubuffet and the father of surrealism eventually soured, and in 1950 Dubuffet disbanded the Company after a dispute with Breton over the definition of art brut. Breton saw art brut as a continuation of surrealism, and by extension, l’art des fous; Dubuffet demurred. Also, by this time, as he explained in his essay, “In Honor of Savage Vales,” Dubuffet believed that the drive to create art brut “is more passionate in Occidental Man than in any other race, and, in other words, these 'savage values' to which I attribute more value than all others, appear to show themselves, in our worlds of Europe and America, more forcefully and tempestuously than in any other worlds.” After disbanding the Company, Dubuffet packed up the art brut collection and shipped it to America, where it was housed in artist Alfonso Ossorio’s mansion on Long Island for the following decade. I propose an in-depth analysis of this important postwar moment when Breton was in the process of expanding the geographical boundaries of surrealism and searching internationally for new examples of the “marvelous” in art (shortly before discovering Baya, he traveled to Haiti with Wifredo Lam and began collecting the work of Hector Hyppolite), vis-à-vis Dubuffet’s concomitant but opposing efforts to act as the limiting gatekeeper of his art brut collection, and consider only those artists working in Europe and North America.

Speakers
KM

Kent Minturn

New York University
avatar for Christina Rudosky

Christina Rudosky

University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
avatar for Renée Volkers

Renée Volkers

Graduate student, Art History, Utrecht University

Chairs
KS

Kristen Strange

Arizona State University


Saturday November 3, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Room C. Vaughan Literature: Willard Smith Library (ground floor)

4:00pm

8.D. Leonora Carrington
PANEL. Leonora Carrington

“Cauldrons and Curanderas: The Magical Collaborations of Remedios Varo and Leonora Carrington”
Susan L. Aberth
Bard College
Tere Arcq

Independent Curator
Arriving in Mexico City in the 1940s as émigrés from war-torn Europe, the Spanish artist Remedios Varo and the British artist Leonora Carrington formed a close friendship that lasted until the former’s untimely death in 1963. Together they explored the magical traditions of multiple cultures in order to fuel their creative vision of female-centric spiritual practices. Mixing the esoteric traditions of Europe, such as Alchemy, astrology, and the Tarot, with various indigenous Mexican healing and visionary practices, they formed a singular visual language that upended misogynist hierarchies and placed the mysterious forces of nature at the center of their art production. In addition they also threw into the mix the teachings of Gurdjieff, Spiritualism, Tibetan Buddhism and the Kabala in order to distill a potent multivalent global symbolic system. The speakers, who are in the process of forming an exhibition and book to celebrate their remarkable partnership, will explore the powerful collaboration between these surrealist women artists. In an attempt to mirror the spirit of this alliance, they will take into account their own teamwork during the research, writing and curating in order to better understand the magical underpinnings of this historic and unique collaboration that is of such fascination to audiences of today.

"Alchemy, Metamorphosis, and Sign Transformation: Iconoclash in Leonora Carrington’s Works on Wood, Wool, Silk, and Vellum"
Kendall DeBoer
University of Rochester

Bruno Latour defines iconoclash as “when one does not know […] whether [an action] is destructive or constructive”; he provides this neologism in contrast to iconoclasm’s apparent “project of destruction” as part of his larger argument for the inextricability of image-making and image-breaking. 1 Latour’s term for simultaneous destruction and construction provides an apt methodological tool for analyzing Leonora Carrington’s mature works. Carrington’s 1960s and 70s material supports—wood, wool, silk, and vellum—animate her objects with long traditions of artisanship and craft history. The materials come from living beings: trees, sheep, cocoons, and calves. Carrington’s specific intellectual concern with alchemical transformation of matter suggests that her plant- and animal-sourced materials are significant. Latourian iconoclash operates on at least three levels in these works. Carrington’s selection of life-imbued materials for her supports is the first iconoclash. To create her supports, trees are cut down, sheep are shorn, silk worm cocoons are dissolved in boiling water, and skin is cut from calves. The second iconoclash occurs in Carrington’s pictorial content, rife with transmutations, metamorphoses, and hybrid entities. A third relationship to historic iconoclasm emerges in the rich relationship her works share, both materially and pictorially, with Byzantine objects. Carrington’s late works demonstrate that though her radical appeal as a woman surrealist may qualify her as an iconoclast, her art objects already exist in an entangled web of highly suggestive materials and images, in which destruction and construction occur at once.

"Leonora Carrington and her Moving Images"
Lea Petrikova
Film and TV School of Academy of Performing Arts, Prague

Although the surrealist artist Leonora Carrington did not utilize the most recent mediums - film and video – as a means of artistic expression, her work and personality affected the audiovisual field in some way. This paper attempts to explore this influence and broaden the understanding of Carrington's work.  The relationship Carrington had to moving images is described as follows: the intermediality of Carrington's work, Carrington and Alejandro Jodorowsky, and Carrington´s production design. This paper takes an interdisciplinary approach to the artist. Carrington is introduced not just as a painter and writer, but primarily as a versatile artist transcending categories of expression. Using the a theory of migrating symbolism, the artist's work is examined in the context of the movement between medial forms.

Speakers
avatar for Susan Aberth

Susan Aberth

Associate Professor, Bard College
TA

Tere Arcq

Independent Curator
avatar for Kendall DeBoer

Kendall DeBoer

University of Rochester
avatar for Lea Petrikova

Lea Petrikova

Academy of Performing Arts, Prague

Chairs
AB

Ashley Busby

Susquehanna University


Saturday November 3, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Room D. Bertrand Library: Traditional Reading Room (second floor)

4:00pm

8.E. Contemporary Legacies of Surrealism (2 of 2) -- Roundtable
ROUNDTABLE. Contemporary Legacies of Surrealism (2 of 2)

Part 2 of a double session which brings together several experts to explore and discuss legacies and contemporary practice of surrealism. The presence of surrealism in contemporary art, be it as heritage, source of inspiration, practice, or otherwise, is not uncontested. By first offering four case studies, the panel will form a solid basis for a subsequent extended discussion of the issue of surrealism in the contemporary. The panel speakers are practicing artists and academic specialists; they will not only bring a range of experiences and expertise to the table but will also be able to reflect on the issue of contemporary (legacies of) surrealism from an art making-standpoint.

This roundtable explores contemporary legacies and practices of surrealism. Points of discussion will include: contemporary surrealism within the global; contemporary practice vs. legacies and heritage; benefits and pitfalls of periodization models of surrealism; the position (or not) of “canonical” historical surrealism (i.e., 1920s-30s Paris) within modern and contemporary surrealism as well as current art criticism and scholarship worldwide.

Tessel Bauduin
Universiteit van Amsterdam


Patricia Allmer
University of Edinburgh


Jesse Bransford
New York University 


Judith Noble
Plymouth College of Art


Dominic Shepherd
Arts University Bournemouth 

Kristoffer Noheden
Stockholm University

Speakers
avatar for Patricia Allmer

Patricia Allmer

University of Edinburgh
avatar for Jesse Bransford

Jesse Bransford

Clinical Associate Professor, Department Chair, New York University, Steinhardt School, Department of Art and Art Professions
Jesse Bransford is a New York-based artist whose work is exhibited internationally at venues including The Carnegie Museum of Art, the UCLA Hammer Museum, PS 1 Contemporary Art Center and the CCA Wattis Museum among others. He holds degrees from the New School for Social Research... Read More →
JN

Judith Noble

head of Academic research, Plymouth College of Art
My areas of research are film (especially the experimental and avant-garde) and occultism and magic. Within that, I have a specific interest in surrealism and the work of Maya Deren. I am joint co-ordinator of the Black Mirror research network (with Dominic Shepherd, Jesse Bransford... Read More →
KN

Kristoffer Noheden

Researcher, Stockholm University
DS

Dominic Shepherd

Arts University Bournemouth

Chairs
avatar for Tessel Bauduin

Tessel Bauduin

Universiteit van Amsterdam


Saturday November 3, 2018 4:00pm - 5:30pm
Room E. Bertrand Library: East Reading Room (second floor)

5:30pm

Break
Saturday November 3, 2018 5:30pm - 6:00pm
Hildreth-Mirza Hall: Great Room (ground floor)

6:30pm

Exhibition, Banquet, and Performance at the Milton Art Bank
Closing Gala at Milton Art Bank with Narcissister and Marquesa Grey!

Come to the Milton Art Bank from 6:30pm – 7:30pm for a private preview of the exhibition SURREALISM, featuring works by Pierre Roy, Francis Picabia, Florine Stettheimer, and others. Then walk a lit path to the Masonic Temple for a private catered dinner at 8pm. Here you will be greeted by your host for the evening, the fabulously incorrigible Marquesa Grey. After dinner you will be treated to an unforgettable performance by the exquisitely titillating Narcissister. Expect the unexpected.


Chairs
avatar for Brice Brown

Brice Brown

Director/Curator, Milton Art Bank
Founded by Brice Brown and housed in a converted 19th century bank in Milton, PA, Milton Art Bank (MAB) is an artist-run experiment and space for creative inquiry. Through exhibitions, performances, and other creative interventions, MAB encourages curious dialogue and engaged participation... Read More →
avatar for Roger Rothman

Roger Rothman

Senior Fellow, Social Justice College
Professor of Art History at Bucknell University. Author of "Tiny Surrealism: Salvador Dali and the Aesthetics of the Small" (Nebraska 2012); co-editor of "Beyond Critique: Contemporary Art in Theory, Practice, and Instruction" (Bloomsbury 2017); currently working on a book on Fluxus... Read More →


Saturday November 3, 2018 6:30pm - 11:30pm
Milton Art Bank 23 S Front St, Milton, PA