DIALOGUE WITH SURREALIST GROUP OF MADRID REGARDING THE ROOM (English translation)
Translated By : Craig wilson
The Arab public does not know much about the activities of the Surrealist Group of Madrid in the last ten years. Can you tell us about the history of the Madrid Group and its activities in recent years?
Madrid: We could summarize this activity in four main lines:
1)-Publications. First, of course, the Salamandra magazine. Surreal Intervention-Insurgent-Critical Imagination of Daily Life, of which, since 2001, 6 double numbers have been published: 11-12, 13-14, 15-16, 17-18, 19-20 and 20-21; the latter issue appeared in 2015. We are currently working on the next edition of a new issue. Secondly, the counter-information newspaper El Rapto. Observatory of contemporary sleepwalking (seven issues, 2007-2011).
And alongside this, the group’s editorial, by La Torre Magnética (The Magnetic Tower), which has published around 20 titles of poetry, essay and criticism; we highlight the two books that gather examples of poetry by some of the members and friends of the group: Indications of Salamandra (2000) and Nailing Limes on Earth: Book of Poems by the Surrealist Group of Madrid and Surroundings (2017).
2) Public interventions and conferences. The most recent: South American Games Day (2015) and The Dreams Laboratory (2017), both held at the Nosaltres Cooperative Athenaeum (Madrid). Jornada Pensar y Experimentar (Think and Experiment Day) in November 2017, at the Bookshop Traficantes de Sueños (Madrid). Beautiful ladies mercilessly doing justice (poetic) to surrealist women (March-April 2019), at the Enclave de Libros bookstore (Madrid). Participation in the JACA Anarchist Art Fair (Okupado Eko Social Center of Madrid), with the construction of a Barracks of Wonder.
3) Political interventions. Talks, debates and exhibitions at the Foundation for the Study of Libertarians and Anarcho-syndicalists in Barcelona. Activities and talks offered at the CNT in Madrid and Valladolid, the Libertarian CAU center in Alicante, the Okupado La Casika de Móstoles Social Center, the Anarchist Social Center 451 in Zaragoza, the Anarchist Book Fairs in Barcelona, Valencia, Seville, Lisbon and Madrid. Active participation in assemblies, rallies, demonstrations and actions of the 15-M “movement” in Madrid (especially in the Sun Camp). Direct and organic participation in Neighborhood Assemblies, Specific Action Groups or Self-Managed Cooperative Athenaeums such as Nosaltres in the Madrid neighborhood of Lavapiés (this activity has been developed, with greater or less intensity, but in a way particularly continued, since May 15, 2011). Organization of the Conferences on the Surrealist Object in the Solar Okupado de Lavapiés in April 2012, collected and contextualized in the book The Goods Die, Things Awaken. Days on the Object When Everything Falls Apart (2013).
4) Theoretical-practical work on certain concepts that we consider relevant. Of great importance we find the work on the concept of externality, substantiated in two collective books: Crisis of Exteriority. Criticism of Industrial Confinement and Praise of the Suburbs (2012) and Think, Experience Exteriority (2018). Another term that we think is important, and which is still in the process of reflection, that of poetic materialism, widely developed in the then-to-be last issue of Salamandra 21-22 (2015). Likewise, the concept of poetic geography and its expression gave rise to the book Feel Madrid As If There Was A Whole, by Emilio Santiago, published by La Torre Magnetica in 2016, which is also considered as a criticism and a review of modern urbanism. Another concept that we have worked on a lot, poetry by other means (created by the surrealist group of Chicago, is not ours), also gave rise to a collective book Situation of poetry (by other means) in the light of surrealism (2006). Apart from publications, the group has tried to implement these concepts in different ways over the years.
What is your opinion on the new surreal Arabic-language magazine The Room, which is the first surrealist Arabic-language magazine published in the Middle East since the 1930s?
We find it great news for international surrealism that a surrealist magazine breaks into this geographical, cultural and political sphere that has already given examples of surrealist intervention as original and convulsive as Art and Liberty and Le Désir Libertaire, of which we want to publish a selection of your texts in the near future. The extract of content that we have been able to access is extremely attractive to us and we connect with it, especially as regards specifically (because they are matters in which we work assiduously) the work of collective creation, the draft “surreal civilization” (a crucial issue for us in this particular historical moment), to surreal games, “surreal town hall” and surreal urbanism.
How do you deal with those who say surrealism is a corpse we’re trying to revive from the past?
This reproach is, in fact, prevalent in the circles of so-called “art” and almost total in the circles we can call politicians. Both start from the mistake of considering surrealism exclusively as an “artistic vanguard” and of ignoring the true nature and purpose of surrealism: a complex movement that encompasses all facets of human existence and whose objective is to change life. This kind of criticism systematically ignores the revolutionary political content of surrealism and aims to leave it in mere old-fashioned aesthetic adornment, to defuse its explosive charge. It is equally paradoxical that this reproach comes from sectors of modern art, which for decades agonizes in repetitions of itself and is already a gigantic corpse embalmed in million-dollar bank accounts. This would be an obvious case of projection, in the strictly Freudian sense. And of course, if surrealism is ever to be a corpse, it will be a beautiful exquisite corpse, that is, a collective re-announcement, incalculably drunken, of himself and what is not himself.
In the opinion of the surrealist group of Madrid, what are the barriers to the organization (establishment) of an international exhibition of surrealism in modern times that brings together all the surrealist groups active around the world?
In issue 11-12 of Salamandra magazine (2002) our group published the collective text The False Mirror. There we made a critique that we still believe about the recuperation of surrealism by capitalism and its society of spectacle, and about the vulgarization and repetition of surrealist imagery, as well as resuming the idea of radical opposition to art – understood as the construction of the capitalist industry and as a separate sphere of life— which characterizes surrealism from its origin. This criticism, coupled with the irrepressible fact that any exhibition at the moment will be considered “art” and will enter within the monetary circuit of modern art, makes us unlikely to be inclined to such initiatives.
However, almost 18 years have passed since that text, and today we consider that a large exhibition developed jointly and internationally by surrealist groups could be an event to be taken into account, at least as a hypothesis to be discussed that could enhance substantial internationalism of surrealism throughout its history. However, this exhibition should be presented, in our view, under certain conditions: to be accompanied by days of discussion in which issues of great importance for surrealism (the critique of domination in all its political dimension) are discussed, economic, technical, ecological, ideological, psychological or sensitive, the problems of imagination and creative subjectivity, the “collectivization of genius”, automatism, language, nature, etc., avoid at all costs all profit and seek, essentially, an irradiation of the ideas and practices of surrealism beyond its own limits. We believe that this type of international exhibition could thus be very enriching and would also serve to reinforce the personal links, common activity and dynamics of the different surrealist groups scattered around the world, and today more dispersed than ever.