Surrealist ENQUIRY RESPONSES

ENQUIRY RESPONSES / picular mormyrid

Nikos Stabakis; Allan Graubard; Mary Jacob; Gregg Simpson; Mattias Forshage; Paul Hammond; Ody Saban; Bruno Montpied; Max Cafard; Peculiar Mormyrid ; Régis Gayraud ; Rikki Ducornet; Ron Sakolsky; Joël Gayraud; Alain Joubert ; Pnina Granirer; Rik Lina; Laurens Vancrevel; Laura Winton ; François-René Simon ; François Leperlier; Peter Marvelis; Penelope Rosemont; Bruno Jacobs; John Adams; Michel Remy; Michael Löwy ; Peter Dubé; Guy Girard; David Nadeau; Claude-Lucien Cauët; Beatriz Hausner; Stephen J. Clark; Bertrand Schmitt; Karl Howeth; Brandon Jay Freels; Craig S. Wilson; Frances Del Valle; Jean-Michel Goutier; David Coulter; Kathleen Fox; Joseph Jablonski; Alex Januário; Johannes Bergmark; Janice Hathaway, Davey Williams, Pierre petiot

(in order of submission)

NIKOS STABAKIS:

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

I situate myself within living surrealism; one’s historical placement is a historian’s task, which actually presupposes surrealism’s end and the perspective gained thereby, a possibility that is certainly existent if subject to a number of further (interesting) presuppositions.

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

The fact that miserabilism’s reign, the urgent denouncement of imaginary desire and highlighting of ‘reality’ on the part of dominant political figures, structures and institutions, and the abuse of the word ‘surrealism’ both in its correct and in its vulgar sense to denote the impossible/implausible/irresponsible nature of any alternative notion prove how right surrealism has been all along.

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

More than ever, at a time of general disintegration; provided that intelligent discourse within surrealism may also accept, however critically, the existence of, and attempt to sustain a dialogue with, individual cases with surrealist potential that, for whatever reasons, exist outside the current network of groups.

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ALLAN GRAUBARD:

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

The “history of surrealism” is quite a monolithic term with a great deal of cultural baggage tied to it. As much as it is an historical entity, though, Surrealism lives or dies by virtue of its charge and resonance in the here and now. This can happen in any number of ways, including by jettisoning the term as a matter of self or collective identity while valorizing the rebellious and poetic spirit that helped to form and informs surrealism. To me, the signifying medium is more essential and vivacious than the thing signified, which we know or believe we know all too well. 

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

I cannot answer that question. I can only respond with another question: What makes the world in which we live relevant to me? 

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

A surrealist group is not an idea but an active ensemble in motion.Ideas are common; anyone can have them. Surrealist groups are not common, and they certainly don’t think themselves into existence. 

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MARY JACOB:

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

Like the angel in Arcanum XVII, I have one knee on earth and one foot in water, grounded yet with surrealism lapping around my ankle. I play with words, pouring out and collecting from the same source. I’m investigating whether this makes me a surrealist poet. I view surrealism as subversion, of expectations and more.

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

Crisis. 

Trexit, climate chaos.

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

We need community now more than ever, whether labelled as surrealism or swordfish. We need to listen to underwater voices. Surrealist games and collaborations serve as amplifiers – we hear better together. Currents that connect us include the Gulf stream and ionic surges. We needn’t stand on the same plot of land to join hands. 

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GREGG SIMPSON, 21/12/2016

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

I am very grateful for the support given to me by the most important scholars of Surrealism starting with a letter of introduction from William Rubin of MOMA, followed by inclusion in academic studies and a major book by the late José Pierre. Many other publications and university studies have also given me a place in the chronicles of contemporary Surrealism including those by Eduard Jaguer, Sarane Alexandrian, Miguel Corrales and Arturo Schwartz. 

In the context of Canadian Surrealist art, the touring show organized by Queens University in 1979, had the title, Other Realities, and, more importantly, it was sub titled: The Legacy of Surrealism in Canadian Art. I feel that was an accurate description of how Canadian surrealist artist must define their relation to Surrealism, coming from a country where at the time the movement was born in 1924, Canada had barely acknowledged post-Impressionism.

 In 1973 this changed when I took an exhibition I had conceived entitled Canadian West Coast Hermetics: The Metaphysical Landscape to Paris, Brittany, Belgium and the UK. This exhibition was seen by José Pierre, which led him and others in the Paris Group to realize that the influence of their movement had reached half way around the world to us here on the west coast.

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

The world in which we live means one thing in the west and another in some other, less fortunate places. However, Breton’s basic mission was to usher in a transformation of humanity through the emancipation of the unconscious. This is something which knows no national boundaries, yet will manifest differently in every culture. 

There has been a massive adoption of surrealism in the Latin cultures: Spain, Portugal, Chile, Brazil and others seem to value the worlds of magic that Surrealism is heir to. Likewise the Celtic cultures, in Wales and Brittany especially, have a natural affinity to Surrealism through evocations of fairy lore, myth and symbolism. As a Canadian, of Scottish descent, I am a blend of many of these cultural influences.

Living in the digital age, the maxim of which is a perfect synchronicity of 1’s and 2’s, we live in a world in which nothing is left to chance. But the upside is that there may be a huge pool, a reservoir of chance, left unused and neglected. It may be the perfect time for Surrealism to commandeer this lake of possibilities.

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

I once was told by Edouard Jaguer of the Paris-based PHASES, that it was conceived as a movement, not a group. The politics of groups can get unwieldly. But there are many international groups still active, despite the insistence of most art historians that it all ended when the Abstract Expressionists took over in the late ‘40’s. 

Only a few enlightened curators and historians of today respect the activity of contemporary Surrealist art. They only give credence to historical Surrealism, and then mainly use it to score ideological points against those in the original movement. It reminds me of a quote by the English curator who when asked about spirituality in art replied that she “found the use of the word spiritual and art in the same sentence indescribably embarrassing”.

Surrealist groups, in their collective activities, fly in the face of these sceptics and continue to fight for the primacy of the poetic imagination over the sceptical materialism of those who have assured the non-acceptance of today’s surrealist art in major museums. When the Vancouver Art Gallery did a show of Surrealists a few years ago, there was no mention of the five decade long activities of the West Coast Surrealist Group. It’s a curator’s game now, the artists are no longer needed. We are indescribably embarrassing to them.

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MATTIAS FORSHAGE:

It is a relief that you pretty clearly state your intentions with your enquiry, but I am afraid it may perhaps still cause confusion, at least I feel a bit confused myself, with recurring tiny sparks of inclination to treat it as a surrealist enquiry of the well-established kind (where the tendencies, the diversity, the scattered constructive suggestions, and the symptomatic aspects are all integral part of the theoretical effort and will all be presented together as a sign of collectivised thinking which is at heart of surrealism (in this case usually modestly collectivised and some may be more comfortable with the term ”distributed”) and redistributed to participants… In fact, proper surrealist enquiries too can be very general, rather boring, and use the common journalist strategy of ”tactical ignorance” as demonstrated by the rather recent Paris enquiries whether surrealists still believe in freedom, love and poetry…) rather than of the genre academic enquiry (where an enquiry is a shallow interview which numerous informants are subjected to, for answers to be publicly non-revealed and only processed by the researcher and sketchily/summarisingly accounted for in essayistic or statistic form with or without a small number of direct quotes).

 There is probably very little incitement to make a considerable effort for an enquiry of the latter kind, except in the spontaneous wish to forget and treat it as an enquiry of the former kind, and then get disappointed in the end… Yet it would seem unfruitful to revert to conspiratory suspicions that it would be read as merely a desperate call for any arguments for the contemporary relevance of surrealism if you have to struggle hard to come up with them of your own, or a poll if it isn’t high time to abandon the surrealist group once and for all… 

 OK, OK, I’ll get on with it, trying to keep in mind not to give it too much of an effort, just the improvised musings of one morning. Thus, I will not give it the time to edit it down to requested briefness… Since it happens to be all encircling a general area which I have been thinking seriously about and writing about together with friends and on my own for decades and more specifically and consistently the past ten years, it is impossible not to become a bit verbose, straggly, a bit too general, or to miss important points just as temporary memory lapses. The basics are all in ”Voices of the Hell Choir” 2006, ”Labors of Existence” 2007, ”Surrealism’s Phoenix Act in the 60s” 2010, ”The Surrealist Group as an Individual and an Organisation, again” 2011, ”A slippery mirror in a rainforest – the framework of the integrity of surrealism” 2013, and in that sense I am mainly repeating myself, again, yes, but I am not going to apologise, you brought it on yourselves.

1. The history of surrealism has a linear aspect, according to which I am a part of the continuation of surrealism and irrevocably ”to the right” (if time’s arrow points right…) of a certain number of breaks and irrevocable events (including, for some purposes, being specifically in a ”postbretonian phase” which has not changed the essence of surrealism but sees it facing a particular set of conditions) – but the history of surrealism also has an aspect which breaks up the linear narration and creates a ”timeless” feast not in the Schuster sense of being ahistoric but rather in the sense of a pooling of resources with everybody else whose experiences have been integrated into the history of the movement. With a ”modern” analogy, I could suggest that selling one’s soul to surrealism means that it becomes available in a certain profound sense to ”download” the experiences and situations of other surrealists in other countries and other times. (Of course, if such a disclaimer is necessary, these experiences themselves are of course rooted in their historical situation, and the very act of the history of surrealism making them available is a product of the surrealist movement creating, highlighting, and delineating this history of surrealism…)

 Being in a surrealist activity, I am in the middle of surrealism, at the same time as I specifically am at its periphery both geographically (in far northern europe) and in terms of linear time (if we only count the past and not the future). Indeed, as in a growing plant, the periphery is the center in a particular, substantial way. Yet the sense of being at the center is I think a simple objective fact which does not, and must not, exclude a certain modesty… Consciousness of history is crucial, and the works and examples of the pioneers seem unendingly inspiring, and curiosity towards the diversity of manifestations is crucial too. We are all just struggling to make relevant contributions. Parts of surrealism’s experience is more or less accessible to everyone these days, but surrealism is represented in the contemporary world only by the sum of the activities of those who embody it. Whither now?

2. All of surrealism’s original and acquired basic aims essentially remain unsatisfied and valid, and it seems to me like the burden of proof here would lie on anyone claiming that surrealism has become obsolete to convincingly demonstrate those fundamental changes in the world that would motivate this. Of course, changes in society seem to necessitate a certain change in emphases and strategies, and may even necessitate the admittance – after careful examination – that some urges and some battlefields of the past were largely irrelevant, uninformed, naive or misled. Civilisation might seem less boring but more suffocating than it did almost a century ago, while capitalism meanwhile underwent a certain humanisation but has now largely retained its more barbaric guise, and contrary to early hopes these twin frameworks proved capable of absorbing a massive flood of open expressions of male sexuality, atheism and blasphemy, individual desires, intoxication, black humour, pornography, popular fantasy, and more or less innovative surprises and juxtapositions. 

 But still – the poetic phenomenon as such, and the exploration of it, experimentation with it, inspiration from it, propagation of it, liberation of it, via imagination, games, collectivity, defiance, dreams, absolute divergence, moral, insurrection, interpretation, objective chance, disorder of the senses, solidarity, etc, or if you will as the available tangent point where the unknown is invited through play, imagination and sensibility to challenge everything from the tiniest habits over the social order to the sense of existence – remains a top priority… (all attempts to summarise aims or core of surrealism in a formulaic way tend to end up a bit beside the point and look ridiculous, I know, this is only for the sake of the argument here and should not be cited as serious attempts at definition…).

 A point that may be singled out as maybe having a particular urgency and a particular critical function in this very situation, in the face of the massive current tendency for everyday life to be presented in public and for all deeds and works to be counted in careeristic terms as cv items and/or in advertising terms as name exposure – would be, I think, surrealism’s basic tendency to 1) collectivity, group life, ego-dissolving, collectivised thinking, and 2) anonymity, a certain secrecy, celebrating the anonymous genius of poetry and chance, deep suspiciousness towards the public sphere, and 3) worthlessness, non-utility, ludic mentality, suspiciousness towards capitalising (three points which indeed float together and all mainly concern a preference for the unknown before available extrinsic reward systems of the current social order).

3. Yes. All of surrealism’s basic components are in one way or another still valid, and it seems to me like the burden of proof here would lie on anyone claiming that the surrealist group has become obsolete as the basic form of surrealist activity, to convincingly demonstrate any particular intrinsic failure of surrealist collective activity (as opposed to other aspects of surrealism), or any fundamental change in the world, or any fundamental change in surrealism, that would motivate this.

 I think that the surrealist group has become not less but perhaps even more urgent, in general and for surrealism, as a kind of ”antidote” to contemporary careerism, name marketing and exhibitionism, mindless ”liking” and other social media shallowness, loner internet forum trolling, widespread pessimism under massive pressure for compromise with civil demands, etc… And simultaneously, it retains its basic function as a vehicle for organising explorations of the unknown, inventing games, collectivising thought, sidestepping the ego, and radicalising everyday life. 

 Collectivity is a basic tenet of surrealism and all attempts to subtract collectivity should be regarded with deep suspiciousness as potential attempts to undermine surrealism’s core and capitalise on it for purposes alien to it (but again, if disclaimers are necessary, please note that of course various efforts to establish surrealist activity on the individual level rather than the collective are not necessarily automatically attempts to actually subtract collectivity…) The surrealist group is the traditional and paradigmatic form of surrealist activity, not the obligatory one, and of course circumstances and curiosity will spark exploration of ways of implementing surrealist collectivity outside the traditional group form as well.

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PAUL HAMMOND:

1 As an orphan 

2 To function as its mythic negation 

3 Only if it transcends the compulsion to repeat

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ODY SABAN :

1. Comment vous situeriez-vous par rapport à l’histoire du surréalisme?

A partir du début 1990, j’ai fait partie du Groupe de Paris du Mouvement Surréaliste d’André Breton, du temps de Vincent Bounoure qui avait continué le Groupe. Après le décès de Bounoure, lentement je me suis éloignée du Groupe qui avait pris une dérive de chute et je suis allée plus vers le Mouvement Surréaliste internationale et je continue à voir des surréalistes. 

Je continue à créer avec le surréaliste Thomas Mordant les œuvres de MordySabbath.

2. Qu’est-ce qui rend le surréalisme pertinent pour le monde dans lequel nous vivons maintenant?

La révolution.

3. L’idée d’un groupe surréaliste est-elle encore viable?

Oui, absolument, à condition qu’il n’y ait pas des intérêts personnels. Malheureusement il y en a beaucoup d’individus qui utilisent et justifient leur existence- œuvre, que dans le groupe. C’est ce qui s’est passé à Paris et le Groupe de Paris est tombé.

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BRUNO MONTPIED, 28 décembre 2016:

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism? (Comment vous situeriez-vous par rapport à l’histoire du surréalisme?)

Le surréalisme, en la personne surtout d’André Breton, a compté énormément dans ma formation intellectuelle et dans mon désir d’aller vers une pratique expressive capable de m’aider à enchanter ma vie et celle des autres, une pratique utilisant les moyens de l’art sans mener nécessairement à une réussite sociale dans ces domaines. Je ne visais pas à devenir un « artiste », je souhaitais surtout aider au déchaînement tous azimuts de la poésie vécue, et notamment dans des milieux sociaux n’ayant pas souvent accès à l’art ou à la poésie. Il me semblait que le surréalisme poussait au transvasement de la poésie et de l’art dans la vie réelle. Les jeux, les cadavres exquis, les récits de rêves, les essais de simulation des états de folie que Breton et Eluard souhaitaient domestiquer pour les proposer à tout un chacun (cf. L’Immaculée Conception), l’éloge de la poésie naturelle, la reconnaissance par eux de la poésie errante dans les milieux populaires (bien avant que Dubuffet invente l’art brut, le surréaliste Jacques Brunius, par exemple, a rendu hommage à la créativité primesautière des autodidactes dans son film de 1939, Violons d’Ingres; je me sens comme un héritier de Brunius dans ce domaine), ou encore la dénonciation de l’arrivisme artistique, tout cela est la preuve que le surréalisme cherchait avant tout la réalisation de l’art dans la vie quotidienne. Des avant-gardes qui sont apparues après la deuxième guerre mondiale (Cobra, l’Internationale situationniste) ont poursuivi dans cette voie. La révélation de l’art brut, en France et dans le monde, a également milité en ce sens, révélant qu’il y avait une pulsion créatrice en chaque homme, se jouant des classifications et des formatages éducatifs.

    Cependant, j’ai également jugé que le mouvement surréaliste, après Breton, avait accouché d’une myriade de groupuscules tentant de poursuivre la quête sans révéler de grands talents pouvant s’égaler aux poètes et participants du mouvement surréaliste historique. Et qu’un certain ésotérisme, un maniérisme esthète dans les formes artistiques se réclamant du surréalisme, s’étaient répandus dans les productions de ces groupuscules, ésotérisme auquel, par goût et par conviction, je me sens étranger. J’estime que ces tendances coupent la quête de ces groupes, se revendiquant de l’étiquette surréaliste, de la population des non initiés en manifestant (volontairement ou involontairement ?) un désagréable élitisme qui a pour effet d’empêcher la compréhension du projet surréaliste par le grand public. J’ai préféré rester de ce fait un « ami du surréalisme », un sympathisant, plutôt que l’adhérent d’un groupe constitué, notamment auprès du « Groupe de Paris du mouvement surréaliste ». J’ai participé à la revue éditée par ce groupe, dans tous ses numéros, pour l’ouvrir à des formes d’expression surréalistes inconscientes (que l’on rencontre dans les arts spontanés, dits parfois « singuliers » en France, ou « outsiders » dans le monde anglo-saxon). Je préfère, en bref, me déclarer simplement de « culture surréaliste ».

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now? (Qu’est-ce qui rend le surréalisme pertinent pour le monde dans lequel nous vivons maintenant?

    Le surréalisme, au sens littéral du mot, qui postule que la pensée véritable, comprise dans un sens global, liée à une perception totale du vivant, est tenue en bride par l’organisation sociale dominante – le capitalisme mondialisé aujourd’hui –, empêchant l’épanouissement humain, est plus que jamais d’actualité, au moment où les forces de domination et de privilèges continuent d’opprimer les peuples de la planète, en maintenant et creusant les écarts entre les riches et les pauvres. Ces derniers ne doivent pas se mêler de viser à un essor de leurs personnalités. Ils doivent se contenter de travailler, consommer, survivre, végéter. Le surréalisme fait partie des mouvements qui visent à renverser cet état de fait. Sans être inféodé à des partis quelconques.

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable? (L’idée d’un groupe surréaliste est-elle encore viable?)

    L’idée d’un groupe d’action et de pensée imprégnés de culture surréaliste me paraît toujours souhaitable, mais je pense que le mot « surréaliste » doit être plus ou moins occulté et non déclaré dans l’intitulé d’un tel groupe. Le mot est tellement célèbre aujourd’hui, impliquant tant de réactions de la part du monde médiatique, de clichés, de légendes, supposant aussi que les individus qui s’en revendiquent auraient la réputation des grandes vedettes du mouvement du siècle précédent, que cela entraîne inévitablement toutes sortes de malentendus. Comme si on portait un manteau voyant et trop grand dans les plis duquel l’individu qui le porterait se prendrait les pieds…

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MAX CAFARD:

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

As living at the fortunate point in which the history of surrealism merges with world history and surreality overtakes the real. At the promising point at which the wondrous merges with the obvious. At the tragic point at which opiates become the (compulsory) religion of the masses and the obvious melts into general obscurity. At the decisive point at which surrealism must selflessly offer everything it has and does not yet have to the cause of social ecological revolution and the rebirth of the personal, communal and planetary spiritual body.

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

See #1.

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

Both planetary survival and earthly utopia now depend on the birth and rebirth of myriad groups of radical affinity, of countless small communities of liberation and solidarity. These groups will be (and must be) surrealist groups to the extent that they are rooted in radical wonder, radical creativity, radical negation, and radical love for the world. They will affirm and co-create the world of worlds, actual and virtual, of beings, non-beings and becomings, of all regions of being, of surregionality.

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collective response from PECULIAR MORMYRID: 

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

Peculiar Mormyrid was initially formed as a project by some scattered North American, millenials who found themselves drawn to surrealism and the living surrealist movement but whose locations were far from any active surrealist groups “in the flesh”. While not a group in the more traditional sense, as a means to connect with other surrealists and to participate in the movement, it has so far been fairly successful in the admittedly limited capacity of mostly voluntarist and online activities. In a world where authentic human connection is ever more tenuous we take advantage of the means and skills we are familiar with, though not uncritically.

Historically we are not affiliated with any one group or strain of surrealism, though we are constantly trying to absorb as much as we can from previous research and through contemporary connections. Given our linguistic profile we are obviously more marked by the activities of English and French language producing contemporary surrealists (not limited to but including the Chicago, Leeds, the former SLAG, Inner Island, Madrid, Paris and Stockholm groups). We like to think we are a needed reinvigorating force in surrealist movement of today, whether we are short or long lived we think this is a necessary part to play in the cycle. Old groups and generations come and go, new ones take their place, the process continues…

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

Surrealism is relevant in its irrelevance. It does not fit in nicely with any aspect of the contemporary world, and this refusal to adapt is exactly what makes it invaluable. It is an essential force against the horrors of the day, we live at a time when the banal capitalist miserablism is deafening and unrelenting and we must refuse and resist, we must fight back against the colonizers and destroyers of the marvelous and the shrinking human experience.

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

We think the group will always be an important part of surrealist activity, a collective can make more discoveries together than as a bunch of disparate “lone wolf” surrealists. A “more than the sum of its parts” situation. We think surrealists naturally seek out other surrealists to play with. We are social. We suppose the internet gives more voice to non-grouped surrealists than previously. This is great but it is not a replacement, more a kind of parallel and cross-fertilizing trajectory.

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RÉGIS GAYRAUD :

  1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism? (Comment vous situeriez-vous par rapport à l’histoire du surréalisme?)

Je me sens comme un de ces multiples compagnons dont seuls les amateurs éclairés connaissent les noms, de ces gens qui n’ont peut-être pas beaucoup écrit, qui n’ont peut-être pas beaucoup peint, mais qui furent là, à un moment donné, à diriger leur canot monoplace sur le fleuve, et dont la vie a été transformée pour toujours par leur passage bord à bord avec le surréalisme, et dont le remous a forcément modifié, même imperceptiblement, le sens de son sillage.

  1. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now? (Qu’est-ce qui rend le surréalisme pertinent pour le monde dans lequel nous vivons maintenant?)

Il est facile de répondre que notre monde est absolument anti-poétique et nécessite une absolue intransigeance poétique. Ce serait trop court, il convient de développer. Le monde est morbide. La grande rivale de la poésie, la religion nous semblait vaincue. Elle revient sous sa forme la plus maladive, la plus psychotrope, pour parquer les pauvres dans des cellules mentales à titre conservatoire avant leur destruction finale déjà planifiée, alors que la terre, qui exige l’arrêt de la consommation effrénée de ses produits, ne peut plus supporter le partage des richesses avec ces masses d’individus dont il faut bien que ces puissants, s’ils veulent pleinement jouir de leur fortune, se débarrassent une fois reversée aux robots les nécessités de la production des biens nécessaires pour assouvir leur désir sans cesse croissant de jouissances. L’abrutissement dirigé vers la jeunesse atteint désormais l’exactitude d’une science. Eros, le plus redoutable opposant de ce monde, est particulièrement visé. Car elles sont le cœur de cible des managers de l’abrutissement, les jeunes femmes sont invitées par des escouades d’écrivaines à s’éloigner de tout ce qui fait la poésie du monde, et surtout à se méfier de l’amour; les jeunes hommes sont sommés d’être au mieux des sportifs, mais plus énergiquement encore, de perdre tout esprit devant des mondes virtuels du plus achevé crétinisme, dans une répétition infinie d’une compulsion maladive qui tend à les renvoyer sans cesse au stade anal du développement libidinal. Les simulacres nous entourent, les robots nous guident. Les transhumains nous guettent. Cette distorsion-là du réel rend chaque jour le surréalisme plus nécessaire. La haine viscérale que ce monde lui voue suffirait seule à indiquer sa pertinence.

  1. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable? (L’idée d’un groupe surréaliste est-elle encore viable?)

L’idée d’un groupe surréaliste – ou des groupes surréalistes – s’impose comme une évidence. La pratique commune des jeux et des enquêtes, la communauté des pratiques poétiques, les expositions de groupe, sont un puissant carburant du surréalisme. S’imposer comme groupe, c’est aussi, bien sûr, offrir asile à tous ceux qui ne renoncent pas; la cohésion est une condition du combat. 

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RIKKI DUCORNET 

I hope it’s ok if I only answer the question about the place of Surrealism now. 

2.

As lunatic dogmatisms threaten to send the Book of Nature and all the rest–from salamanders to stone towers– careening into the cold face of the moon, Surrealism– inclusive, galvanizing, transcendent–continues to dervish at the heart of the world, summoning the boundless possibilities of Eros and the creative imagination. 

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RON SAKOLSKY

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

I would situate myself as an anarcho-surrealist. By which I mean that when I look at/interact with surrealism, it is from an anarchist viewpoint, and when I look at/interact with anarchism, it is from a surrealist viewpoint. To my way of thinking, anarchy and surrealism are the ideal “communicating vessels”. Consequently, it is the intersection between the two that is most conducive to my creative thought and practice.

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now is its unique capacity to illuminate both the authoritarian techno-bureaucratic nightmare and the fervent utopian dream of individual transcendence and social transformation.The inspirational surrealist watchwords of “Change the World/Change Life” still resonate deeply in my consciousness. The battle for Love, Liberty, and Poetry still rages on all fronts in the war on/for the imagination. Each year, as the misrerabilist tentacles of realism continue to proliferate at an increasingly alarming pace, I desire the surrealist poeticization of everyday life more than ever!

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

For me, a surrealist group is best envisioned as having the characteristics of an anarchist affinity group whose cohesion is based on what Fourier called “passional attraction”. When the group’s human chemistry clicks, it can provide a stimulating cross-pollination of ideas and practices. However, such a group is not the only forum for surrealist creativity/research. Such activity can also be undertaken by individuals, whether as autonomous members of a larger group or as independent actors. Under the best of circumstances within groups, the inevitable tensions between the individual and the collective can encourage convivial forms of expression, or, at worst, group activity can degenerate into a clash of internally destructive energies that can in turn lead to the emergence of a formal or informal hierarchy within the group as a remedial measure. In seeking to avoid the latter situation, as well as one which lnitially validates authoritarian group leadership as a stated preference or a de facto state of affairs; I am most attracted to the more freewheeling anarchist idea of a “group of individuals” which bases its creative practice upon the principles of mutual aid and respect.

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JOËL GAYRAUD:

1. À l’égard de l’histoire du surréalisme, je considère qu’elle est toujours en train de se faire et que j’en suis, à ma modeste échelle, l’un des nombreux acteurs. Un tel point de vue implique la reconnaissance d’une dialectique constante entre la contemporanéité de la recherche et de la création d’une part, et tout le passé, considérable et multiforme, de cette histoire d’autre part. Passé qui ne saurait être tenu pour un ensemble clos donné une fois pour toutes et dans lequel il n’y aurait qu’à reconnaître des lignes directrices ou à puiser des références, mais qui se révèle aux yeux de chacun sans cesse porteur de nouvelles découvertes et ouvert à d’éventuelles réévaluations. 

2. Ce qui rend le surréalisme plus actuel que jamais, c’est son inactualité même, le fait qu’il soit le seul égrégore spirituel qui opère la plus ample et cohérente recollection de tout le passé subversif de l’humanité, tant dans le domaine de l’action et de la création que dans celui de la pensée, de la connaissance et du rêve. Et par rêve, j’entends aussi bien le potentiel émancipateur des désirs individuels que celui de la projection utopique, où se dessinent les épures d’un monde meilleur. Aucune groupement politique n’est capable d’opérer sur une aussi large échelle, et l’on sait que le surréalisme se situe d’emblée au-delà de toute politique.

3. L’idée d’un groupe surréaliste me paraît d’autant plus viable que, de fait, il existe de par le monde plusieurs groupes surréalistes qui mènent une activité collective de création, de recherches et de jeux. Cette existence en actes, concrétisée par des œuvres, des expositions, des publications (revues, livres, plaquettes de poésie etc.) suffit à en démontrer la viabilité. Dans le monde passionnellement et spirituellement naufragé dans lequel s’abîme de plus en plus l’humanité, il me paraît de la plus haute importance de maintenir des havres où l’esprit, harassé par le bruit et la fureur médiatiques, puisse faire relâche, et mettre en commun, dans la plus grande liberté, ses pouvoirs sans cesse bafoués par les conditions existantes. Ce sont de tels havres, disséminés dans plusieurs villes et sur plusieurs continents, que le surréalisme, en tant que pratique de groupe, se donne pour tâche de ménager dans les failles et les interstices de la vie aliénée, et de préserver. Cependant, il convient de préciser qu’il serait déplorable d’envisager le groupe comme un ensemble fermé, à l’image d’un parti politique, avec un système d’adhésions formelles. La pratique de l’exclusion, surtout dans les premières années du mouvement, a pu faire penser à un tel fonctionnement, mais en réalité, les limites entre l’extérieur et l’intérieur, entre l’exotérique et l’ésotérique, ont toujours été floues, les frontières poreuses. Pour en finir avec la conception formaliste, implicitement aristotélicienne, du groupe comme ensemble dénombrable d’individus caractérisé par sa différence spécifique, il est préférable de le concevoir comme un pôle d’attraction puisant son énergie dans l’activité de ses participants, à l’amplitude variable et à la présence aléatoire, selon la courbe d’intensité de leurs désirs. Le rayonnement d’un groupe ne dépend pas du nombre de ses membres et encore moins d’une illusoire pureté idéologique, mais d’un vrai plaisir substantiel ressenti par chacun à y prendre part. 

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ALAIN JOUBERT :

1. Je pense ne pas avoir à me situer dans l’histoire du surréalisme : j’en fait partie intégrante! Depuis 1955, et une douzaine d’années passées aux côté d’André Breton au sein du ‘groupe’, je n’ai cessé de mener, soit collectivement (Le Cerceau), soit individuellement (mes livres, mes articles, etc) une activité dans laquelle le surréalisme a toujours été présent, d’une manière ou d’une autre. A ce titre, mon livre Lw Mouvement des surréalistes ou le fin mot de l’histoire analyse en détail tous les éléments ayant mené à l’autodissolution du groupe, à mon initiative, et afin d’éviter un hold up tenté par un certain Schuster, bien décidé a faire du surréalisme ‘sa chose’, en se tenant absolument pas compte du fait que le Mouvement Surréalisme International lui échapperait quoi qu’il arrive ! Cette ‘place’ là, dans l’histoire du surréalisme, personne ne peut me la contester, sauf quelques ennemis momifiés…

2. Concernant le rôle du surréalisme et son adéquation avec le monde actuel, c’est une fois encore mon dernier La Clé est sur la porte (Maurice Nadeau, 2016) qui en développe les multiples raisons d’être. Je tiens à souligner que ce livre est, à ma connaissance, le SEUL, internationalement ou non, qui tente une approche systématique des grands thèmes auxquels le surréalisme est à même de s’attaquer, ici et maintenant ! Aussi bien sur les plans du mythe, de la philosophie, de l’analogie universelle, de l’action politique, et de l’objectif absolu qui est la modification radicale de l’entendement humain, je propose des chemins de recherche que les surréalistes du monde entier feraient bien de regarder de plus près ! Un écho positif a retenti du côté de la Californie puisque Raman Rao a fait traduire en anglais, et publié sous forme de plaquette, mon texte Cards on the table, an address to the Surrealists

3. Quant à la fnction du groupe dans l’activité surréaliste contemporaine, tout un développement est proposé justement dans Cards on the table; là où il existes des groupes, il n’y a aucune raison de leur interdire de fonctionner, mais je ne pense pas que la constitution de nouveaux groupes soit une priorité. En revanche, je compte beaucoup sur la diaspora surréaliste ‘based on that is discontinuous in time and space’. Les moyens de communication soit tels de nos jours (même si personellement je n’en fait pas usage !) qu’il parfaitement imaginable une activité soutenue, appuyée sur un vaste réseau, qui rendrait possible des actions simultanées – par exemple – au plan international, en parfaite complicité hors des groupes !

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PNINA GRANIRER:

  1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

Much like Frida Kahlo, I did not consider myself a surrealist painter per se. However, subconsciously and without thinking about it, elements of surrealism crept into my work over the years. I have used decalcomania spontaneously, loving its effect and the richness it added to the work. Dreamlike images led to fantastic and unrealistic drawings, painting and collages. I would say that I was an artist who has been greatly influenced by Surrealism. 

  1. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

Surrealism is not only relevant to our world; it has become an intrinsic part of it, with the word itself commonly used in everyday language for describing strange and unusual situations. It is essential for the human mind to give free rein to the imagination and freedom of thought that Surrealism expresses so well. Although short lived as a movement and largely ignored in Canada and the US, the principles of Surrealism play an important role in the work of numerous artists all over the world who practice those principles while not necessarily identifying with them. Surrealism has, in fact, penetrated into the subconscious layer of universal culture. 

  1. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

I’m not sure about the viability of a group, since Surrealism is now so diverse and wide-spread that it might be better described as a stream, or a manner of approaching artistic concerns and practices. Rather than just one group, there are various smaller ‘groups’ of Surrealist artists, which is important for the support and connectivity among them.

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RIK LINA – Amsterdam – January 2017

1. I do not see surrealism in connection with history: history is a scholastic invention and will change with every new generation; surrealism was already present in the pre-historic caves and I regard it as outside art and art-history.

2. Surrealism has to do with the discovery of reality (not with realism), and as a painter I try to add to this. Surrealist painting is a vessel for discovery in the cosmic labyrinths of the marvellous.

3. All the efforts of art-historians to lock surrealists into art-groups have failed, but there always have been small groups of friends and fellow-travellers interested in it, and this will continue in future.

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LAURENS VANCREVEL, January 2017

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

I do not feel a relation between my thinking and poetry and the history of surrealism. At a young age, I was carried away by the ideas as formulated by André Breton, Benjamin Péret, Octavio Paz and others, and by the poetry and images of surrealists that together revealed a irresistable universe to me. I still feel the same involvement in that universe, but I do not consider those ideas and creations left-overs of history, but enduring vital inspiration for my own life.

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

I have not the slightest idea if surrealism is relevant to the world, but I am sure it is essential to those who consider themselves surrealists, apart from the time in which they are living. Anyway, that is my experience. It is essential for my way of being in this world, in the hope to be able to contribute a little to its transformation into the domain of freedom for all, and for my way of trying to transform life into a state of more marvel and poetry.

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

It is collective action that is indispensable to the viability of surrealism, not the specific form of a more or less permanent surrealist group. There are other methods as well to achieve the awareness of collective action. Surrealism is a collective movement.

The surrealist group that was animated by André Breton for nearly half a century has been an extraordinary laboratory of collective creation and action; it has deeply marked the very idea of what surrealism means and how it has developed. Comparable groups may be started in the future. But belonging to such a closed group has never been a must for being a true surrealist. Participation in the collective movement of surrealism is.

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LAURA WINTON :

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

I have been interested in Surrealism for about 30 years. I have participated in Surrealist list serves and Facebook groups online for about 20 years. I write surrealist-inspired poetry, I use many Surrealist techniques, and I have studied Surrealism, both historical and current. My current thesis project is dedicated to Surrealism.

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

More than anyone, Guy Debord has been prophetic in his use of spectacle and talking about image culture and its relationship to capitalism. Many scholars and writers have talked about the way that the avant-garde becomes appropriated by capitalism. But you cannot appropriate true, pure imagination, which is what Surrealism was and is all about. Now, more than ever, as the people in power are trying to limit and control imagination by cutting money to the arts and to arts education to create a nation of working drones, we need the imagination to rethink the whole situation that we are in, to create new ways of thinking about our country and our world, and we need Surrealism now more than ever, with its links to the unconscious and its emphasis creativity as a political act.

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

It may be. But I have also been “kicked out” of one Surrealist group for apostasy (having belief in “something larger than ourselves”). This is the kind of control that Breton tried to exert over Surrealism and what led him to be called the “Pope of Surrealism.” This is also the kind of thinking that causes people to leave groups, either voluntarily or involuntarily and its the reason that the Left never advances and the Right does. Make no mistake, Surrealism is as much a political as an artistic group and there has to elements of both for it to be a viable Surrealist group. But we also have to stop with the purges, unless someone says or does something completely anti-thetical to our purpose. That said, there is the impression that Surrealism is an old dead avant-garde with nothing to offer today’s world, which is completely inaccurate. We should definitely have Surrealist groups devoted to art and politics, much like the Surrealist group in Chicago.

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FRANÇOIS-RENÉ SIMON :

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

I am probably the last young man invited by André Breton to join in the surrealist group, and who did it, from 1965 to february 1969. 

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

Nothing. The world is in the hands of its masters, too numerous, too powerful, too dangerous. Just wait the end of the “anthropocene”.

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

There are many surrealistic (≠ surrealist) groups here and there, but the surrealist era is over. Of course, everyone can make rather surrealistic things (in french : faire du surréalisme) here and there. 0 consequence.

as you can see, I am more realist than surrealist, pessimist (it’s very few to say) and full of nostalgia.

If I was couragous, I would not have written for the Encyclopedia, neither answer this enquiry.

Happily, I am not couragous !

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FRANÇOIS LEPERLIER:

Dans les années 1970-1973, j’ai animé, avec Jacky Roulland, un petit groupe surréaliste à Caen (Normandie). – Publication, en 1970 de deux numéros de revue (Distances, 1970). – Participation à International Hallucinex, Cahiers du Soleil Noir n°3 (1970). – Contacts multiples avec de petits collectifs d’inspiration surréaliste et situationniste, en France et à l’étranger. Correspondances et échanges d’informations avec Jean-Michel Goutier, Her de Vries, John Lyle, Guy Ducornet, Franklin Rosemont, Vincent Bounoure et quelques membres du groupe surréaliste parisien qui venait de se disloquer. – Je rédige et fait circuler un texte programmatique – Coup d’envoi (printemps 1971) – qui s’interroge sur le devenir du surréalisme; des extraits commentés par Vincent Bounoure sont publiés dans le Bulletin de liaison surréaliste 3 (juillet 1971).

1972. Rencontre, suivie de relations étroites, avec Nicole Espagnol, Alain Joubert et Georges Sebbag. Puis, dans les années qui suivent : Petr Kral, Jimmy Gladiator, A.Kader El Janabi, Elisa Breton, Jean Benoît, Jorge Camacho, Robert Lagarde, PeterWood, Pierre Peuchmaurd…

1978. publication d’un essai, Contre temps, qui rompt avec toute institutionnalisation du surréalisme (qu’elle soit médiatique ou groupusculaire), tout en mettant en avant une réappropriation hétérodoxe, libre et critique (comme en témoignent la publication, en 1994, d’un bulletin – Le Cerceau – avec, notamment, A.Joubert, N.Espagnol, F.R Simon, P.Peuchmaurd-, ainsi que mes travaux sur Claude Cahun). Mais l’idée d’une refondation d’un groupe surréaliste est parfaitement anachronique (tout comme la revendication affichée du terme « surréalisme »). 

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PETER MARVELIS:

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

A viralrapiddeploymentvehicle.

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

It’s theories, techniques, and tactics may help us navigate in a world where representation and phantasms layer our daily perceptions, turning the unconscious inside out. To cope a wildly chaotic sea of stimuli, surrealism can act as a kind of “psychic tonic” for the age. . 

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

Always. We can accomplish more as a group than as individuals. A like-minded cadre of fellow travelers could bring about a renaissance in everyday life.

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PENELOPE ROSEMONT

Chicago January 8, 2017

1. 1966: Breton and the group of L’Ecart Absolu welcomed me to their table. A fledgling, Mimi Parent gathered me under her wing. Transformative encounter, since then, surrealism, by day, by night, surrealism whenever possible, always, my delight, my prism, my wilderness, my pole star.

2. Its defense of freedom, without compromise, its attack on the God Pestilence, its provocation of creativity…in words, in art, in the social dynamic make surrealism of pre-eminent importance.

3. A surrealist group is the fiery heart of the future.

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BRUNO JACOBS:

Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

(3) The idea of a surrealist group – formal o no – is still highly viable and more then ever even necessary if surrealism is to survive, not to say develop further. A certain recent reluctance within parts of the broad international surrealist community regarding collective involvment and group activity in particular (not to mention international collaboration) is by no means any natural, logical or inherent consequence of the evolution of surrealism, but rather reflects a pressure from the prevailing bourgeois, fundamentally miserabilist ideology and culture enhancing the atomization, fragmentization, superficialization and centrifugial forces typical of this epoch. One plus one remains however much more than three, and so any dynamic of shared experience involving as little as two individuals. In this regard, the question is too tendenciously formulated.

It is not so, as I see it, that any qualitative change from the days of the latest particularly fecond years in the field of surrealism when prominent thinkers such as Vincent Bounoure or Vratislav Effenberger defended its collective aspect and a reevaluation of surrealism following Breton’s death, would motivate such a mistrust. The socio-political developments that we have experienced since those years have only deepened and hailed ego-centered tendencies and, indeed, a whole culture. This only fact clearly motivates opposing attitudes and practices from the side of a revolutionary movement such as surrealism. In this context, it would seem to be more natural for contemporary surrealism to relate itself and its prospects to that period (the late 60’s and 70’s, and also through the 80’s in Czech surrealism), than in the earlier decades, especially before WWII. Neither do the decrease of major theoretical advancements following the ones made during these pivotal years speaks for less collective spirit and collaboration in the surrealist community.

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JOHN ADAMS:

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

Time is an illusion. Imagination is eternal.

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

We still need some “explosions” to go off here and there to ignite the mind, or to kick us in the ass.

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

It is viable but not what it used to be. Then again, playing outdoors is not what it used to be. It serves its purposes to the extent of what you put into it and that similar minds can be attracted to the game.

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MICHEL REMY

1 – From 1973 on I met and knew most of the British surrealists before they died and collected their memories. I joined the Phases movement in the seventies and co-curated quite a few exhibitions with Edouard Jaguer. My place in the history of surrealism is as a fellow traveller, a partner-in-crime, a friend and a vigilant art historian, in that order.
2 – Surrealism is , on account of its permanent state of revolt, the magic freed from the lies which unavoidably result from being in this world. It constitutes the only philosophical, moral and ethical answer to the levelling down and banalization of contemporary thought.
3 – The idea of a surrealist group is not only viable but vital. Sooner or later, that idea will impose itself, however loose its materilization might be, at least to start with. A platform will have to be agreed upon by all those who claim to be heirs to the movement. Our freedom of mind is more than ever at stake.

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MICHAEL LÖWY :

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

     I came late to this history…I joined the Surrealist Group in Paris by invitation of Vincent and Micheline Bounoure, in 1975. I participated in the activities, tracts, games, protests, of the group since then. I had a special interest in international surrealist initiatives, and I helped to promote some of them, such as the answer to Habermas in 1987 (“Hermetic Bird”) or the international surrealist bulletin on the so-called “discovery” of the Americas in 1992. I also helped to write the tracts on the Zapatista uprising, on the Oaxaca Commune, etc. Moreover, I established close contact, through my travelling, with Surrealist groups or individuals in Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Chicago, Madrid, Athens, Prague. 

My main contribution to Surrealist literature is the book Morning Star. Surrealism, Marxism, Anarchism, Situationism, published in Franklin Rosemont’s Series “Surrealist Revolution” in 2007 (also published in French, Spanish, Portuguese, italian, Greek and Turkish).

My research on Ernst Bloch, Walter Benjamin and revolutionary Romanticism has also a direct relation to surrealist ideas. 

I lack the necessary distance to evaluate my “situation in the history of surrealism”. This has been done, in a much better way, by Miguel Perez Corrales in his Caleidoscopio Surrealista…

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

More than ever in modern history, we live as prisoners in the Capitalist Iron Cage so well described by Max Weber. Surrealism is a magical Hammer that may help us to break the bars of this prison and regain our freedom. 

By always siding with the “primitives” and the “wild” against Western (imperial) Civilization, surrealism is more than ever relevant in a world where the resistence of the “savages” is the best hope of putting an end to Western infamy.

Poetry, Magic Art, the Marvellous and Revolutionary Enchantment are surrealist explosive devices hidden at the foundations of the System. We need them today

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

There are, of course, isolated individuals that try to have a poetical or artistical activity inspired by surrealism. But collective activity is a specific trait of the surrealist movement. Without this surrealist “communism of the spirit”, bringing together, by elective affinity, the most diverse individuals, the unique alchemy of surrealism would be lost. It is not only surrealist games, tracts, protests, journals, that are collective; it is the whole dynamic of surrealist activity. Surrealism is a sort of permanent Exquisite Corpse, where the creative imagination of each individual is combined, by chance or by exchange, with others. Better : in a surrealist group personal inventions are fused with one another, as the mercure, the sulphur and other sacred metals in the Athanor. 

Can surrealist groups exist today ? They do ! There has been a collective surrealist activity in Paris, Prague, Chicago, Leeds, Madrid, Stockholm, Sâo Paulo, Santiago de Chile, and elsewhere. Some are recent, others have almost one century of age. Apparenty they are viable…As long as they exist, surrealism won’t be one closed chapter among others in the official art histories, but a burning adventure. 

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PETER DUBÉ

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?



Surrealism is among three or four key influences on my writing practice, but its role in my life goes far beyond that one area; surrealism is in many ways the underpinning of my world view, and thus has political, epistemological and other implications for me. It is a valuable tool, as André Breton wrote, for the “solving of all of life’s principal problems.” That said, as I am not a member of any active surrealist group and would therefore situate myself, in terms of the movement’s history, as an unaffiliated, or independent, participant.


2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?



Given the rise of a neoliberal, globalized capitalism and its attendant constructions of the “social”, surrealism arguably remains more relevant than ever. It is a theory and practice that seeks, once again in Breton’s formulation, to transform the world and change life at once, and its focus on desire, poetry and freedom as key to doing so provides a powerful response to the wave of miserabilism, instrumentalization and alienation flooding the world at the present time. 



3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?


Although contemporary information/communication technologies offer important opportunities for surrealists to collaborate in a variety of ways and across significant distances, face to face contact and immediately shared work remains valuable for surrealist practice in numerous ways. Most notable among those ways is its unique ability to generate an egregore, and consequently the surrealist group remains, and is likely to continue to remain, a viable locus of activity.

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GUY GIRARD

How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

    Je me considère comme surréaliste depuis 1977 et après avoir participé pendant quelques années à des collectifs poétiques en marge du groupe surréaliste de Paris animé par Vincent Bounoure, j’ai en 1990 rejoint celui-ci. Je n’ai donc bien sûr rencontré ni André Breton, ni Dédé Sunbeam. L’ancien café Cyrano, place Blanche, est depuis belle lurette devenu un fast-food mais la Porte Saint-Denis est toujours ouverte au vent salubre qui sépare l’ivraie de l’histoire du bon grain de l’utopie. Aujourd’hui autant qu’hier, avec autant de difficultés et quoique celles-ci soient sévèrement dissemblables, il me semble que l’histoire du surréalisme importe moins que le mythe émancipateur auquel il donne forme et dont le partage (forme renouvelée d’un rêve éveillé collectif) me donne le beau souci de ne pas être tout à fait idiot face à une réalité jour après jour de plus en plus sinistre. 

What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

    Le surréalisme est ce mouvement révolutionnaire pour lequel les ressources de la pensée poétique et les interrogations de la critique radicale peuvent se conjuguer pour élargir l’espace mental et l’appréhension sensible du réel, selon une perspective subversive où soit appelé à se déployer le nouveau mythe émancipateur qui manque tant à notre époque. Le constat de cette carence, qui fut fait il y a longtemps déjà par Breton et ses amis, n’a depuis fait que s’aggraver : nos raisons de désespérer, en aiguisant notre lucidité, nous en attendons aussi qu’elles provoquent ces étincelles de lumière noire qui enflamment les passions rebelles à leur dévoiement par les séductions de la tyrannie marchande. Parce que depuis 1924, le surréalisme développe une dialectique entre ses forces de tradition ( d’une tradition paradoxalement à « à l’état sauvage », c’est-à-dire non religieuse) et de rupture, tant dans le champ de la création et de l’expérimentation poétiques que dans ses interventions dans les domaines sociaux et culturels, il est à même face au temps quantitatif qu’en succession de moments toujours plus éphémères, produit la société capitaliste, de proposer l’expérience d’un temps qualitatif – temps du rêve, temps du merveilleux – où les individus en révolte peuvent reconnaître leur écart absolu.

Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

    Le surréalisme en tant que mouvement organisé, qui dès ses premières années sut acquérir une envergure internationale, s’est développé grâce à la mise en commun parmi l’ensemble de ses membres, de la pensée poétique et de la critique radicale. Même si certains des individus qui s’en réclament préfèrent, hier comme aujourd’hui, pour des raisons d’éloignement géographique ou d’autres plus subjectives, œuvrer de façon solitaire, il est évident que le projet surréaliste ne peut être vivifié que par l’interaction des recherches des uns et des autres dans les domaines qui leurs sont propres avec les travaux menés en commun au sein d’un collectif fonctionnant selon un mode affinitaire. Depuis longtemps, le surréalisme a reconnu l’œuvre de Fourier comme essentielle à sa critique sociale et à son propos de rebâtir les relations humaines sur un échange passionnel. A mille lieues de tout type d’organisation de type autoritaire ou hiérarchique qui fallacieusement a pu se croire autorisé à suppléer, ici ou là, à l’absence de Breton ou de l’image magnétisante qui a pu en être transmise, le surréalisme n’est véritablement en mouvement que si ceux qui se brûlent à sa flamme métamorphique ont la volonté en agissant ensemble, de reconduire non pas un groupe de type familial ou bureaucratique traversé par des relations de pouvoir, mais d’inventer et de réinventer au jour le jour un égrégore. De même que chez Bakounine, la liberté de chacun s’accroit de connaître celle des autres, dans une telle structure, l’imagination individuelle s’augmente de circuler et d’être éprouvée sur un mode collectif qui lui-même ne se veut que l’amorce d’un plus vaste échange avec le possible.

17 janvier 2017 

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DAVID NADEAU, Quebec City:

1. I am the only person associated with the Surrealist Movement in Quebec City since the end of the first activity period of the collective creation workshops associated with La Vertèbre and Rossignol (2007-2009). This in fact marks the emergence and dissolution of a surrealist activity organized in Quebec City. I have participated in various publishing projects, exhibitions, discussions and experiments with Surrealists of very different ages. Within the Movement, I am attached to a rather esoteric conception of Surrealism which seems, as assumed by Jean-Pierre Lassalle, to begin with Antonin Artaud.

2. Within the revolutionary movement, Surrealism is the only organized international movement that deepens and claims the utopian and anarchist desire of a completely different world. It imagines and prepares, an entirely different civilization not only on the economic plane, but on that of morals and the sacred, in which the human mind can flourish its possibilities of being. This new myth develops itself and is renewed in the images resulting from individual and collective surrealist activities.

3. The idea of ​​a Surrealist group remains viable and exhilarating, but for my part I must say that the few attempts to form a Surrealist group in the province of Quebec have resulted in failures. With the advent of the Internet, too, the dynamics have changed and more and more, it seems to me that international networks are being made and disconnected through works, games, surveys, in association with Surrealist groups, organized around a precise geographical location.

FRENCH VERSION

1. Je suis le seul individu associé au mouvement surréaliste dans la ville de Québec, depuis la fin de la première période d’activité des ateliers de création collective La Vertèbre et le Rossignol (2007-2009). Ceci marque en fait l’apparition d’une activité surréaliste organisée dans la ville de Québec.J’ai participé à divers projets de publication, d’expositions, de discussions et d’expérimentations avec des surréalistes d’âges très divers, actifs depuis plus ou moins longtemps au sein du Mouvement. Je me rattache à une conception plutôt ésotérique du surréalisme qui semble, comme le suppose jean-Pierre Lassalle, commencer avec Antonin Artaud.

2. Au sein du mouvement révolutionnaire, le surréalisme est le seul mouvement international organisé qui approfondit et revendique le désir utopique et libertaire d’un monde complètement différent. Il imagine, et prépare en quelque sorte, une civilisation entièrement différente non seulement sur le plan économique, mais sur celui des mœurs et du sacré, dans lequel l’esprit humain puisse épanouir ses possibilités d’être. Ce mythe nouveau se développe et se renouvelle dans le images issues de l’activité surréaliste individuelle et collective.

3. L’idée d’un groupe surréaliste demeure viable et exaltante mais, pour ma part, je dois dire que les quelques tentatives pour former un groupe surréaliste dans la province de Québec se sont soldés par des échecs. Avec l’avènement d’Internet, aussi, la dynamique a changé et de plus en plus, il me semble que des réseaux se font et se défont au gré de travaux, de jeux, d’enquêtes, en association avec des groupes surréalistes plus organisés autour d’un lieu géographique.

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CLAUDE-LUCIEN CAUËT 

Surréalisme contemporain 

1. Comment vous situeriez-vous par rapport à l’histoire du surréalisme ? 

Je ne fais pas partie de l’histoire du surréalisme, même si j’ai une assez bonne connaissance de ses principaux épisodes. Je n’ai pas connu personnellement ses figures majeures, je n’ai pas d’anecdotes à rapporter, aucune nostalgie. 

Il arrive que j’ai à répondre à certaines personnes qui s’étonnent : « Comment pouvez-vous vous réclamer d’un mouvement qui date d’un siècle ? » 

Pour moi, le surréalisme est une forme d’esprit intemporelle, anhistorique. Il s’est imposé sous ce nom il y a bientôt un siècle en effet, à une époque figée qui en avait un besoin vital, mais il n’est pas indissolublement lié à cette époque. La nôtre semble l’avoir digéré et n’avoir plus besoin de lui. Il n’est pas pour autant devenu obsolète, car il ne propose pas une technique de création parmi d’autres qui passent, encore moins une mode qui peut se démoder. 

De naissance peut-être, je suis fondamentalement surréaliste, comme bien d’autres que moi à travers tous les âges et tous les pays. C’est pourquoi le surréalisme ne peut disparaître. S’il est actuellement occulté aux yeux du public, du moins dans sa vérité non édulcorée, il est certain que, sous son nom ou sous un autre, il reviendra un jour au premier plan de l’histoire des idées. 

2. Qu’est-ce qui rend le surréalisme pertinent pour le monde dans lequel nous vivons aujourd’hui ? 

Je ne pense pas, hélas, que le surréalisme soit, à proprement parler, pertinent pour le monde d’aujourd’hui. La liberté, l’amour, la poésie « font consensus », comme on dit, c’est-à-dire sont des mots révérés, mais vidés de leur essence subversive. Si vous aimez l’imagination, allez voir des films de science-fiction; si vous voulez du merveilleux, c’est à Disneyland que ça se passe; du hasard dans les rencontres, branchez-vous aux sites spécialisés; de l’humour, essayez la télé-réalité; de la beauté, fréquentez les musées comme tout le monde. Mais que cette imagination ne pardonne pas, que ce merveilleux soit beau, ce hasard objectif, cet humour noir et cette beauté convulsive, sont autant d’exigences hors de saison. 

Le surréalisme a d’autant moins de place et de fonction dans ce monde que celui-ci l’a absorbé et dénaturé. Il n’est pas rejeté, il est castré de son pouvoir contestataire, relégué dans le passé, vénéré hypocritement et muséifié si ça rapporte. De sorte que, malgré mon affirmation initiale, il s’avère, sous cette forme aseptisée, un peu trop pertinent pour ce monde ploutocratique. 

Comment lui rendre sa vraie pertinence, c’est-à-dire son impertinence ? Voilà quelle serait plutôt la question à poser. Mais je n’ai pas la réponse. 

3. L’idée d’un groupe surréaliste est-elle encore viable ? 

Afin d’entretenir le feu du surréalisme, malgré l’étouffement cordial dont il est accablé, il faut que ceux qui le nourrissent ne se perdent pas de vue. Il est souhaitable qu’ils se retrouvent physiquement pour se livrer à certains rituels de jeux et à diverses expériences collectives qui ravivent les braises en métaphore dans l’athanor spirituel. Un groupe permet à ses membres de se conforter en milieu hostile, mais aussi de réaliser ce dont les individus isolés sont incapables. 

Cependant il est non moins souhaitable, de mon point de vue en tout cas, que ce groupe respecte le principe anarchiste du refus d’autorité. Il se trouve que nous sommes quelques-uns à partager cette conviction. Nous nous réunissons de façon informelle autour de quelques principes communs pour confronter librement, sans dogmatisme, nos idées, nos expériences, et entreprendre quelques œuvres collectives. Un tel groupe est parfaitement viable et, avec d’autres dans le monde, il est indispensable à la pérennité d’un surréalisme sans compromis. 

Paris, le 18 janvier 2017 

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BEATRIZ HAUSNER

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

I am the heir of surrealist history. I grew up in the context of surrealism, first in Chile, then in Canada. Its philosophy has guided me throughout. 

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

Surrealism is more necessary than ever, both as philosophy to guide us individually, and as a set of precepts to engage politically and socially, in order to change the world, and ultimately achieve surreality.

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

I don’t think the idea of a group is viable, mostly because surrealists tend to lose sight of the larger community they belong to, arguing uselessly, usually about the degrees of commitment to surrealist ideas. Rather than a group, I feel that surrealists should see themselves as a community, whose members will necessarily differ in focus at times, due to the circumstances imposed by geography and its social contexts.

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STEPHEN J. CLARK 23/01/2017

Notes on the Mythology of the Real – 

How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism? What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now? Is the idea of the surrealist group still viable?

Perhaps I can only measure surrealism’s significance in terms of how and what I discovered about it at particular times in my life. Even before I discovered surrealism there’s no doubt that I’d encountered instances of what might be thought of as ‘precursors to surrealism’ in my childhood; both in terms of anticipating my own discovery but also what would conventionally be viewed as a precursor in surrealism’s history. So for instance, I recall obsessively returning to details of Bosch’s unearthly delights reproduced in an encyclopaedia early in life. That experience was seminal to me and yet it relied more on an emotional engagement rather than an awareness of surrealism’s history. Surrealism is one pattern amongst many in culture’s fabric for people to find. All that matters is what happens or what we do with that pattern when we find it. Does it become a sanitised and concluded entry in art or cultural history or a restless map for revolt and transformation? Surrealism’s history is always examined when in fact the real treasure is still to be found by delving into its mythology. 

So my critical and theoretical understanding of surrealism’s history and an appreciation of its ideas is inseparable from an engagement with it on ethical and empathetic grounds. At first it was not a matter of intellectual engagement but more a case of what surrealism promised in terms of liberation from a life that had been stultified and demoralized by the ‘Thatcherite era’ in Britain. Surrealism’s influence was such that I began identifying affinities and adopting surrealist methods to my own activities, to my own experiences. It was the beginning of a dialogue that has become second nature to me now to the extent that I rarely use the term surrealist when I am thinking of or referring to ideas that are, on reflection, distinctly surrealist. So in a sense surrealism is remade through one’s critical and creative engagement with it, it melds with one’s gnosis of the world.

Surrealist methods reveal uncomfortable truths and revelatory aspects of the real that established society wishes to repress. Humans can no more dispense with myth than they can with words. In our dreams we are carried in the currents of myth. Enduring mythic forms exist within language and culture, indeed are a constitutive and binding element within language and culture; they can be invoked and explored subjectively by the individual, or manipulated by an oppressive government, so that abiding, ancient forms take on transformed appearances and meanings to influence how we dream and how we live. Any struggle for social liberation is also a struggle for liberation through these forms that shape the possibilities of spirit and action.

Any thorough understanding and appreciation of surrealism’s history is inseparable from its spirit, that is, an empathetic engagement with and transformation by and of, mythic, ludic and poetic forms (metaphor, analogy, archetype etc.) latent within and constitutive of culture and language. If surrealism is a kind of rage it is also a kind of remembering. Surrealism is a kind of waking within the dream of life and discovering ways in which to explore its hidden currents.

I find that the first question is phrased in such a way that’s suggestive of a Cartesian detachment. Perhaps the traditional method of the formal enquiry itself imposes certain parameters, aping scientific discourse as a way of implicitly seeking authentication or endorsement. To answer the question one must also attempt to evaluate how surrealism appears to have been appropriated. To defend surrealism against either pop-culture bastardisation/ commodification or from being desiccated by academia is an illusory fight. There is a simulacrum of surrealism masquerading through culture just as there is a simulacrum of alchemy or anarchism for instance; a consequence of a society changed by and conditioned for mass-production, pacified consumption and infotainment. 

It is this simulacrum of surrealism that academia, by-and-large bases its studies on and not the continuous current that the Czech-Slovak Group represents for instance. The history that’s conventionally found in academic studies traces a divergent trajectory then, into a blind alley of the ironic posturing and pacifying stances of intellectual elites.

For me surrealist activity inherently involves defiant, playful and critical methods for exploring and questioning the mythology of the real. With an emphasis on the word activity, it is born from the necessity to question social reality and by implication the limits of the Capitalist agenda imposed upon the possibilities of human experience. The resurgence of surrealist ideas today couldn’t be more pertinent in an age of disintegrating communities, increasing alienation and insidious exploitation. The surrealist group is still possible, still imaginable to those who are willing to give enough, to stray enough, to risk enough, to hope against the distrust and stultification of the age. 

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BERTRAND SCHMITT

How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

Quand j’ai pris –un peu par hasard– contact avec le groupe réuni autour de Vincent Bounoure, au début des années 1990, je ne savais pas que quelques personnes avaient décidé de continuer l’aventure collective en France après 1969 et je pensais (sans doute comme la plupart des jeunes gens de mon âge) que le surréalisme organisé faisait partie du passé; qu’il appartenait, d’une certaine façon, à l’histoire. Il est vrai que les manuels de littérature, les discours universitaires et les propos de certains anciens surréalistes, désormais « rangés », faisaient tout pour engluer le surréalisme dans une des petites cases bien ordonnées de l’histoire, de la culture, des idées et que le surréalisme, étant passé de mode aux yeux de ceux qui décidaient de ce qui devait être ou non, apparaissait alors comme une incongruité monumentale

Ce n’est donc pas pour faire partie de cette « histoire » (avec ses grands et petits moments) que j’ai décidé de rejoindre ce groupe, mais bien pour partager, au jour le jour, une façon d’être, de ressentir, d’aimer, de me révolter et de vivre, avec des individus que je sentais en total accord avec moi et dont savais que je n’en pourrais certainement pas trouver plus proches, ailleurs. L’adhésion au surréalisme n’est pas basée sur l’acceptation d’une doctrine mais sur la reconnaissance mutuelle et l’élection réciproque d’individus qui ressentent un même désir, une même exigence et les mettent en jeu dans un partage sensible. Ce sont le partage de quelques moments privilégiés, la mise en commun d’une hargne commune, d’un même désir, de mêmes envies, de mêmes révoltes, d’espoirs et de désespoirs semblables qui m’ont uni au surréalisme, mais à un surréalisme incarné, dans des individus donnés, à un moment donné. 

Bien entendu, entrer dans un groupe qui est −qu’il s’en défende ou non− le témoin et le garant d’un passé, pose nécessairement la question de l’histoire, du legs, de la passation, de la « dette sensible »… mais ceci est souvent imposé de l’extérieur. Dans ma relation au groupe, il n’a jamais été question de nostalgie, de respect, de patrimoine, de succession, de commémoration, d’ancêtres (et en matière de révolte nul n’a besoin d’ancêtres). Bien loin d’entretenir une quelconque nostalgie, malsaine et un peu nécrophile, il a toujours s’agit de savoir ce qui, quotidiennement, collectivement, demeurait d’essentiel, de dangereux, d’exaltant, de passionnant c’est-à-dire de vivant dans l’activité surréaliste. La question et l’enjeu ont toujours été pour moi de trouver à travers certains individus des raisons de ne pas sombrer dans le désespoir ou la résignation, face à un monde désenchanté, révoltant, sordide.

What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

Si l’on regarde le monde tel qu’il se montre aujourd’hui, tel qu’il se profile pour demain, le surréalisme ‒en tant que moyen de « transformer le monde et de changer la vie »‒ peut sembler dérisoire. Son efficience ou sa capacité à agir directement ou matériellement sur un monde de plus en plus distant, de plus en plus désincarné, de plus en plus confus, brouillé, sur lequel les individus ont de moins en moins de prise concrète, sont évidemment limitées aujourd’hui, comme elles l’ont d’ailleurs toujours été. 

Car la question de la « pertinence » du surréalisme ne se mesure pas et ne s’est jamais mesurée à celle de son efficacité pratique, mais à celle de l’horizon mental qu’il ouvre. C’est la force de l’imagination, l’ouverture utopique, le mouvement même du « possible contre le réel » qui fait du surréalisme un moment de la révolte viscérale qui nous anime. Le surréalisme –en entretenant et en affûtant notre capacité d’étonnement, d’émerveillement, mais aussi en abreuvant notre capacité de révolte, notre pouvoir de refus, d’insoumission– nous permet de créer un angle de vue qui est aussi un angle d’attaque. En nous détachant de l’agitation vaine, plate, bruyante, hystérique, fragmentée, superficielle, que l’on nous présente comme l’ « actualité », la « marche » de ce monde, le surréalisme nous permet un écart salutaire, un écart absolu. Je dirai donc que ce qui fait la pertinence du surréalisme aujourd’hui est justement son inactualité, et que c’est cette inactualité fondamentale qui lui donne toute son actualité, dans une époque où la présence et la pérennité se mesurent en coups fiévreux de zapping sur la télécommande ou le clavier. Et je citerai, ici, Annie Le Brun : 

« …tout est à ébranler et [..] c’est ce qu’il y eut d’inactuel dans le surréalisme qui peut seul lui donner encore une actualité » (Qui vive, 1991)

Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

À partir du moment où ce qui donne sa pertinence, mais aussi sa sève, son dynamisme, sa vitalité et sa vie au surréalisme est qu’il est incarné; que ce qui évite au surréalisme d’être une « doctrine », un « dogme » ou un simple « mythe » (même si la dimension « mythique » du surréalisme existe et est sans doute ce qui le relie aujourd’hui à son histoire passée) est qu’il soit pris en charge par des personnes données, seul le groupe, le collectif peuvent donner sens et existence au surréalisme. N’oublions pas que le but poursuivi par le surréalisme demeure ce projet, incroyablement ambitieux et passionnant, de la « mise en commun de la pensée ». Il ne serait donc y avoir à mes yeux de surréalisme sans surréalistes pour l’incarner (nous serions sinon dans l’idéologie), tout comme il ne peut y avoir de surréalistes pour lui donner corps et chair que s’ils se reconnaissent, les uns les autres, dans une pratique et un échange sensibles. 

Les figures de la « confrérie », de « l’égrégore » de la « communauté »…, ont pu être avancées pour parler de la vie collective du (des) groupe(s) surréaliste(s), d’autres formes sont sans doute à explorer, d’autres sont certainement à inventer… mais il ne saurait y avoir de surréalisme sans surréalistes regroupés autour d’une même quête. Ces regroupement pourront prendre les formes qu’il leur semblera les plus pertinentes ou les plus nécessaires, joueront peut-être avec les nouveaux usages que nous avons de l’espace et du temps, mais ils seront toujours mus par leur volonté conjointe d’ouverture (liens internationaux, rencontre, échanges, papillonnage, compagnons de route…) et leur exigence de fusion interne, la plus forte possible, autour d’un pacte collectif.

à Prague (de corps) à et à Paris (de rêve); le 23 janvier 2017

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KARL HOWETH:

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

I am the only person at this time involved or associated with the Surrealist Movement in the state of Oklahoma USA. I have been involved in publications, games, discussions , correspondence and other collective activities for a number of years. I consider myself of the same perspectives and current as the Chicago Surrealist Group of Franklin and Penelope Rosemont and company. I am also oriented towards the spirit of experimentation summoned by Max Ernst.

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

Surrealism gives a name to the pervasive alienating and oppressive worldview that props up the current world order. It offers the solution to this worldview. The miserablism that torments today’s world can only be fought and matched by the Marvelous, total and absolute. The offer of a new world that everyone secretly ( some not so secretly) longs for.

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

It is absolutely still viable in order to organize our collective activities. Though I have had difficulties organizing a specifically Surrealist group in Oklahoma over the years ( groups are short-lived ), it is nonetheless essential. The need to make our presence permanent and ongoing, the need to have an organized and revolutionary community for mutual aid and inspiration.

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BRANDON JAY FREELS

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

I was once a member of the now defunct Portland Surrealist Group. We were active in Portland, Oregon throughout the first decade of the new millennium. We were a very small group, usually just three people, and much of our activity was localized. We attended protests and rallies, made flyers and statements, published two issues of our newsletter Flying Stone, and had regular meetings at the Red and Black Cafe. The founding of the group was largely inspired by the Chicago group, but it should also be said that we were influenced by our contact with surrealists from around the globe who we met via the Internet. It was inspiring to know that we were not alone.

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

It might not seem like it but surrealism, as a movement, is still young. The forces that caused Breton and his friends to found the surrealist movement still exist. Fascism, white supremacy, nationalism, capitalism, and militarism, still hold power, as seen this year in the United States with the election of Donald Trump. The world is still dominated by racism, sexism, transphobia, class war, toxic masculinity, homophobia, and a number of other repressive ideas. Unlike anarchism and communism, which stand against these forces in the exterior world, surrealism works in the interior. Surrealism is the abolition of repression. It is a method to decolonize the mind. In this modern era, we struggle to be who we want to be and to live the lives we want to live. The more progress that’s made, the more the superego tries to deny us that progress. 

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

The question of individual versus collective activity has no black or white answer. In many cases, group activity is important, but it is also not a necessity. It shouldn’t be seen as a priority. It is valuable in that it can inspire activity. Solidarity is greatly needed in this miserable world humanity has constructed. But, unlike in Portland where I had kindred spirits, I currently live in New Orleans and I don’t know of any surrealists here. Although this is discouraging, I am reminded of another surrealist that once lived in New Orleans, Clarence John Laughlin, who largely spent his life working on his own. Today, the gaps between individual surrealists working in isolation can quickly be reduced with the aid of the Internet. But the group dynamic, in its real world sense, is still an important driving force for surrealism’s functionality as a movement.

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CRAIG S. WILSON 1-17

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

I co-founded the Portland’s Surrealist Group which existed from 2001-2008. There were bulletins & blogs, websites, games & statements, radio shows, talks & film nights; we had weekly meetings for a while which included friends and sometimes random people from cafes. A few collaborations: Ron Sakolsky, editor of Surrealist Subversions came for a small but inspiring reading and collective creation at an independent bookstore. I curated a Johannes Bergmark show where I also played as Qkcofse and we had visits from Thom Burns and Eric Bragg. After 2008 I was an editor of Hydrolith 1 and have done a few things with the St. Louis Surrealist Group. I was in the Surrealism in 2012 show under the pen name Shibek with four light photos. Lately I’ve contributed to Peculiar Mormyrid. 

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

There is a great deal of miserabilism- needless death, destruction and suffering in the present world. Surrealism inspires people instead to become more of who they really are in the face of disapproval and social repression. The voice of revelation and a different conception of life must not be stifled.


3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

. It’s not at all fair to say that surrealist groups are caught up in nostalgia. There are groups doing exhibitions, publications, broadsides, readings & events that seem to create a rarified environment, a ‘collective experience of individuals’ to riff from Andre Masson’s phrase. There have also been temporary groups, ephemeral combinations of co-creators coming together for specific projects that have inspired me with what they brought to life. 

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FRANCES DEL VALLE:

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

I became aware of surrealism through my professor and mentor Eugenio Fernández Granell in 1954. When I met Granell and discovered the surrealists, I felt much affinity for their ideas. I have always rebelled against established models and rules, and searched for my own way, for other interpretations of reality and things.

One thing is surrealism formally and intellectually, and another is my way of thinking and working. I do what I want with the urge and notions I have without following anyone. It is always a search to express that which is inexpressible in color, with lines, without naming them.

 2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

One can investigate new visions and explore old ones. Old ways of working are incomplete. All changes – the world, the visions, and the ways of working. Before, we didn’t know about the existence of molecules, the formulas of the immeasurable, about smallness, and quantum. Today, one can go much farther, because we can talk about the infinite. However, the problem will be when we start thinking only about the finite, because we are finite – but not the universe.

It is too easy to be set in a routine, and think that one knows all when one doesn’t. 

There are no patterns. Things are in constant change. They may seem similar, but are not equal. In the long run they may differ completely. One cannot really know what is going to happen. Change may seem obvious, but is also sudden and imperceptible. 

One has an open field for a roaming imagination, for complete spontaneity, to be intuitive. Inspiration can be sought in different things, but it may come seemingly out of nowhere. 

It is a constant process of search, encounters, and discovery.

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable? 

Surrealism is not bound. It does not conform to casual limits. However, a group can exist associated by the most basic ideas: no rules, infinite vision, and the acceptance of change. Breton’s group was not closed. People would come and go. Surrealism looks to the future, to new horizons.

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JEAN-MICHEL GOUTIER

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

1.— Qui d’autre qu’un ami pour chanter vos louanges et vous permettre, par là, d’être rangé parmi ceux dont on admire la discrétion ? Au cours des années soixante, à propos de l’importance croissante prise dans l’expression plastique surréaliste, par la fusion amoureuse, thème cher à Denis de Rougemont, José Pierre écrivait, en 1987, dans sa préface à l’exposition La Femme et le surréalisme, au musée cantonal des Beaux- Arts de Lausanne : « qu’ elle est à l’origine de la Carte absolue que présentent, en 1965, à Breton et à ses amis, Giovanna et Jean-Michel Goutier. Tout concorde alors, semble-t-il, pour que cette image, de la fusion amoureuse, héritière à n’en pas douter des figurations de l’androgyne mais marquant indiscutablement un progrès sensible par rapport à celle-ci, apparaisse à la veille de la disparition de Breton comme le dernier mot du surréalisme quant au problème de la femme indissolublement lié à celui de l’amour. » 

2. —La définition par Breton du travail intellectuel telle qu’elle ressort de sa réponse à une enquête de la revue L’Esprit français en 1930 : « Celui qui a pour objet de satisfaire chez l’homme l’appétit de l’esprit, aussi naturel que la faim » demeure, à ma connaissance, une des meilleures justifications du rôle des intellectuels dans la société, n’en déplaise à tous ceux qui aujourd’hui le contestent, le dénigrant systématiquement pour lui préférer celui des experts ou des spécialistes en tout genre. L’implication des surréalistes dans le monde dans lequel ils vivaient a toujours été constante. Elle se manifestait par des déclarations collectives, le plus souvent par des tracts édités et diffusés par leurs soins ou dont ils ont été à l’initiative au départ comme le Manifeste des 121 ou Déclaration sur le droit à l’insoumission dans la guerre d’Algérie, par exemple, qui a eu un profond retentissement, à l’époque des faits, dans le monde entier. . Étaient éminemment surréalistes, dans le groupe, bien entendu, ceux qui collaboraient aux revues surréalistes et aux expositions surréalistes, mais tout particulièrement ceux qui participaient également à la rédaction des tracts, de même que ceux qui les approuvaient en les signant. 

3. — Devant l’abus constant du substantif surréalisme qui, vidé de toute substance, est devenu un mot à la mode, un mot fourre tout pour singulariser, discréditer ou valoriser un produit, le comble est atteint quand les médias s’en emparent pour définir les propos odieux de Donald Trump au lendemain de son investiture. « Exégètes, pour y voir clair, RAYER le mot surréaliste » a- t-on immédiatement envie de déclarer comme Paul Nougé, et d’ajouter pour conclure un extrait de la lettre de Benjamin Péret à André Breton du 12 janvier 1942 : « Je crois aussi que si nous réussissons à mettre sur pied quelque chose de nouveau, il nous faudra abandonner le mot surréalisme pour couper avec le passé et semer la bande de souffleurs essoufflés qui s’attachera au surréalisme dépassé. » Abandonner le terme pour faire vivre l’idée, ce fut également la position adoptée par certains de mes amis, notamment par Jean Schuster, en 1969, à la fin du surréalisme historique.

*******

              

DAVID COULTER

  1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

Living in the 92nd year after the publication of The Manifestoes of Surrealism, which for academics and critics marks the “official” beginning of the surrealist movement, a movement that is timeless, I count myself as one among many in a long line of poets, philosophers, and seers seeking to find the golden road (or green road). My world/historical perspective has been defined but not dominated by surrealism, and will continue be so until surrealism is superseded by an even grander vision.

2) What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

This sometimes illusory world of tumult and chaos, degradation of nature, and capitulation to the basest economic forces makes surrealism even more relevant. It is the inspirational flame of love, magic, and freedom. Our current situation places humanity at the brink of an annihilation which may be gradual or sudden. Faced with this dystopian and despotic (thank you computer for the spelling suggestion) wave of suicidal stupidity surrealism is a marvelous weapon for the very fact of being the science of the marvelous which like nature will always provide a fitting riposte to the miserable. Despite the glossy sheen of capitalist exploitation of phony surrealist art and “the surreal”, surrealism is the untameable beast. — n.b. Please excuse the bombast and rhetoric which is most likely influenced by the current turn of events.

3) Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

Yes, most definitely. If we are talking of groups like those that existed previously, it is still possible in certain places where comrades can meet, in person, regularly and engage in events, provocations, investigations, etc. I think the Cabo Mondego Section of Portuguese Surrealism is an example of such an “active” group. I am certain there are other surrealist groups in the world doing similar things. Collective activity engenders greater discoveries. Collectivity activity is the cornerstone of the surrealist movement. I like what Rik Lina said when asked to describe this thing of ours by someone unfamiliar with surrealism. He answers that it is a “secret society”. I believe it is possible to be both egalitarian/democratic and secret or occult(ed).

I am of two minds regarding the internet groups. While allowing for surrealists around the world to communicate and collaborate with each other with greater facility, I often find that what is presented on the internet to be most heavily weighted towards exhibiting art at the expense of theoretical investigations and true collective activity. Breton’s proviso that art, poetry, theater, etc. created by surrealists are “lamentable expedients” is too often forgotten.

********

KATHLEEN FOX

  1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

With difficulty. 

The history of surrealism generally seems alien to me and to what I do. It’s a daunting and weighty mantle to assume when making contemporary work, and one to which I’m magnetically drawn, yet also simultaneously compelled to create according to the dictates of my own inner compass. 

 2 What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

History repeating itself of course, but with the uncertainty that comes once again with an unpredictable and aggressive new world order, and possible eventual destruction of mankind, surrealism is as relevant as ever, if not more so. 

 3 Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

The response to and exchange of ideas in the group is hugely significant to the dissemination of surrealist thought, not to mention the camaraderie experienced when like minded people come together. Even when responding at a distance (as a solitary satellite) to inquiries and investigations, the knowledge that I’m joined across time and space to fellow explorers fills me with excitement and a sense of group purpose.

*********

JOSEPH JABLONSKI

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

Since my embrace of surrealism dates from the mid or late 1950s, I would first situate myself as a postwar surrealist, looking back to the 1920s, thirties and forties. My actual involvement with a surrealist group (in Chicago) commenced in about 1970. In that time frame I must be considered a Vietnam war era surrealist. Of course, since I remain a surrealist adherent today, in 2017, I must be a contemporary surrealist. My greatest affinity remains with the surrealism I encountered in my now remote youth; the first and second manifestos and Breton’s classic definition of “pure psychic automatism”.

I am still enchanted and motivated by psychic automatism (pure or aspiring) which I found, in English, in the poetry of Philip Lamantia, Franklin Rosemont and others as well as Andre Breton in particular, examples I always attempted to recapture in my own practice. I was not inclined to reorient my expressive goal under influences such as existentialism, situationism, structuralism, post-structuralism, postmodernism, posthumanism, etc.

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

Surrealism was never meant to be relevant to “the world in which we live now.” It’s role always was to subvert and transform that world. That is not just an opinion of mine, but a first principle from the beginning. “Relevance” is a term that first arose to cultural prominence in the 1960s, and it always implied, on some level, conformity to current thinking. Surrealism does not conform; it diverges. So we should modify the question in this way: can surrealism expect to subvert or transform the world in which we live now?

It is easy to simply answer no. Are not the touching points between surrealism and
and the current world either lacking or too insufficient to admit of influence? But consider that that the “subvert and transform” program can never, and never did in practice, mean anything other than revolt, total revolt. Surrealism aspires to a revolt of the poetic spirit that is always possible, and always successful to the extent that it liberates a certain number of lives from the tentacles of a mentally and morally rotting civilization. This leads me to my answer to the third question.

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

Surrealism as revolt necessitates, as “a matter of life or death”, ongoing face to face solidarity among individuals. I leave it to others to discuss the value of virtual versus in-person formations, as well as the requirements of collective effort in the preparation of journals, exhibitions, street actions and other essential endeavors.

It seems to me to be an absolute given that mutual affinities, no less than long standing tradition, assures the permanence of the group presence in the movement as a whole.

Even beyond this, I perceive a new potential for the surrealist group’s role in the world that will succeed the present era. A few years ago there was in the movement an interesting discussion of the “surrealist survival kit”, an idea originally born of an exchange between Leonora Carrington and Penelope Rosemont. I would suggest that this overdue hint at surrealism’s survival powers is also an overdue tribute to its passional attraction to each generation succeeding the 1920s. A movement with such a perennial appeal to the young is just the sort of movement that is historically equipped to survive the collapse of the dying dystopia we see around us today. From this angle of vision, the surrealist group can become the attractive seed of new revolutionary collectives, physical as well as spiritual, that can germinate and grow not in the shell but in ruins of the old civilization. Here the bond of the group becomes the magical poetic agency that subverts and transforms a world. 

********

ALEX JANUÁRIO, São Paulo, Brazil.

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

R. A história do surrealismo? Sem cair na discussão, “surrealismo histórico x surrealismo eterno”, o surrealismo tem que ser colocado em prática através das ações cotidianas. A minha relação histórica com o surrealismo se dá como conhecimento iniciático que busca uma compreensão maior do surrealismo não em vias formais, acadêmicas passíveis de interpretações pautadas por certos interesses que acabaram indo contra o próprio espírito surrealista, vide o que José Pierre, Jean Schuster e outros fizeram após a morte de André Breton. O viés histórico do surrealismo é importante na medida que você vivencie, senão é formalismo puro. Surrealismo é atemporal.

The history of surrealism? I take no interest to go into the debate “historical surrealism vs. eternal surrealism”. Surrealism has to be put into practice through everyday actions. My historical relationship with surrealism is given as initiatory knowledge that seeks a greater understanding of surrealism, not in formal, academic ways that can be interpreted by certain interests that ended up against the surrealist spirit itself, see what José Pierre, Jean Schuster, and Others did after André Breton’s death. The historical bias of surrealism is important as long as you live it, otherwise it is pure formalism.

Surrealism is timeless.

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

R. O que torna o surrealismo relevante é a sua força transgressora. O corpo humano em sua totalidade amorosa é o que conduz o espírito surrealista vivo e combativo. O surrealismo é a expressão orgânica com o selvagem. Para quem busca o sentido prático da liberdade, o surrealismo é primordial para o agora, é de onde emerge o amor.

What makes Surrealism relevant is its transgressing force. The human body in its loving totality is what drives the living and combative surrealist spirit. Surrealism is the organic expression with the wild. For those who seek the practical sense of freedom, surrealism is primordial for the now; that is where love emerges.

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

R. Sim! O surrealismo é essencialmente movimento, ação no horizonte coletivo, encontros de pessoas que buscam através dos grupos a experiência radicalmente visceral com o outro. Em ações grupais, o sentido da revolta, o fogo emanado pelo Sol Negro, é a luz do homem que busca o “ouro do tempo”. O grupo DeCollage busca este ouro, no sentido maior da Aventura Surrealista. O sentido das ações grupais é o sentido mágico alquímico dos elos estabelecidos pelo surrealismo como um modo de vida.

Sure! Surrealism is essentially movement, action on the collective horizon, encounters of people who seek through the groups the radically visceral experience with the other. In group actions, the sense of revolt, the fire emanated by the Black Sun, is the light of the human being who seeks the “gold of time.” The DeCollage group seeks this gold, in the greater sense of Surrealistic Adventure. The meaning of group actions is the magical alchemical sense of the links established by surrealism as a way of life.

*******

JOHANNES BERGMARK:

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

I have never thought of this question, (and I’m not sure I understand what you mean or your purpose with it) except possibly for the history of the Stockholm group, of which I am a member since the official start in 1986 (and in the formation phase the year before). However, to consider myself a “member” is perhaps more of an attitude than a reality in that I have been away from Stockholm because of temporary relocations in maybe a third of these years (norway, poland, usa etc) and a constant travelling around the world – mostly because of touring as a musician but also and often combined with trying to meet as many surrealists around the world as possible. Franklin Rosemont called me the “probably most travelling surrealist” and maybe so: I have met surrealists in usa (Chicago, Alabama, SF, LA, NY, Wisconsin, St Louis etc), portugal, australia, england (London, Leeds, Shanklin), czech, france, spain, netherlands, denmark, greece, turkey, estonia … so for me, the living surrealism is more geographical than historical.

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

The commercialization of the spirit on the personality market. Mental repression and sweating are as severe as ever.

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

Very much so. Even though I’ve been away from the group so much, I’ve always felt that my belonging to it is very reinforcing and encouraging. The meetings might not always be so “productive”, but they have been a zone where I feel I can talk freely in a sense that I encounter nowhere else in the world. Certainly not the art or music world, nor the political world. More than this, it has been a group of very different individuals with very different ways of thinking that can always provide a creative criticism or complement any thought or question you might have around life and thinking. It’s a very good antidote to any stifling egotism that the art market is so full of. I miss it every time I’m away.

But except for my own reasons, I think the group provides an intellectual work division and inspiration that is essential to any intellectual endeavour. The surrealist group has its own way of functioning: its edges are blurry and dynamic, its not democratically nor consensually formed but depending on forces of inspiration and creativity, perhaps sometimes on frustrations that can be turned into action. Its essense is on what it does. And often, it can be a collective of dormant potential for years before something “comes out” in the open. This doesn’t dismiss it, it’s just like cikadas that can be in the ground for 17 years before they come out and show themselves. A surrealist group in action is in a very palpable way much larger than the sum of individuals.

*******

JANICE HATHAWAY

How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?

My digital photo-collages expand the vocabulary of traditional cut and paste collage. My photo-collages are completely digital in approach and I only use my own photography. This situates my work firmly within the surrealist tradition of both expanding and disrupting tradition. My work is additionally overtly female yet technological – a combination not typically paired. I became involved with surrealism through my participation with the Glass Veal group in Alabama in the 1970s and continue working with members of that group as Fresh Dirt today. 

What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

Surrealism, as a revolutionary movement, remains both important and relevant. The need for surrealist action and a shared purpose to challenge the status quo continues to increase as society moves closer to fascism and the restriction of human rights to citizens worldwide.

Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

A surrealist group assures a sense of community to individuals who might otherwise not realize they are part of a movement. Since I have been part of an ongoing, though at times inactive, group from Alabama since the 1970s, I recognize the importance of community and consider the members of the Alabama group my surrealist family. The Internet makes it possible to communicate with other surrealists from around the world, helping us appreciate the struggle we all face and providing international solidarity.

DAVEY WILLIAMS

Response to Enquiry on Surrealism

1. How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism? 

By “situate myself” I can only think in terms of “what I have concretely contributed to the surrealist endeavor. Aside from some illustrations and writings in various surrealist publications, exhibitions, events, etc., there is little to show. 

In an objective history of surrealism I am a founding collaborator in the Glass Veal group in Alabama in the 1980s. A voracious reader/observer of anything remotely applicable. Provincial, mono-linguistic, critical thought advocate, pursuing a rigorous experience and interpretation of life in the ‘pataphysical understanding of what is behind our phenomena. What causes the marvelous, accessing the unknowable, etc. 

The only ‘revolutionary’ contribution I might have made would be as an improvising musician working in a milieu of free improvisation. Germinated in and around the dada/surrealist-empowered Raudelunas group in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, LaDonna Smith and I began in the early 70s to focusing exclusively in duet and small ensembles on the most intuitive and expansive unconscious sound/musical experimentation, gathering much experience in the characteristics of automatic musico-sonic phenomena. This endeavor has been known for many decades now as TransMuseq both as our duo’s name and as the imprint name of our recordings. 

 This was all making the case for a music demanding absolutely no pre-organized content. Rigorously outside conventions of music-making other than a collective listening and uncalculated response. Accessing types of psychic interactions directly controlling the real-time organization of the music. 

Unlimiting musical language and methodology conducts unconscious information into literally unheard-of psycho-musical automatism. As in automatic drawing or writing, as in shamanism, a true automatic music. More importantly, a surrealist method of music creation. Implicitly therefore, a musical surreality.

 This proposed a de facto resolution of Breton’s ban on music in association with surrealism. Based on our own experiences, this posited this musico-sonic activity directly inside the surrealist trajectory of ‘pure psychic automatism.’ I had some essays to this effect published in English and French books and journals. LaDonna and I had many meetings & exchanges involving this with other surrealists, including certain Parisian groups and individuals directly associated with the late André Breton. (i.e. Jose Pierre and Eduard Jaguer among others)

2. What makes surrealism relevant to the world in which we live now?

To me surrealism is a transcendently prehensile primordial tendency in thought, perception and interpretation of our realities. A way of knowing and being. As such it can be no more or less relevant than it always is, for the individual anyway. 

Its relevance to the world is possibly another matter nowadays. Firstly, the term ‘surrealism’ has been purloined by populist and commercial concerns, and is now taken by “the world” to be merely an adjective synonymous with “weird” and “fantastic” or bewildering,etc. Socially unusual situation, perhaps uncomfortable. Also as Ron Sokolsky recently pointed out, associated nowadays with damage inflicted by terrorism, as a synonym for unprecedented negativity in the miserablist world. 

 Given the notion of absolute divergence, relevance to society is of relatively minor value. I disdain populism personally and do not trust any mass of people. I am not concerned with influencing a herd mentality. The relevance of surrealism lies in its fabulously uncanny and intrusive nature upon the individuals who experience it. Those who conduct its experiments, record, analyze and publish its findings, who enact the liberation of the human mind and spirit. Guided by dreams, and who is not guided during the dream? Pure surreality exists outside of conscious decision-making. Surrealism is the decision to value it fully.

 In any case the world we live in now is undergoing a colossal paradigm shift. It’s entirely possible that “the world in which we live now” could come under such constant upheaval that it presents nothing consistent enough to have relevance to or not, in any case. 

3. Is the idea of a surrealist group still viable?

‘Surrealist group’ as a collaboration of individuals working in unity of purpose towards the activities involved with liberation of human spirit and revelation of thought and image, mutual criticism & inspiration, the subversion of miserablism, etc. This is entirely viable. However the nature of groups is changing. “Group” has previously implied a geographical location, regular meetings in a café or in houses and apartments, physical collaboration on drawing, writing, sound making, collage, etc. Postal interactions and correspondence between groups and locales, when the primary communicating vessel was some form of ‘the object.’

 Because of the internet and digital technologies, group collaborations no longer require that everyone is in the same place and time. This doesn’t in any way affect the viability of a group, but at least in our experience it makes full-group meetings a rare occasion, even though in our case we have been personal friends for decades. This is not a necessity for groups of course, at least it hasn’t been ‘historically.’ 

 This new paradigm of instantaneity and diaspora could present issues down the road. In the absence of real-time body language-reading unconscious vibe-exchanging talking-about-things communications there could be an absence of clarity, of clear-purpose bonding. 

Groups define themselves in terms of unity, motivation, ethics, activities, etc. In order for a group to be actually useful to the development of surrealist thought (which is more important to me than “surrealism”) vigilance and clarity of intent is essential. There could be a risk of this getting watered down somehow, marginalized as a primary factor in the collective mentality. becoming subsumed into the cult of the spectacle.

 On the other hand, this electronic world is now surrealism’s stage. The possibilities of exchange between members and groups are unprecedented. Viability remains, certainly. Definition of “group” may perhaps now be expanding, possibly into peril, possibly into greater utility to the union of intractable opposites along with their potential satellites, fractals, anti-matters, and chewable railroad engines


Pierre petiot

Answer to a surrealist inquiry – 2017-01-25
I am afraid that the following might lead to a few enmities. It does not matters, I have

  • like many others – a certain habit of it 1
    . And I also know that it will strengthen
    some more silent friendships as I have often enough perceived here and there.
    But what is of course much more important to me here is to contribute to the health
    of a movement in which it is not within my reach to cease to belong – as each one of
    us intimately knows as much as I do, just as it would not be within the reach of
    anyone to drive me out of it.
    Having said this, I have no illusions and no hope. I simply and rather desperately do
    what I think must be done. That’s all.
    I do not therefore intend either to provoke or even to respond to any “new” polemic,
    knowing enough how much the arguments used will have neither the advantage of
    freshness nor the flavor of the novelty.
    Beyond the duty of criticizing2
    that has been the responsibility of men since the dawn
    of the species, I shall obviously answer only what will show some concern for the
    implementation of the proposals I have made or others that may be similar.
    Pierre Petiot – ppetiot2@free.fr
    How would you situate yourself in relation to the history of surrealism?
    The history of surrealism – or more precisely the content of the surrealist corpus —
    “historical” or not – taken as a whole, can and must be a source of inspiration for
    experimentation and thought. Moreover, this corpus keeps our hearts warm in times
    of indifference or, more exactly, of despair that assail us – or should. That is a fact.
    But it is also true that in the recent “movement3
    “, the history of surrealism is often a
    kind of derivative, if not an escape, from experimental activities, that in the course of
    20 years of common activity I felt the most often – as well as many others — as
    weak, repetitive4
    and the adventurous content of which was too often virtually non-
    existent. In short, if surrealism feeds on almost anything, it seems to me that it
    somewhat abuses of a kind of drug that, from the abysses of my absence of culture, I
    perceive as not very far from History of Art.
    On the other hand, the theoretical activity of the movement seems to me to be equally
    reduced, repetitive – I dare not say non existent here, but I think so – as its
    experimental, and even more simply sensual and perceptive activities. It is obviously
  • *****************************************************

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1AK0XcwCuvhb8mUKhwu5FQPAym1F5yg7E/view?usp=drivesdk

  • 1 . “The fact that you are paranoid does not mean they are not after you ” 😀
    2 . Criticism, according to Nietzsche, is the service one owes to friends.
    3 . Which is largely — as we all know very well, an absence of movement. A general observation made during the
    1999 exhibition in Prague, of which this survey provides additional evidence.
    4 . or even obsessive

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