Recently we have seen a wave, an inflation of events and exhibitions called “surrealist.” One of its characteristics is the notable presence of sponsorship logos, most of them representing more or less official cultural institutions. We note the participation of more and less well-known, including some repulsive people from the academic world.

In other words: the limelight and that strange virtue of the commentary.

Regarding the participation of active surrealists in such “academic-cultural” events, I think, for example, of this one: (look, with the Consul General of Mexico!).

For some of us, among others here in Spain, the participation of several friends at least in the first (The keys of desire) of the two exhibitions in Costa Rica surprised us a lot. Or did you not know the “details”? (The rather cultural and official nature of this exhibition, which was attended by shameless artists and other careerists who openly distanced themselves from surrealism, but admitted frankly that they could not refuse such publicity, an exhibition that counted the presence of 8 regional embassies on opening day) A simple glance is enough: countries with doubtful or worse regimes, if not overtly totalitarian. The second exhibition appears to be of the same vein, as probably one very soon in the Centro Cultiral Espacio Matta Santiago, Chile, which also looks more like an eclectic hodgepodge typical of our time, without even a bit of any lounge “spice or scandal”.

And how about Maison André Breton? I notice the barely hidden sarcasm of a note published by Miguel Corrales on his surrint blog about its “European Heritage Days” and some “surrealist culture” …

Are we blind enough not to see that the imaginative emptiness that results from the crisis and the decline of bourgeois-capitalist civilization inevitably implies the more or less systematic recovery, by its cultural institutions and other mercenaries, of certain dimensions of surrealism isolated of course from its basic principles and of its essential spirit? That would only leave us a de-fanged trinket “surrealism” turned into a simple cultural or aesthetic expression.

Are we so stupid, or innocent and, in the worst case, cynical, to believe that such cultural institutions are neutral and should not be seen as more or less integral parts of the spectacle and the system? What about the fundamental surrealist position against the dominant ideology?

Do we accept, through some anemic mental routine, to participate in the schizophrenia of the vile culture in which we are immersed, our left hand unable to feel what the right is doing? And let surrealism silently fall into atrophy in an abulic sum of small ivory towers afraid of missing the prestigious “opportunities” offered by such events?

Could one seriously tell us that this is only a tactical use of this petty world, of such opportunities and institutions, as if today’s surrealism had some kind of magical subversive power? (And quite occult, sometimes even for its own authors!). Would the surrealists feel superior, in fact, to this terrible world, a kind of elite?

This is not about a kind of fundamentalism in terms of exposing or participating in exhibitions or events about surrealism, and we still have some inevitable errors in our assessments; it is ultimately about the circumstances. But the cases mentioned above exceed, in my opinion, the limits of the morally acceptable.

Finally: The real against the possible? Away from any healthy and more than ever necessary absolute divergence, these manifestations are on the contrary empty of the slightest (not even symbolic) divergence, of the simplest and vague hint of a utopian (for not to say revolutionary) sense?

What a contrast, by the way, with the tangible and explosive sociopolitical divergences, undoubtedly loaded with beautiful glimpses of surrealist experience, in Hong Kong, in Ecuador or in Catalonia, to name only the most recent ones in this admirable category of human activity.

Bruno Jacobs
October 2019