June 7-10, 2018
Chicago Surrealism from Object to Activism
Exhibitions, Film, History, Theory,
Manifestoes, Theater, Poetry, & Music …
at Various Locations in Chicago
Why Now? Why Not?
Celebrating the 1968
Chicago Surrealist Protest
Show at 50 years!
Thursday, June7, 2018
Cochrane-Woods Art Center at 5540 S. Greenwood Avenue
Introduced and organized by Janine Mileaf (Arts Club of Chicago) and Jennifer Cohen (University of Chicago)
- Michael Richardson (International Encyclopedia of Surrealism);
- Kristoffer Nohenden (Surrealism, Cinema and the Search for a New Myth); Abigail Susik (Radical Dreams: Surrealism and Counter Culture);
- Michael Stone-Richards (The Wreck of Art: Studies in the Thought of Guy Debord)
- Moderated by Jennifer Wild (University of Chicago)
1pm: Tour of Smart Gallery
Bill Brown (University of Chicago), Ali Gass (Smart Gallery),
Christine Mehring (University Of Chicago)
3pm: Roundtable ( From the folks who brought you “Make Love, Not War!”)
Cochrane-Woods Art Center at 5540 S. Greenwood Avenue
- Penelope Rosemont (Surrealist Women: An International Anthology)
- Ron Sakolsky (Surrealist Subversions: Rants, Writings & Images by the Surrealist Movement in the United States)
- Myrna Bell Rochester (René Crevel: le Pays des miroirs absolus)
- Winston Smith (All Riot on the Western Front)
- V. Vale (Pranks! Re/Search)
- Moderated by Rebecca Zorach (The Passionate Triangle)
Friday, June 8
6pm: The Arts Club of Chicago at 201 East Ontario Street
Surrealist Salon: Mad poetry by Ron Sakolsky & Penelope Rosemont & Extraordinary Improv by the Neo-Futurists
Saturday, June 9
6pm: The Study Chicago at 1837 West Fulton Street
Film: Marian Wallace, V. Vale, Tom Palazzolo
Music: Andy Alper, U Can Unlearn Guitar Band
Steve Smith & End Result Band
With the Participation or works of
Paul Garon, Beth Garon, Dennis Cunningham, Gale Ahrens, Franklin Rosemont, Rikki, Tamara Smith, Joel Williams, Ruti, Robert Green, Schlecter Duvall, Winston Smith, Joseph Jablonski & many more.
University of Chicago | Arts Club of Chicago | The Smart Gallery
The Study Chicago on Fulton
Revolutionary Imagination: Chicago Surrealism from Object to Activism is part of Art Design Chicago, an initiative of the Terra Foundation for American Art exploring Chicago’s art and design legacy, with presenting partner The Richard H. Driehaus Foundation.
Fresh Dirt, the deep South’s newest artistic collective researching practicing Surrealism in the 21st Century, will host an exhibition & creative soire’ in May! The collective is an offspring of previous incarnations, it’s member’s having originated activities as early as 1974 in Tuscaloosa, infamously known as Raudelunas, out of which birthed the first Birmingham group, Glass Veal and free improvisation pioneers of TransMuseq.
As the artists groups continued, the group has reorganized in 2017 as Fresh Dirt and is actively pursuing to connect artists who are practicing surrealist methods, conceptual theories, and influences in the 21st century. Fresh Dirt is drawing together from the core group to artists in neighboring communities the first Alabama Surrealist Sympatica, an Exhibition and Creative Soire‘ to be hosted by Art Town at Eastlake Station.
Along with the visual exhibition of artworks, there will be Surrealist inspired performances by the South’s most potent improvisers in multi-disciplinary exploration involving dance, music, butoh, poetry, and community collective art projects in writing and drawing, and mixed-media.
Artists are coming from as far as Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Georgia to collaborate and participate in the Fresh Dirt event. Many local artists are involved and participating in the Soire.’ The Alabama Surrealist Sympatica, an Exhibition and Creative Soire‘ will be attended by art historian, Steven Harris, University of Alberta, Canada who is writing a comprehensive history documenting Surrealism in the South (Alabama). The public is invited to experience Fresh Dirt, and participate in a Salon style evening of living art, imagination, discourse, and practicing methods of Surrealist Inquiry.
The reception will feature inedible food.
LaDonna Smith: As I step on a mass of meat on the sidewalk, it sucks me right into it, like quicksand! I struggle to break through only to be seriously sinking. Before I know it, I am like treading water, but it is really wine! I am getting a little tipsy from the bouquet, and certainly a few accidental gulps. Delirium consumes me. I wake up laughing at my now pink clothing, and join the circus of fashion, but the runway becomes another fine slab of red meat. Exercise repeated. I credit my predilection to red wine on the sudden appearance of meat and my inability to escape its inevitable hold on me. I manage its avoidance by unforeseen appearance of nut crackers and indulgence in blue beer! Life is marvelous!
Richard Smiley: It is a boon. I pick up the pulsating mass of meat and eat it raw, because that is how I and the citizens of this city receive their sustenance: from the masses of meat that randomly fall from the sky only along this one street.
Tim White: I cry with joy and recognition. The meat is my soul. I pick it up, open my shirt, and shove it back into the hole where it belongs.
Tori Lion: It turns out that the fleshly lump is the beginning of a long, slimy esophagus that latches onto my foot, slurps up my entire body, and then deposits (or, perhaps, defecates) me in a labyrinth of pretzel-shaped catacombs lying underneath Toronto.
Brett Petersen: The mass of meat splinters into an army of teratoma soldiers and they jump into everybody’s mouths and convert their cells into cancerous matter. Before long, the whole world becomes cancer and in fact, planet earth itself becomes one giant teratoma.
A Green Ceramic Creature signed “Sharon MacDonald, H., 1914”
This object seems very good for what it is. On the one hand it is clearly dog, but on the other, it isn’t at all. It is quite smooth and green. When I first glanced it, I assumed it was something more particular. My brain must have filled in the gaps, for unlike most objects, the more I looked at it and handled it, the less I understood what it was, and the more general it became. Perhaps we can tentatively term such rare things as this as Universalizing Objects. Something like a thing, but then it seems to drift from the specific into the ideal. Nonetheless, it tastefully freezes itself before it quite reaches the stage of intellect, and remains matter. There is nothing more cliché these days than a mere “imaginary object”, and so I am glad this thing stuck it out in the concrete. On the bottom it is dated 1914. A harbinger of war? I like its colour. We can only hope there will be more of them forthcoming. Will there be? Time will tell.
A Leaky Amulet
Price: Found on the street
This is a medium-range generalizing entity that won’t set you back too much and that will get the job done. Its peculiarity lies in its general bottle shape. Nonetheless, it is a two-dimensional bottle, and most strikingly, has a series of irregular cut outs in its body, reminding one of either geological extraction of fossils or a very abstract game of “Operation”. It certainly grabs the attention of passerby, but you’d be surprised how many people won’t even stop to pick up a shiny gold object when others are watching. The more one considers it, the more one wavers between choosing: is it a functional frame, or an apotropaic amulet? Metallic-gold seems to be the only option available, although some wear along the edges suggest another colour could be drawn out of it if you aren’t afraid of customizing your universalizing object. Is it handsome? Not really. Does it remind you of an eye or a hand? No, perhaps a microbe or a molecule at best. Nonetheless, for what it promises, it certainly delivers. Worth picking up if you get the chance.
An Empty Location Device
If you don’t already have one, you definitely need to get yourself one of these. In the technological world we live in there are few things which capture the spirit of concrete obsolescence so eloquently and yet are so relatively ubiquitous in junk shops (for the moment, at any rate). The basic mechanism is to select a letter with the golden pointer, and then press the lever. The object will spring open to an empty black zone, revealing ever the same text: PENCILIST, Model “E”, General Binding Corporation etc. etc. (One is especially struck by the idea of a General Binding Corporation, which speaks to a Hegelian progression, but also of the “general binding agent”, in an alchemical sense). Perhaps once it contained names, addresses, secret poems, dream accounts. Certainly it contained area codes and “bates” (The Bates Motel? Or is there some elision in ‘bates?). The most striking feature of this model, missing both its dividers and its pages, is the ability to experience the (shall we say quantum?) differences of so many possible realities—from A to Z, as it were—and yet experience no qualitative change in result. Yet. The mechanism of shutting and opening the lid, hilarious little coffin of the office, leaves a wavering gap in the certainty of the operator. Who knows if certain occult combinations of letters chosen might one day result in the appearance, on the inside, of something else?
It’s worth announcing two new French books for 2018 (and that will shortly be available in Québec):
To start, the first ever reprint of surrealist poet Pierre Peuchmaurd’s Plus Vivants Que Jamais, (with an introduction by Joël Gayraud) published when he was 20 years old shortly after May ’68:
“Just between two cobblestones passed from one hand to another, amid the swirling of our sweat, we come to understand that what we are doing is serious, that this night is unparalleled, that we have not really lived until now, that we hold the dream between our fingers: it is cubic and gray, it is red and black, it has the necessary weight, it is reality. And it is true, this night, that we have remade the Commune. It’s to the commune that all of our thoughts turn.”
And we should of course mention the new book of aphorisms from Joël Gayraud himself, La Paupière auriculaire:
“Harassed by the noise and cacophony of the media, contemporary man is threatened with mental and emotional deafness. He has the greatest need to interpose a protective eyelid between his ear and the deluge of information that assails him. Only then can he filter what makes sense and deserves to be considered. Practicing this selective listening, the author questions, in the form of fragments ranging from aphorism to small essay, all that, one day at a time, solicits his vigilance or his reverie: among other topics addressed are the meaning of the myth, utopian projection, the passion of love, our relationship to animals and nature, the status of the object, language and the book, artistic expression, from Corot to Street art, from Kafka to Rimbaud , not without some philological and philosophical excursus on the side of Spinoza, Leopardi and Levinas. An ironic and critical drift that targets the increasingly numerous impostures on the market and exalts the opportunities for wonder that unfold in the interstices of a life led under the sign of poetry.”
Joël will be presenting both books on May 5th at the André Breton house in Saint-Cirq La Popie.
L’OUVERTURE DE LA CHASSE
A Jason Abdelhadi
Il n’y a pas qu’en ce pays que les bonshommes de neige
font la courte échelle aux corbeaux
pour qu’ils plantent d’étranges fleurs sur les nuages
et des herbes et des lianes et des cactus et des dents
de loups montées en collier par les gens de Lascaux
J’ai grand souci de l’altitude de là où l’ivresse des cimes
me conduira sur un radeau de bambous parmi ces gens
qui ont apprivoisé mes rêves comme tant d’autres
ont su coucher par écrit leurs dernières volontés
sur une feuille de nénuphar arrachée au calendrier des postes
Mais s’il fallait ne serait-ce qu’un instant jeter l’ancre
parmi ces gens du peuple minéral je la lancerais
de toutes mes forces au-delà de toute mémoire
dans un trou comme il s’en creuse chaque jour
dans les flammes du temps qu’à la suite des reines
embaumées dans le blanc jardin du Luxembourg
les mères du zodiaque habillent d’ivoire et de corne
comme des cibles semblables à des mandalas
– Guy Girard, 9 février 2018
BEGINNING THE HUNT
To Jason Abdelhadi
It is not only in this country that snowmen
give a boost to crows
so they can plant strange flowers on the clouds
and herbs and creepers and cacti and teeth
of wolves mounted on a necklace by the people of Lascaux
I am quite worried about the altitude where the intoxication of the peaks
will lead me on a raft of bamboo among these people
who have tamed my dreams like so many others
who were able to write down their last wishes
on a lily pad torn from the postal calendar
But if it were necessary even for an instant to cast anchor
among these kin of the mineral people I would release it
with all my strength beyond any memory
in a hole as is dug every day
in the flames of time after the queens
embalmed in the white garden of Luxembourg
the mothers of the zodiac dressed in ivory and horn
Like targets resembling mandalas
– Guy Girard, February 9 2018
We are wise. Within our third eye’s basin, we see
our enemies approaching
swinging sticks. See how
the moon slides between the branches, never once
catching her horns. How the crabs restrain the moon
when she is swallowed by the sea.
This is how we curse those who
raise their hand against us:
May the rain pour down on your head
whenever you are eating.
If you look attentively into the face of the moon,
you will see the word: MYSTERY written there.
It is she who causes it to wind. There is
no greater mystery than this.
How can a thing lighter than smoke
without a body
toss us around?
There are those who live without viscera,
heart or brain—
look to the water and wind.
There are those who live without souls
yet flourish–look to the clouds. The crabs–
those children of discombobulation.
We have noticed other creatures are incurious,
whereas we hold the world in the deep well
of our reverence.
We have more words for the moods of the moon
than there are wings in the air.
More ways to say: PAY ATTENTION! than there are stars.
(It is we who invented astrology.)
Once we fell together with a terrible thud.
In that instant knew the moon had betrayed us.
What does a sex act involving no living organisms look like?
CC: The androgynous Chaos locked in eternal masturbation.
JA: A richter scale in action during a seismic event
CW: No one can see sex between the dead without spectral vision goggles and I’ve temporarily misplaced mine somewhere between Sierra Leone and the Atlantic coast of the U.S. It is rumored that the dead can still get pregnant and have babies during the full moon.
SK: Condensation on the lens of a telescope.
How does a jewel make love to a sponge?
CC: Clumsily and unsatisfactorily as the sponge is not impressed by hardness.
JA: By dissolving itself into soap
DC: As they please. Jewel crushes sponge, sponge smothers jewel.
CW: The jewel turns itself into liquid and falls upon the sponge to get it all hot and bothered and wet. However long it takes for the sponge to dry out is how long the love making lasts. The jewel returns to its proper shape not long after.
SK: A facet of its face clouds over from beneath.
What are your current thoughts on the birth process, and do you prefer an egg or a live birth for your offspring? What will you do with your placenta?
CC: An egg is infinitely better than live birth except that placenta is delicious, so if there is going to be a live birth, I will definitely eat the placenta.
JA: I would definitely prefer an egg, as the contemplative period of nesting would suit me very well for the reading of a few books I’ve been meaning to get to. Regarding the placenta, I would probably put it under my pillow to see if it has any effect on dreaming.
DC: Live birth is an evolutionary-bureaucratic compromise approximating superior avian, reptilian and insectoid procedures and will be superseded. Both placenta, the navel and breasts must be retained as charming follies. I will prepare my placenta with polenta.
CW: The birth process is a good metaphor for ideas bursting through the top of the skull. I prefer to give birth to an egg because they don’t cry and you always know when the creatures within are about to break through because you can feel the ground shake. There is no placenta.
SK: Birth is the end of death and the opposite, I have a return ticket. Offspring should choose. If I say live birth they will say egg. My placenta has been on holiday, it didn’t send a card.
Describe the characteristics of cosmic semen.
CC: The characteristics of cosmic semen are the characteristics of mankind as an emanation of the unconscious.
JA: Cosmic semen has a remarkable resemblance to a number of things appearing in the Jetsons theme song.
DC: Comets and meteors. The mysterious dark red interstellar traveller that recently passed through our solar system. Space dust that crackles in the mouth.
CW: Cosmic semen tends to fill the void with the consistency of pancake batter poured into a skillet. Within its micro-pores float a thousand varieties of photons, quarks and space dust.
SK: An arc of light in the corner of my eye.
Should we follow the example set by the noble gastropod and become hermaphrodites, replacing our genitalia with new and interchangeable objects of our choosing?
CC: Yes, we should seek to be both male and female. Where our bodies go, our mind will follow and this will help us embody the perfect androgyny of the unconscious.
JA: Absolutely we should. I would personally choose a turkey baster.
DC: Sexual fetishism in all its marvelous forms represents the beginning of this inevitable process.
CW: Should we become hermaphrodites, and should we replace our genitals with new interchangeable objects? Certainly, as long as we have the option to morph back out of those shapes as we desire and to make our genitals as big as a house, as long as a fifty yard dash, and as wide as Lake Superior, or as tiny as the buttocks of an ant.
SK: Calcium daggers are a retrograde step unless you are a Borgia or Medici in which case the slime is essential.
Which word involving some characteristic of the human sex organs do you find the most poetic?
CC: Clitoris has poetic potential, being the same material as the masculine penis, but organized into a feminine form.
DC: Quiff, derived from coiffure. Both suggest the archaic quim.
CW: The genitally related words that are the most poetic would surely include tumescent, turgid, throbbing, hungry, devouring, charging, sliming, spitting, and queefing.
Will pubic hair replace yarn in the crochet of the future?
CC: Being one step ahead of the collective in the crafting game, I have been aware for quite some time, that pubic hair is the finest material available for creating an number of crochet items, such as socks, scarves, blankets, and soft burrito coffins.
JA: Yes, if the necessary legislation is worded just right.
DC: No. Instead it will be cloned and cultured to create humane, luxurious fur coats, mufflers and hats.
CW: Pubic hair is no longer required as a designation of sexual maturity. Instead the genitals themselves will recite a Haiku when they are ready. The yarn of the future will be made from our thoughts alone.
SK: Crochet needles make pubic hair.
Would you prefer pollination by insect over human reproduction in its current incarnation?
CC: I would prefer pollination over human reproduction as long as the insect won’t suddenly demand my obedience.
JA: Yes, so long as it wasn’t a ticklish or stinging insect. Perhaps a slug?
DC: Why stop there? Instead, I propose symbiotic Cronenbergian invaders from within. Facehuggers and chestbursters.
CW: Pollination by insect, human reproduction: These things to us are but one.
SK: The insect shall inherit the earth.The Queue has started,their turn is after our orgy.
It was a truly beautiful and elegant store, oblong and wooden, with giant curved shelves of books stacked high, up and into a painted, domed ceiling. Titles ranged from the universally known to the utterly esoteric, and there were journals and postcards, and travel guides to all of the wonders of the world. There were multi-coloured lights hanging from the ceiling, in red, orange, and the deepest blue, and there was a countertop of solid oak, where purchases were made. The staff had (innocently enough) placed three small candles on the counter, and they glowed with the faintest golden hue, beautifying the store. But something was amiss; the candles were not as they seemed. Suddenly they grew to an enormous size, and colossal, mountainous arms arose from their sides – arms with deep-seated veins, and flesh of an otherworldly rose-purple tinge. With these arms, they grabbed each and every book they could lay their hands on, and they threw the books into their flames, destroying them utterly. They decimated works by Milton and Kerouac, annihilated the postcards and pens, and eviscerated travel guides on Amsterdam and Kolkata. In no time at all, the entire store was in ruins, and the staff were seen walking among the ashes, shocked and horrified. At this point, all faded into blackness, and I realized once again where I was.