Thursday, November 16, 2023

Surrealism Against War - Ceasefire Now!

From its very inception surrealism has taken a principled stand against imperialism and war. As a movement it emerged from the embers of Dada, which was itself a reaction to the pointless carnage of the First World War. Its first intervention in the political arena was its denunciation of French participation in the Rif War of 1924. Since then it has always stood on the side of the oppressed, and against the oppressor.

As a movement surrealism supported social struggles around the world, and against the imperialist and militarist forces that were soon to drive the world into a second global war. After that war surrealists took part in the struggles against war in Indochina and elsewhere, and came together to sign a collective statement against the Iraq and Afghan wars in 2001/2. 

Today we see the Middle East in flames. We are told that Israel's murderous and sustained attack on Gaza is simply payback for Hamas's atrocities on 7th October. But we know that the roots of the conflict go much deeper than that. Israeli war crimes are bank-rolled by US capital, in payment for its role as the West's attack dog in the region. 

Gaza has been described by one Jewish Israeli historian as "the biggest prison on earth". Today it is being levelled, and its people are being indiscriminately slaughtered. The goal is ethnic cleansing and territorial conquest, a fact that is plain to see despite all attempts by the western media and politicians to pretend otherwise. We cannot stand idly by while a second Nakba unfolds. We must mobilise to force our government to stop underwriting the killing of innocent civilians, the butchering of children. We must join hands with all of those who are calling for an immediate cessation of hostilities, and for a just and lasting peace settlement in Israel/Palestine that secures the future of all its inhabitants. 



Featured image: 'Caveat Emptor' - assemblage with shell casing, Jay Blackwood 2023.

Thursday, August 24, 2023


 "Poetry will be made by all" - Isidore Ducasse, Comte de LautrĂ©amont

Surrealism is, above all, a collective adventure. The surrealists are, in the words of an early  manifesto, specialists in revolt, as well as compulsive players of collective games. Surrealists are driven by the revolutionary imperative to destroy the chasm between artists and poets on the one side, and consumers on the other. As LautrĂ©amont, a precursor and early hero of the surrealists put it, "poetry will be made by all". The great wall erected by capitalism between poets and alienated workers must be smashed with material hammers. Collective games and creative play are key means of accomplishing this. 

Surrealism has never been an art movement, much less a style of painting or writing. Focused on piercing the veil between dreams and everyday life, surrealism has always rejected the society of the spectacle which keeps most of us in chains, weighed down by what William Blake called mind-forged manacles. To break those manacles surrealists come together to make art, poetry and revolution. Breton summed it up as follows: 

'Change the world,' said Marx; 'Change Life,' said Rimbaud; 'for us, these projects are the same'.

Surrealists have used a variety of techniques - for example the game of Exquisite Corpse (see example above by Breton, Lamba and Tanguy) - to enable the blossoming of objective chance and to realise the revolutionary desire to collaborate on eruptions of convulsive beauty. Joint work has always been undertaken on the basis of elective affinities - that subtle attraction of like-minded individuals which is so much more powerful than the entry requirements of any card-carrying organisation. There are no card-carrying surrealists - only surrealist friends and allies who come together to play, make poetry (images, words, deeds), and to support all who struggle against capitalism, war and environmental destruction.

If you feel drawn to the surrealist idea, and to surrealist practice - or if you would just like to learn more  - then why not get in touch? Enquiries from anyone living in Bristol or the south-west would be particularly welcome - collective adventures beckon! Email your questions, dreams and proposals to:

"Let the dawn stoke up the rust of your dreams"

- Breton/Eluard.


Surrealism Against War - Ceasefire Now!

From its very inception surrealism has taken a principled stand against imperialism and war. As a movement it emerged from the embers of Dad...