September 20, 2014
Refuge in Manhattan

We make our own geography as we go.

Displacement as the sense of being out of one’s element or as the sudden encounter with the marvelous.

-Poets can be displaced as in refugees.

-Poems can be displaced as in books.

-Man is displaced as in life.

Knowing that you are displaced, a void which is filled becomes orientation/disorientation in foreign sounds and pictures.

A fish out of water – a displacement of objects as we become objects for someone else’s subject.

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1942 can read as 1492.

Pretty much both years were identical- war raging in Europe, hatred of people fueled the ovens of the State, human life was worth less as markets inflated profits and wages died of starvation. And just like Columbus searching the horizon for a new world, Andre Breton landed on the same shores escaping the madness that soon enveloped this land also.

Mr. Breton was pushed out of his house by war, these countless wars that pass over this earth like grazing bison feeding on human grass, human water, until there is nothing left and they move on.

Next stop New York City

nowhere

W.56th St was my last lead. My informants had sightings of him there in a French restaurant talking to Marcel Duchamp. But every time I went there the waiter informed me that he hadn’t been there that day, or that I just missed him.

Late in the day I heard his voice on the short wave radio reading propaganda (that I knew he neither wrote, nor believed) to the Francophiles who had a Nazi jackboot on their necks.

I knew that V.O.A. had their studios on W.57th St. but again, every time I got there it wasn’t his day to work or “He just left here.”

The doorman mentioned that his attitude was grim, his wife left him for another man taking his little Aube with them, leaving him alone and empty inside his apartment.

Also, there was no interest in surrealism in this land and the attitude of artist and poets, with a few exceptions, left him with a dry film in his mouth.

I decided to go back to the restaurant.

Once again the waiter said not today. I gave myself a rest from walking and ordered a drink. The guy came back with my glass and a few scrapes of paper and sat next to me. “He left these here last night.”

I opened them up and saw that they were poems, drafts written in green ink that looked more like weak tea water than ink. I asked if I could keep them. The waiter got up looked at me and shrugged his shoulders in agreement.

Taking the papers I went out onto the streets and headed back to Alphabet City for the night.

1946 brought the end of the war to America. Victory under a mushroom cloud radiated joy and a new world order that promised the end of the madness, only to begin a new form of madness under two new false promises of capitalism and Soviet leadership.

Breton packed his bags and left the refuge that kept him entertained, but not amused. With a new love and ideas for a last book that would attack the order of the cosmos under tarot cards, Fourier idealism and the promise of a new myth for humanity he returned back to Paris to help build a new road that would lead to a golden time, again.

Now here

I’m walking down 5th Ave. on my way to hang out with friends at the band shell. Along the sidewalk people sell their wares to those who have too much or too little. One guy near the statue of Jose Marti and Bolivar sells books of some value to people who know a bit more than the value of IBM stock that day.

Among the Camus and Tom Wolf crap is a slim volume of poems by Andre Breton which I pick up and buy for a few bucks.

“Young Cherry Trees Secured against Hares”

I knew of this book but never saw one copy for sell. I enter Central Park and sat by the rocks off 59th St. in front of the Essex House Hotel. I light up a smoke and sit back to read. Before I notice the day turned into early night and I finished the book before it is time to go back home for dinner.

Walking back I read the poems that stood out to me at that moment and I realize that I’m standing in front of the apartment building Breton lived in, and that I passed the same offices he read into the radio at and at that moment I realized how the world, life and poetry are all running in circles, overlapping and connecting at times that go unnoticed if one is not aware.

I’ve been looking for Mr. Breton for over thirty years without ever catching sight of his shadow- that long shadow casted on concrete and broken glass that makes the foundation of this city. This city both dead and alive, living in the past and future but never present, present like a child that stands in front of you but is miles away playing and stealing time, since time is the only thing children have to steal.

Andrew Mendez, 2014

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Filed under: andre breton 
August 11, 2014
New publications and events.

New publications and events.

August 1, 2014

Shards of Memory 14.1 from kathleen fox on Vimeo.

Shards of Memory 14.1, by Kathleen Fox. Fox notes on her site that “The delicate images that resemble doodles were created by directing light through pinholes onto a bowl of water lined with black plastic. These reflections were overlaid onto recordings of organisms in river mud” in a soundscape created by Johannes Bergmark. 

July 26, 2014
Irrational Daylight

image

My review of Surrealism and Photography in Czechoslovakia is up at Rain Taxi:

Photography has been unusually fruitful for Surrealist artists perhaps for an obvious reason—in denaturing sight it exposes the unconscious of vision. The image “Paris Afternoon” by writer/collagist/photographer Jindřich Štyrský provides a powerful example by the simplest of means. On first glance this black and white picture couldn’t be any clearer: a somewhat overexposed image of spider webs in a basement.

Read the full review.

July 16, 2014
Oasis Publications

Founded in Toronto in 1974 by Ludwig Zeller and Susana Wald on emigrating from Chile to Canada as a continuation of their publishing work in Santiago, Oasis Publications became Canada’s only surrealist publishing house and link to the international Phases movement. With a steady stream of exquisite hand-printed chapbooks of poetry, gallery brochures, and journal The Philosophical Egg, Oasis brought out works by Benjamin Péret and Paul Éluard, Arturo Schwarz, Édouard Jaguer, Anne Ethuin, Perahim, Jean Schlechter Duvall, and many others, often accompanying gallery exhibits in Toronto. Importantly, Oasis was to introduce Anglophone America to a number of a Spanish and French surrealist writers unavailable previously in translation. Susana Wald describes the atmosphere in their home office: “There wasn’t much in the way of furniture and when friends visited, as was the case for the collating and sewing of the book of proverbs by Éluard and Péret, which we produced in collaboration with Dreadnought Press, people sat on cushions on the floor. The beauty of the orchard, the vastness of the landscape opening in front of our windows, the pheasants and other birds filled us with joy and helped us to overcome our homesickness and relative solitude.” Zeller and Wald moved to Oaxaca, Mexico in 1994, where they continued their work.

Sources:

"In the Country of the Antipodes," by Susana Wald in the Surrealism in Canada issue of Open Letter (Summer 2013)

Dictionnaire général du surréalisme et de ses environs, edited by Adam Biro and René Passeron (Office du Livre, 1982)

Avant-Garde Canadian Literature: The Early Manifestations, by Gregory Betts (University of Toronto Press, 2013)

July 7, 2014
What Will Be at City Lights

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My review of Ce Qui Sera, What Will Be, Lo Que Será is now up on City Lights’ blog:

For the last 50 years the editors, Her de Vries and Laurens Vancrevel, have published and produced surrealist works under the Brumes Blondes imprint in Amsterdam, and their command of the field has enabled them to produce a definitive collection. Drawing its title from the statement in a 1947 manifesto, ‘Surrealism is what will be,’ the focus is determinedly on the present and future, on evoking new visions and highlighting new voices the vast majority of whom will be unknown to most American readers (for that alone, the editors have rendered a great service).

Read the full review

See the just-updated Publications page for more recent works.

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Filed under: brumes blondes 
June 26, 2014

Alex Fatta’s terrific stop-motion film-and-sound collages

June 14, 2014

From the exhibit La Chasse à l’Objet du Désir in Montreal.

June 10, 2014

From the opening night of the exhibit La chasse á l’objet du desir at Galerie Espace in Montreal curated by the Liaison surrealiste du Montreal and up until June 17.

May 25, 2014
Au Contraire, by Sotère Torregian

As the Whitney Biennial closes, Sotère Torregian’s protest (via Garrett Caples and Brian Lucas):

Manifesto AU CONTRAIRE: The Whitney Bienniale

To: Michele Grabner, Chicago Art Inst.
Zoe Leonard, artist, Stuart Comer Museum of Modern Art

Notarysojack, as Barney Stover says,
to unlock the mystery of Existenz
—1 April AD2014

There are no “Women Artists.” There are no “Men Artists.” There are only Artists who happen to embody one gender or another.

When I speak of Art I AM ART I AM AMONGST THE ARTISTS, those who are so-called.

Again, I AM ART.

That which I do is “Art.”

That which I write: “Everything I do is poetry.”

I remain French Surrealist and therefore, therefore, Ainsi Mesdames et Messieurs, Vide Napoli e muori!

I revive my dictum after so many years in abeyance: “C’est la guerre totale” Total Assault!

Your museums and galleries must open the door to the Maelstrom which is US.

A man walking outside in the pouring rain. Prendre d’assaut! – Faire d’Orage!

Artists of Colour? C’est l’Afrique C’est l’Ethiopie C’est le Dogon! There is the veracity of ART, in the true cradle of Civilisation. (Not the Tigris or Euphrates, — Sorry!) It’s Africa.

But if you would ask the Question: “What is Contemporary Art?” Ask, then, Africa; ask the Cameroun. Ask the Siné-Saloum!

One must enter the domaine of the oneiric.

—Thus, my absence from your midst is my Presence.

Art, what you call “Art” is going on beyond your conceptions—Au delà, Beyond the walls of your galleries and museums: Art IS HERE where I am. I speak it each day. In turn it speaks Ancient Egyptian, modern Bambara and Amhara. It speaks in every word André Breton ever wrote.

Thus, AU CONTRAIRE!

—Inscribed in the journals of Arshille Gorky; evidenced in the paintings of Gorky and those of Jackson Pollock.

It is they who lead the Maelstrom, the Siege of the Citadel.—Avant! Avant!

Yet despite all philistinism Je t’aime. JE SUIS L’ART.

I am sure Le Grande Artiste, the Cookie Monster, would agree with me.

Respondez s’il vous plaît

P.S.
My tall next door neighbor’s long lovely legs. I am sure the rocks are happy as she walks on them. Alors, même que je suis encore fatigué. Alas I am not a Czar so I can’t sweep her off her feet. She knows nothing about Art. She is one of the tribe of technophiles, digitalized.

But there goes Art (in her) although it knows it not—The Unknown, the Nameless One (I do not know her name or station in life)….but that she goes into a house and emerges therefrom,–onto the thoroughfare, past this window from time to time.

Now I am all silent. I recall the grand artist—pope of us all!—Jackson Pollock once declared he would rather cease talking with human beings altogether, in favor of expressing his communiqué solely in his art of painting. Bravo. I concur. Yet I persist with talk—talk—talk—when I should only write! And otherwise keep silence.

"And disguised I sat amongst you. And you wrapped
yourselves in different webs. Silently, you guarded
the rusty keys of the gates.”

—These words could have come from my own mouth but they did not. They came from the Russian Artist turned Mystic and Pilgrim, Nicolas Roerich, who migrated to the Himalayas to live his life there.—

For you who so tenaciously guard the rusty keys to the Gates.

—Sotère Torregian
1 April – 30 April AD2014

See Publications for information about Sotère Torregian’s The Age of Gold (Redux) from Rêve à Deux. Video courtesy of Brian Lucas, text courtesy of Sotère Torregian. For more about Sotère Torregian, see Garret Caples’ City Lights post.

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Filed under: sotere torregian