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Surrealism

The Spookier School: (Anti-)Surrealism in Glasgow

This paper poses the question ‘What is Surrealism?’ from a particular vantage point: that of a practicing artist who has lived and worked in Glasgow since the turn of the twenty-first century. With reference to my own art practice, I will consider my troubled relationship with the category ‘Surrealism,’ as contingent with the specific trends of the Glasgow art-scene during this period and the broader international context.

In particular, I will address the apparent interest in surrealist methods demonstrated by Glasgow-based artists in the early 2000s (in opposition to the neo-conceptual and relational aesthetic genres that had placed prominent Glasgow artists on the international map in the previous decade). Whilst acknowledging the value of research into the historical surrealist movement (for shaping a more rigorous understanding of my practice), I will also recount my frustrations with the movement as they emerge in two areas: doubt regarding the ‘revolutionary’ power of the unconscious, and the potential valorisation of ‘linear’ narrative thinking – even in the domain of the ‘fantastic’. Read more →

Where Dalí Meets Disney

In 1945, after a chance encounter with Disney at a cocktail party in Hollywood, Salvador Dalí was invited to collaborate on a short animated film entitled Destino. The project was eventually terminated in its preparatory phase, but a whole array of conceptual paintings (executed by Dalí himself) remained in the Disney archive, and, in 2003, the Walt Disney Company hired a team of French animators to complete the film based on the surviving sketches.  This was the version that toured in a number of highly publicised exhibitions, including the retrospective ‘Dalí and Film’ staged at the Tate in 2007, among other international venues. Read more →

(In)Edible Beauty

We do not begin with a siren singing (that comes later) but with a human passenger in want of his sea-legs.  In the opening scene of Walt Disney’s cartoon version of The Little Mermaid (1989) (amidst a range of nautical-themed pratfalls), the Prince’s comic old retainer balks over the side of a galleon, his face coloured a septic shade of green. Read more →

Of Mice and Brides

The mind which plunges into surrealism relives, with glowing excitement, the best part of its childhood…From childhood memories, and from a few others, there emanates a sentiment of being unintegrated, and then later of having gone astray, which I hold to be the most fertile that exists. (Breton, 2010: 39-40)

Andre Breton, ‘The Manifesto of Surrealism’, 1924 Read more →