A Spark in Search of a Powder Keg

Rebellion is its own justification, completely independent of the chance it has to modify the state of affairs that gives rise to it. It’s a spark in the wind, but a spark in search of a powder keg. – André Breton

If only one thing has brought me joy in the last few weeks, it began when the matriarchs at Unist’ot’en burned the Canadian flag and declared reconciliation is dead. Like wildfire, it swept through the hearts of youth across the territories. Reconciliation was a distraction, a way for them to dangle a carrot in front of us and trick us into behaving. Do we not have a right to the land stolen from our ancestors? It’s time to shut everything the fuck down! – Tawinikay (aka Southern Wind Woman)

Pacific Trails Pipeline Drillers Evicted from Wet'suwet'en ...
Zig Zag

The toxic cargo carried in Canadian pipelines, whether it be tar sands oil or fracked liquid natural gas (LNG), is, according to all serious climate scientists, a major, perhaps even decisive contribution to global warming, i.e. ecological catastrophe. Meant to fuel industrial expansion, the pipelines have themselves become fuel for revolt. Designed to move these dirty fossil fuels from one location to another, they are a crucial element in normalizing the dubious paradise of unlimited growth in awe of which all obedient consumer/citizens are supposed to genuflect. In what the colonial mapmakers have called British Columbia (BC), resource extraction has always been the name of the game. However, the emergence in February of this year of a widespread oppositional network ranging from “land back” Indigenous warriors to elder traditionalists and from Extinction Rebellion activists to anarchist insurrectionaries was heartening. Railways, highways and ferries were blockaded, provincial legislatures, government administrative offices, banks and corporate headquarters were occupied. The catalyst for this rebellion was a widespread Indigenous uprising that refused the illusory promises of reconciliation. Together, these rebel forces disrupted business as usual in solidarity with the Unist’ot’en Big Frog clan of the Wet’suwet’en tribal house.

​As objective chance would have it, the primary Indigenous land defense camp is situated not far from the same Hazelton, B.C. area to which surrealist Kurt Seligmann and his wife Arlette had journeyed in 1938. During that time, they visited Gitxsan and Wet’suwet’en villages, marveled at the imaginative power of the totem poles and ceremonial objects, made field notes, shot 16mm film, collected stories and recorded mythic histories. Now, in 2020, growing numbers of these same Indigenous peoples have been threatening to bring the Canadian economy to a grinding halt. Unwilling to be bought off by corporate petrodollars or mollified by a legal system that has never done anything but pacify, brutalize, or betray them in the process of stealing their land, Indigenous peoples passionately fought back against the forces of colonial law and order in a radical whirlwind of willful disobedience and social disruption. One action built upon another in creating a rolling momentum that seemed unstoppable. When one railroad blockade would be busted by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), another would spring up in its place elsewhere extending the frontlines of the battle all across the continent. Then the debilitating Covid-19 virus arrived to compound the damage that had previously been done to the capitalist economy by the incendiary virus of revolt. The resistance of these Indigenous communities against the pipelines concerns all of us, worldwide, since they are on the front lines of the struggle to prevent cataclysmic climate change.

​In the future, a key question will be whether Canadian authorities can successfully put the genie of Indigenous rebellion back in the colonial bottle of “reconciliation”. As surrealists, we hope they will not, and we stand in solidarity with the unreconciled insurgent spirit of defiant Indigenous resistance. A new reality is to be invented and lived instead of the one that today as yesterday imposes its environmental miserabilism and its colonialist and racist hierarchies. As surrealists, we honor our historical affinity with the Kwakwaka’wakw Peace Dance headdress that for so long had occupied a place of reverence in André Breton’s study during his lifetime before being ceremoniously returned in 2003 to Alert Bay on Cormorant Island by his daughter, Aube Elléouet, in keeping with her father’s wishes. With this former correspondence in mind, we presently assert that our ongoing desire to manifest the emancipation of the human community as distinctively undertaken in the surrealist domain of intervention is in perfect harmony with the fight of the Indigenous communities of the Americas against globalized Western Civilisation and its ecocidal folly.

Signed

Surrealists in the United States: Gale Ahrens, Will Alexander, Andy Alper, Byron Baker, J.K. Bogartte, Eric Bragg, Thom Burns, Max Cafard, Casi Cline, Steven Cline, Jennifer Cohen, Laura Corsiglia, David Coulter, Jean-Jacques Dauben, Rikki Ducornet, Terri Engels, Barrett John Erickson, Alice Farley, Natalia Fernandez, Brandon Freels, Beth Garon, Paul Garon, Robert Green, Maurice Greenia, Brigitte Nicole Grice, Janice Hathaway, Dale Houstman, Karl Howeth, Joseph Jablonski, Timothy Robert Johnson, Robin D.G. Kelly, Paul McRandle, Irene Plazewska, Theresa Plese, Michael Stone-Richards, David Roediger, Penelope Rosemont, LaDonna Smith, Tamara Smith, Steve Smith, Abigail Susik, Sasha Vlad, Richard Waara, Joel Williams, Craig S. Wilson
Surrealists in the UK: Jay Blackwood, Paul Cowdell, Jill Fenton, Rachel Fijalkowski, Krzysztof Fijalkowski, Merl Fluin, Kathy Fox, Lorna Kirin, Rob Marsden, Douglas Park, Michel Remy, Wedgwood Steventon, Frank Wright, the Leeds Surrealist Group (Gareth Brown, Stephen J. Clark, Kenneth Cox, Luke Dominey, Amalia Higham, Bill Howe, Sarah Metcalf, Peter Overton, Jonathan Tarry, Martin Trippett), the London Surrealist Group (Stuart Inman, Philip Kane, Timothy B. Layden, Jane Sparkes, Darren Thomas) and the surrealists of Wales (Jean Bonnin, Neil Combs, David Greenslade, Jeremy Over, John Richardson, John Welson)
Surrealists in Paris: Ody Saban and The Surrealist Group of Paris (Elise Aru, Michèle Bachelet, Anny Bonnin, Massimo Borghese, Claude-Lucien Cauët, Taisiia Cherkasova, Sylwia Chrostowska, Hervé Delabarre, Alfredo Fernandes, Joël Gayraud, Régis Gayraud, Guy Girard, Michael Löwy, Pierre-André Sauvageot, Bertrand Schmitt, Sylvain Tanquerel, Virginia Tentindo, Michel Zimbacca)
Surrealists in Canada: Montréal (Jacques Desbiens, Peter Dube, Sabatini Lasiesta, Bernar Sancha), Toronto (Beatriz Hausner, Sherri Higgins), Québec City (David Nadeau), Victoria (Erik Volet), the Ottawa Surrealist Group (Jason Abdelhadi, Lake, Patrick Provonost) and the Inner Island Surrealist Group (as.matta, Jesse Gentes, Sheila Nopper, Ron Sakolsky)
The Surrealist Group of Madrid: Eugenio Castro, Andrés Devesa, Jesús Garcia Rodriguez, Vicente Gutiérrez Escudero, Lurdes Martinez, Noé Ortega, Antonio Ramirez, Jose Manuel Rojo, María Santana, Angel Zapata
Surrealists in Sweden: Johannes Bergmark, Erik Bohman, Kalle Eklund, Mattias Forshage, Riyota Kasamatsu, Michael Lundberg, Emma Lundenmark, Maja Lundgren, Kristoffer Noheden, Sebastian Osorio
Surrealists in Holland: Jan Bervoets, Elizé Bleys, Josse De Haan, Rik Lina, Hans Plomp, Pieter Schermer, Wijnand Steemers, Laurens Vancrevel, Her de Vries, Bastiaan Van der Velden
Surrealists in Brazil: Alex Januario, Mário Aldo Barnabé, Diego Cardoso, Elvio Fernandes, Beau Gomez, Rodrigo Qohen, Sergio Lima, Natan Schäfer, Renato Souza
Surrealists in Chile: Jaime Alfaro, Magdalena Benavente, Jorge Herrera F., Miguel Ángel Huerta, Ximena Olguín, Enrique de Santiago, Andrés Soto, Claudia Vila
The Middle East and North Africa Surrealist Group: Algeria (Onfwan Foud), Egypt (Yasser Abdelkawy, Mohsen El-Belasy, Ghadah Kamal), Iraq (Miechel Al Raie), Syria (Tahani Jalloul), and Palestine (Fakhry Ratrout)
The Athens Surrealist Group (Sotiris Liontos, Elias Melios, Nikos Stabakis, Theoni Tambaki, Thomas Typaldos, Marianna Xanthopoulou)
Surrealists in Prague: Frantisek Dryje, Joe Grim Feinberg, Katerina Pinosova, Martin Stejskal, Jan Svankmajer
Surrealists in Costa Rica: Gaetano Andreoni, Amirah Gazel, Miguel Lohlé, Denis Magarman, Alfonso Peña
Surrealists in Australia: Anthony Redmond, Michael Vandelaar, Tim White
Surrealists in Buenos Aires: Silvia Guiard, Luís Conde, Alejandro Michel

Surrealists in Portugal: Miguel de Carvalho, Luiz Morgadinho
Surrealists in Bucharest (Dan Stanciu), Mexico (Susana Wald), and the Canary Islands (Jose Miguel Perez Corales) 

Postscript: During the process of gathering signatures for the above declaration, we were inspired to see its uncompromising stance against white supremacy and police repression reflected in the brightly sparkling flames of the Minneapolis uprising that lit a powder keg of pent-up rage and incited an earth-shaking eruption of spontaneous rebellion in the streets of America. It was only fitting that in solidarity with the uprising about police brutality kicked off by George Floyd’s execution/lynching at the hands of the police, anti-racism protestors in the United States would take direct action by beheading or bringing down statues of Christopher Columbus, genocidal symbol of the colonial expropriation of Native American lands. (Guy Girard, Michael Löwy, Penelope Rosemont, and Ron Sakolsky, June 15, 2020).

Start with Simple Pleasures

We who seek charms to push back against necrosis of thought say “no aeronauts without windshield wipers in this house! It’s unsanitary.”

Still, we reap our rewards at the end of a hard day’s treading water.

Old friends encountered bolster us with comments in sensible prose.

And so, we separate mirror language from anamorphist reduplication and aim instead for a productive redoubling in the realm of rock-pairing.

-From the journals of Klaus Kostenbauer, spontaneous overseer and fragment-theoretician of recreational greenspace along the Rideau River.

June 2020.

Old Mall


As old as tomorrow… With untold floors of FRESH exciting MERCHANDISE, exquisite fixturing, a large, easy-to-use PARKADE OF THE DAMNED and a fine staff of ATTENTIVE SALES ENTITIES… It’s OLD MALL! This volume presents the results of parallel surrealist expeditions to “old malls” in two North American cities. Undertaken in early 2020, these “gothic” experiences foreshadowed the closure of commercial zones throughout the world by a matter of weeks. Specials include:

The Mysterious and Somnolent “ZOPI”
The Skeleton in the Green Hat
The Ghost Hunters in the Bathroom
The Death Shroud Puppet Play
“Good Stuff”
The Street of the Unisex Image

And much more! Save or be saved at OLD MALL

PRINT VERSION: https://www.lulu.com/en/ca/shop/atlanta-ottawa-surrealist-groups/old-mall/paperback/product-1wkqkpw7.html


FREE DIGITAL PDF: https://tinyurl.com/u3x3j34

Long time no see…

JA, SH, PP, L, – messing around on video chat during our mandated misanthropy. Each of us chose and drew a corner simultaneously and then scanned it. Lake then combined them into a chimera-corpse. Maybe it’s a group portrait or a forgotten narrative of a meeting that could never happen.

March 24, 2020

Anaerobic Poems – M Forshage

One of the things introduced in our Object Beautician zine was the concept of “anaerobic poetry”. The theory is that withholding the breath while scouring the surrealist voice for interesting offerings might prompt a special urgency or dynamic to whatever short poem could be rattled off in that state.

Our friend M Forshage in Stockholm recently gave it a try, the results of which results we share below.

1
Seven spells of sausage rhymes
Automatically and intestine-wise
As if barking up a rare willow
One without the right kind of lianas and bare twigs

2
The insolent popstar
and his crew of battle squirrels
aimlessly through the milky void

3
Synchronise sadly
the breadcrumbs of inevitability
housing the future of death and other joys

4
Acclimatise the entire sorority
Make it migrate elsewhere
With several new songs
And whimpering flagpoles
And a dead rodent

5
Whenever a sad cat opens his trolley and the bad nostrils get their appetite satisfied our hands will keep shaking to salute the onslaught of birdrings

6
An intimate source of powerful negotiations is the dead strollers negating the countdown

7
Likewise, never asked you to perform this particular sample, odd as it is

8
My crossbow at the mercy of a thunderstorm and a bowl of sugar ne/

9
Defenestrate the essential countdown and make every consonant swallowed count as a feast of swift nests

10
Excentric into secrecy
the white foam of secrecy
exclusive formed by the moon
and its differences
all its differences



TerseFest 2020

In response to the distasteful advertising of certain overly loquacious events, the silent menace society of Ottawa have committed to putting on a new festival for the promotion of the retentive arts.

This year, TerseFest will be hosting some of the world’s greatest withholders, including:

  • Samuel Shh, Lost Word Wonder
  • Esther Pshaw who Never Learned Language
  • The Brow
  • Oooooooooo the Unsignified
  • Ernie Lacks and his Talking Tacks
  • Crayola the Amnesia Artist delivering her latest Unimonolog
  • The Order of Oats, who swore an oath involving oats
  • And with musical accompaniment kept very down to business by Give an Inch and the Hisses.

Don’t miss this opportunity to see Ottawa at its most inexpressive. Come be seen and not heard. 

Rattles and Drums


“Why are you scared of our rattles and drums?”

Words from indigenous youth and women marching for Wet’suwet’en, addressed to the heavily armed “lethal overwatch” deployed to monitor them. Last year’s Joint Statement with Inner Island remains painfully up-to-date with current events. I have within the last few weeks personally witnessed astounding bravery and living poetry in the defiance of indigenous youth fighting back for their existence.

JA

Ottawa, February 24, 2020

Check out the Wet’suwet’en supporter toolkit:
http://unistoten.camp/supportertoolkit/


And sign up for their newsletter to receive updates untainted by Canadian colonial interests:
https://unistoten.camp/support-us/newsletter/

(Photos taken from the Indigenous Solidarity Ottawa Facebook Group)

Valentine Manifestation

Tonight I was searching a video streaming site for something totally different when the giallo film The Perfume of the Lady in Black by Francesco Barilli came up in my results. Having just seen this recommendation from fellow surrealist DC online, I took the opportunity to watch it. One striking coincidence occurred. The film has a scene which features a music box containing a ballerina figurine, presented to the main character, Silvia, by an Alice-like incarnation of her childhood self. Silvia recognizes the figurine as one from her childhood because of its missing arm. The thing is… I had seen and photographed this exact ballerina figure in Ottawa. It was EXACTLY the same as one I had taken a photo of a while back while browsing a junk store. How exact? Not only the same make—the same arm is missing.


-JA, February 14, 2020

Photographed in Ottawa in May 2019