An astounding coincidence as unearthed by JA, SH, VL, L, and PP. Exquisite corpse comic, Nov 1, 2019.
“A time traveler jumps back in time to meet a colleague” – this sounds like the opening line of a joke, or a novel whose plot will work itself into paradoxical knots, but in reality it is a question. Or a series of questions. Which tense should be used? If the time traveler references the present, do they mean the time-point they left or the one they arrived at? If they are referring to a third person, at yet another point in time, what frame of reference should be used?
A culture steeped in time-travel, would require a whole new language: grammatically and syntactically unlike any other. This culture would not see time as “flowing” but as a something saltatory and harmonized, like beat-boxing. An elaborate dance with perfect synchronicity, but no plan and no conductor.
Presented here, a preserved portion of one of the most revered and seminal treatises of this culture. A meditation on the nature of reality and nothingness: The Vector of Malaniiät (this is our best effort to translate the meaning and phonemes into English)
– Sa’ad Hassan
Dear friends, taxidermists, lieutenants, and dachshunds of all stripes,
We would like to cordially disinvite you, your loved ones, everyone on the planet, and especially those of you with a smidgeon of non-conformist spirit in the Ottawa area, from attending the Ottawa Art Gallery’s new and sizzlingly contemporary hatchet job on Claude Cahun and Marcel Moore. From September 14 2019 to February 9 2020, you and everyone you know will have the rare opportunity to miss this circus of misinformation, re-appropriation, and elegant corporate sponsorship. We especially encourage you to avoid thinking about how the exhibition “positions” Cahun and Moore “in dialogue with contemporary artists”. It is also suggested that you resist the urge to “express an expanded range of identities” beneath the massive glowing green sign of Simon’s department store, the exhibition’s #1 sponsor, who will no doubt be eager to supply you with all of the accessories you need to express those identities fully and with style.
(Incidentally, isn’t it amazing how the white cube architecture of the Ottawa Art Gallery and Simon’s department store are almost identical, both inside and outside?)
We would also like to encourage museum curators, art historians and academics of all flavours to continue their clever game of re-appropriation and neutralization of surrealism in the privacy of their own homes, and not in the open, where they are more likely to get their unhygienic backwash on public assets. “Guerilla marketing?” We have to clean up after you, you know. While we are oh so pleased that you managed to “rediscover” Claude Cahun a good 80 years later than the rest of us, and that you have an incurable tendency to heave your theoretical effluvia all over everything that gives you the slightest prick of stimulation, we recommend treating this not as an opportunity to expose your indecent career growth to the masses but rather as a pathology which should be treated with the hushed whispers and concerned silences that it deserves.
We feel for you, we really do. We all smile and pat you on the head when you insist how your little show “challenges us to consider the ways in which everyday gestures, language, objects, and styles serve to construct and dismantle our sense of identity.” That’s very good. Did you write that all by yourself? Let’s put it on the fridge!
We ask that all real rebels, queerfolk, nonconformists, occultists, and other disenfranchised dreamers who cannot and will not accept corporate sponsorship and academic benediction into their lives to consider instead the living body of surrealism, and actual living surrealists, who continue the legacy of Cahun and Moore in their refusal to integrate with the speculative market-mess that is the contemporary art world. Fuck the vernissages and the theoretical jargon, there’s a world of chance and dreams out there to explore…
The Ottawa Surrealist Group
PS. Some recommended activities in lieu of attending corporate art shows:
- Staring down a sewer grate
- Starting a tooth-decay appreciation society
- Competitive door-punching
In celebration of all the wonderful careerists out there who never fail to take a hot second to promote their accomplishments, it’s the
Res gestae game!
Build a list of deeds, accomplishments, victories, etc. by each contributing one and then folding over. Afterwards, scrutinize the CV and provide a guess at the person being eulogized.
Played by JA, SH, L, PP
I became a creative masseuse by putting chopsticks in the ears of my clients while screeching “Harder? Harder!!!?”
My ears have electrical outlets. The voltage and shape conforms to the Slovenian standard.
I planted a tree at the center at the center of the earth at the center… I can’t remember. Trees…. Why… What did I do? It wasn’t a tree. I have a disease.
I challenged Dracula to a game of rock-paper-scissors and then threw in a cross.
-The Medical Education of Dr. Van Helsing
I tamed the screaming eyelash with a song of passion and flowers.
I used advanced gelatin mould making to form a wormhole into other times, galaxies, dimensions.
I designated the flavour that we associate with the color red.
I gave birth to ten mini-putt goblins who can fly by pooping.
-Deeds of the Galactic Amusement Park Designer
I made a circle with my fingers and squished the faces of my enemies while sitting in the relative safety of a coffee shop.
I was able to train 12 puppies how to dive underwater. The toilet flushed only 10 of them. Two survived.
I proposed a popular theory that overturned the big bang: the slimy lick.
I strangled everyone who’s ever stuttered, bringing sexual delight to many oppressed paraphiliacs.
-Memoirs of a Heroic Deviant
I performed the ritual of transubstantiation on the entire nation in order to get the polity to vote right last election.
I made the world’s most acidic tapioca pudding.
I became lord of the AutoZoids of planet Zearth.
I laughed in the face of a corpulent tuba player.
-Deeds of the Political Alchemist
I gave birth to a tangerine, an event which the press dubbed the “citroyen conception”.
I erased all the foul language from the world’s graffiti with my trusty foetus-cannon.
I asked for change and received a bag full of diamonds and spanish doubloons.
I can regurgitate plutonium spitballs at seagulls. When they eat them they explode chicken finger delights!
-Life of the Lucky Abortionist
I found a warm soft hole to crawl into at night while lolly-pop sucking any object I can find.
I won first place in a mirror punching contest.
I bought turkey dinners for every dog in the world.
I have the most rigid belly fat in all of Michigan.
-Hallelujah! I’m a bum
I have the flappiest foreskin amongst all the shriners.
I can drive a car with one wheel while in bed dreaming of NASCAR.
I made a romantic conquest using only a sockpuppet and my wits.
I produced every possible 10,000 character pamphlet.
-The Shrine-Keeping Shriner
I cured humanity of literacy using advanced computer hacking and social media brainwashing to convince them they were reading and writing.
I dangled my feet into the pond of emergent hilarity.
I became anxious while in a relaxation yoga class. That toad I licked made me see yogi bears on the mats.
I designed a pashmina made from living, enraged right-wing politicians.
-The Silicon Valley Identity Crisis
From L to JA:
I had some dreams last night that you were in.
You invited me to some local officer’s open house where they were giving a seminar on “creativity.” Men in ties were showing us to all these kindergarten tables on the ground where there were tombstones for dogs, like from a pet cemetery. We had to redesign them.
Next, we moved a room over till we were sitting on the ground. Using paste, popsicle sticks, and markers, we were told to design a religion for the tombstone we just made. The office worker explained that we were participating in a version of a surrealist game called “an exquisite corpse,” that had been made more professional for idea monetization.
You took the paste and poured about half the bottle one the paper so that the puddle was mostly all over the carpet. Then you then started to rail against all these people being shills as I tried to clean some of the paste off the carpet in case they noticed and made me pay thousands of dollars to get the room redone. We were mostly just dicking around instead of playing the games, so we walked out when I thought enough was cleaned that they wouldn’t notice.
Outside, we were about where the Rideau Center would be looking at Rideau street, but very high up. We were interested in finding our local spirits, which were likely eating out of trash bins in the local alleys, but also doing some random shopping.
Me and Jess had won hockey tickets to the Stanley Cup playoffs that we were encouraged to use. When we got there, we were made to ride in a gothic parade in which there were hot air balloons of women being abused by the grim reaper. The games were being held in that state that had banned abortions. In protest, the local team club had decided to empty the arena of all spectators for the game. Only a lucky thousand were chosen to watch the live feed sitting in several little theaters seating maybe seventy people at a time. The walls were made of wood and the decor was 70’s posh.
All spectators had been chosen based on media appeal. We were chosen because I was a mentally ill transgender artist, and Jessica chosen for being in a lesbian relationship with me. Our story was posted to the internet like everyone else’s as a sort of advertisement. Most people were women not much interested in the game. A large group of little kids faced away from the screen drawing in coloring books on their seats.
The only footage the audience at home would get was us watching the game with the screen in the background while interviewers got our thoughts on sports and the abortion law reality TV style. I did my best to actually watch the game in case my parents saw me.
You and me attended this event like one of PP’s mental health art things, but it was also a surrealist thing. We had trouble busing there, and were the only people to show up. The social worker in charge didn’t show up till late, after 10pm, and was having a break-down from her job at the hospital. Her mascara was running from crying. I decided to leave.
The next day, at a gathering for the animation program at Algonquin I was attending, they showed dozens of complex, highly finished artworks produced overnight at the group after I left. These included video installations a huge sculptures made of intertwined cords of colored material. I was jealous none of my work was on display.
(sent August 1, 2019)
The canal has extended its feelers into pleasant nighttime excursions which are really quite dark and not very well-lit at all. The atmosphere can shift dramatically and the passage in facing certain maudlin streetlamps gave birth to an appendage, a “subjectivity” of a most evil looking sort, a kind of shadowy figure who sings snatches of incomprehensible tunes to itself as it sharpens something very dangerous. We call it the nightprowler. Over the canal it has total jurisdiction. Past Pretoria Bridge, on the east side, where it is especially dark, it makes plans. Recording the crunching sounds of footsteps in the underpass.
During the day, in certain parts of the canal, the green hue of the seaweed and the algae and whatever else is down there tend to evoke strange jungle landscapes. Analogical green. At the theoretical level: surrealism as interruption, surrealism and the lost art of “lodging a complaint”, beyond observation and into reportage. The implications of a weird and untimely hypnagogic review of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” in a way that nobody we know would ever do it. The possibility of criticism from elsewhere.
On a hot afternoon, a local theatre played an old black and white film. A handful of people were watching it, clustered mostly in the centre of the theatre. In this otherwise typical thriller movie there was a very effective seance scene. The rhythm was slow, the patience of the director made a lot of sense, so the mood was perfect. Don’t we have every reason to believe that, in such a scenario, the sporadic audience is participating as much as those gathered around the table? And in that split second where expectation holds its breath and something “happens”, it would be a good chance to photograph the inside of our brains for posterity.
Bunuel, Jean Rollin…The idea of riots in the cinema. A temptation to ask people if they have ever seen such a legendary occurrence.
A lithograph of Matta’s “Les Voix” (#2/40) was found for sale at the antiques market. At 1200$, we wonder who will buy it. It is a charming comic strip of yellow and blue mania, and would sit very badly above the mantlepiece of many a Kanata home. Next to it were some very banal landscapes, and a few dolls and toys, which seems like a nice way to present images that are important to surrealism. It is an effective interruption of the standard bits and bobs you see floating around (and you can see some responses to a 2018 inquiry recently published on that very subject). A small statue of an Egyptian deity with an elongated, perhaps crocodilian head continues to remain unsold in a locked glass cabinet perpendicularly facing the Matta print. There is also an old baby pram within which a violin and guitar are nestled together taking a nap and dreaming unheard of concerts.
What are we all doing? Why don’t we jump off the peace tower?
L had some very vivid dreams involving JA partaking in surrealist activities, including a very striking oneiric collaboration on some tombstones for pets. AC on the contrary reports dreams that are more apocalyptic in nature.
In Templar Solstice Park, known for its overall nationalist banality, music. But not the normal music you’d expect to hear from the nearby bar. This is 1920s tango, straight out of a Bunuel film. Yes, it is even crackly. What? Are these strange people really dancing to this, on a black platform, sweltering day? It induces a lot of strangely loving feelings. There are still nice surprises. Not long after, a mayfly molted on someone’s leg and left its old skin in a very pretty position on his knee. Did we mention that When Rabbit Howls was being read?
On the street, overhead: “I always get the last laugh”.
An image struck, too, of the interminable summer, from a randomly opened children’s book. Four glasses of lemonade. Each one has a straw that loops, and loops, and spins, like an insane labyrinth, making almost letters, almost faces, interweaving and disconcerting. A maze for refreshment. An athanor, or anathanor? Bubbling. Is there really only one right choice for the perverted clinamen of libido? “This is not my idea of a good time; this is not my idea…”