An astounding coincidence as unearthed by JA, SH, VL, L, and PP. Exquisite corpse comic, Nov 1, 2019.
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
“The Situation Today”
By PP, L, SH, JA
A game taught to us by our surrealist comrade David Nadeau of Quebec
Wherein a drawing is collectively made using predetermined piles of abstract words provided by each player and randomly selected in turn, in this case the words:
Pacified Soul Reaper
After which the result was deemed to be an esoteric political cartoon of the fellowship of the rosy cross.
July 4th, 2019.
P.S. We welcome any interpretations of this cartoon, its relationship to the world today etc. in the comments section.
The group has been in a fruitful period of “exile” since our favourite spot was closed for repairs earlier this year. Since then we have taken advantage of our rootlessness and have found ourselves in a slew of unfamiliar places, including an underpass, a junk store, a sex shop, and a flooded beach. And on May 17, it was suggested that we meet in the winter garden of the Royal Ottawa Hospital, our local mental health institution. Here we knew through experience and friendships that we would find, despite the disciplinary clinical oversight, and in addition to some interesting artistic creations on display including a few known collaborators, an atmosphere and community of people far more sympathetic to our games and discussions than is typically met with in public cultural spaces.
In this location we (JA, L, PP, SH) explored a few ideas, starting with a folding game of drawing banal objects. The idea was to invoke a Duchampian irrational enlargement or alienation of everyday objects, the kind of ordinary household things Breton suggested might even on occasion have more poetic power than explicitly contrived surrealist objects. We then took turns with elaboration via captioning them with extravagant titles, hiding the original object, redrawing based on the last visible play and so on. The goal was to create a tapestry of analogical surprises from mundane reality.
Following this we wrote surrealist letters and replies to each other with much black humor and passion. Here is a sample chain that we found especially funny:
Your insipid storytelling is no longer welcome in our town. I suggest you take your spider-wife & leave before your children are encapsulated in preservative ooze.
Yours in caution,
After doing this grosse abnormal letter I’ll ingest a bucket of flies and spit them at your feet then my plan of becoming a venus fly-trap will be at hand!!!
I think that I am in love. Poetry of the grotesque is the most true to the human spirit, and I am inspired by your words to quilt in your honour. Mark my words, your puppy will have a new bed by this Victoria Day.
I know love and all its late orchestral movements. Its requiem. I bought the puppy you speak of and he died to “God Save the Queen”. His tombstone erect as Eros, the epitaph mercurial as semen.
We then played a game of “interrupted speech”, derived from a game described in La civilization surréaliste, where players write automatic texts while another periodically interrupts with a word that must be incorporated by all the players.
Finally a discussion about dreams and quantum physics which (naturally) led to an inquiry by L on the perfect orgy:
L chose a heaping puppy-pile of effeminate ladyboys. When asked how many of himself L the narcissist would consider sufficient for an orgy, infinite was preferable but three would be a minimum. Would they be exact copies? Perhaps not but they would not aim for visual variations and would enjoy wearing the exact same costumes. It occurred later that Gemini season was almost upon us.
SH described a single ideal boy, eyes like spaghetti, a nose like a beehive all percolated, dispensing sugary earl-grey tea which SH laps up periodically, and this figure multiplies itself like a centaur, except instead of a horsebottom it’s more boy, chained in ever longer repetitions, until the sufficient number is reached for an orgy.
JA chose a highly charged erotic ceremonial mass decoration of a 800 xmas trees with analogical objects until one hits a tantric orgasm. The goal is to extend eroticism beyond the stereotyped parts of the body, beyond the body itself, or rather an extension of the body into poetic objects which can transmit poetic bursts of resonance (psychically) back to the participants. With years of preparation there is no reason this couldn’t be achieved with humanity’s current capabilities.
PP chose a visitation in a cell from an unspecified number of invisible succubuses. Light, and the warmth of five hands on his chest. But also an overdrive of sexuality that prolongs the experience beyond ejaculation and ends with pain.
Looking at these games retroactively we might even interpret them as ridiculous attempts at reconciling ourselves with our homeless state: the idealization of homely nostalgic objects, the bureaucratic correspondence of reality cluttering up the work of those seeking a new path in the rootless world, the interruption of chance events in even the most internal monologizing—a core characteristic of the exile state—and finally the dream of excess and gorging in the future orgy as a revolt against enclosure of actions and feelings.
SH brought up the concept of a terrarium which we then filled with odd objects—thimbles, silhouettes of friends, mollusks, eels. This resonated eerily with the “open glass” architecture of the garden, which definitely felt like a kind of aquarium for the mad. We also looked at the art on display of the patients, including some striking mytho-Egyptological work by Oziput, and some amazing, actually “poetic materialist” photographs interpreting tree parts by the appropriately named Sylvana Beaulieu—including a shot of what looks like a seahorse emerging from a tree stump, and a wizard found in a knot of wood.* So the aqua-terrarium fills itself up.
* It wasn’t easy to get a good picture of these images in the display case and we’re not sure how best to contact the photographer to ask permission, so we’ll refrain from posting them for now…