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.
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
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.
The group went into a junk store on the night of the last full moon of the decade, the “cold moon”, in search of a sign. We found:
A phoenix-mask with a handle
An homunculus-golem-primate toy
A little wooden coffin with an ouroboros worm carved onto it
As an impromptu game, the group then went into a pub and each wrote an interpretive text about the objects in question. This resulted in an interesting “synoptic” set of variations on the myth, which, despite being unpremeditated, had striking affinities.
The mask of many colors is the name of illusion. Therefore it is the name of the world. Pippy Longstocking lived alone in the world and wanted a companion. She offered her hair to the earth, which imbued it with illusion. That is, brought it to life. The homunculus named itself Mr. Tree Climb and would berate Pippy day and night: you are alone. Thus her fear of herself was unconscious. She screamed at the world, “take back this accursed demon,” but a new voice answered “Nothing is capable of not existing. Reality and illusion, death, life and the non-state before life are all the same.” Thus the world was enclosed in an enormous globe-coffin bearing an ouroboros. The coffin slammed shut on Pippy and all she could hear was the terrible hissing of time.
The golem-primate emerged from the casket of the ouroboros. Its goal was to drink from the ladle of the phoenix. It was said that any liquid drunk from this chalice would grant an enlargement of the conk, which would allow the golem-primate to achieve its potential and understand all future corn markets. However, the ladle itself was sentient and wouldn’t allow itself to be drunk from without getting a word in edgewise:
“How many carrion birds can calculate the external properties of a coffin maker?”
The golem-primate could only reply:
“Numbers come in salt & pepper shakers, so I’ll order first.”
The ladle was more or less satisfied with the response and allowed the golem to partake in the drinking ritual. Whereupon the primate felt the immediate urge to sleep and returned to the coffin. It began to dream the whole scenario all over again.
The Life Chest
This box is used to place one’s dead childhood after beginning at one’s first full-time post-university job. Offerings of ritz crackers and apple juice are left inside. The ouroboros is actually just a normal self-cannibalizing snake meant to symbolize the self-harm of labor that defines adult life.
The Mask of Truth
Is used once one’s childhood is placed in the box. It is meant to be the Vessel holding the true adult identity. One is only themselves while wearing it. The rest of the time, one is acting. The leaves are spikes impaling one’s dreams in the hope of not losing them forever.
Is a protective talisman placed on a windowsill meant to drive away vengeful alternate reality selves bent on destroying you for having ruined the life of their brethren, your true self, which you usurp by living under capitalism. It wears a hair shirt that is made of intertwining nooses to show your assailants you are punished by living.
The coffin of the homunculus monkey transformed him into a powerful encapsulated mask creature. The powers to transpose time and bent realities with the song sung from its chamber. It creeps out on full moons to take the souls for the purpose of its self-preservation. The coffin was made by a Greek architect named Pablo the Woody*, a true craftsman in debt to the monkey for a human republic that he proclaimed from the Greek architecture of souls. The gift was that of a great oak tree to keep the homunculus spirit safe. The mask was made by the wife of Pablo Woody, her name was Maresoda Woody. She used her witchcraft crafting the mask from a piece of oak. Its powers… potent.
*The pub we wrote the texts in was called “The Wood”
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?)
One white cube’s as good as another?
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: