Here we are, a young dance and theatre company, creating experimental, feminist works. Breaking boundaries, trying to find the limits of expression, looking to make our mark on this generation. Why, then, Surrealism? Why use this philosophy, nearly a century later? Are we yet another example of the everything’s already been done argument in art? I’ve been asking myself the same questions, as I try to better articulate our philosophy as a company.
We are referencing an artistic movement that has already lived its life in the public eye. Surrealism is old news. The world of art has moved on to other forms of expression. It seems pertinent to me, however, to further explore the possiblities provided by the Surrealist concept. Surrealism simply means above or beyond reality. So really, Surrealism is by definition limitless. Once you remove the limitations of objective reality (which probably don’t exist in the first place, but our brains tell us that they do), what’s left is infinity. This leaves us with the real challenge, which is picking out the most meaningful bits from an infinite number of possibilities of what to express and how to communicate it.
Another important issue to address is that of feminism within the context of Surrealist art. Although there were many female artists that contributed to the Surrealist movement (Leo Carrington is a personal favorite of mine, see the painting above), the big names, those we collectively remember as THE SURREALISTS, are, as per usual, men. In the writings of André Bréton, in the photographs of Man Ray, in the paintings of Joan Miró, Salvador Dalí, and René Magritte, we find an overwhelmingly male perspective. These artists seem to profit from the beauty of the female form without stopping to consider what might be going on inside. I’m not saying that these men didn’t love the women in their lives. In Bréton’s L’Amour Fou, he describes a deeply passionate love for that woman on that day with the sunflowers. Yet, history remembers the male experience of the Surrealist movement.
So what I propose is to give Surrealism a new, fresh voice for the 21st century. A female voice. Let’s explore what Surrealism means for women working through the medium of performance art. Beyond reality, beyond limits, because we probably just made all that up anyway.