Ted Joans' surrealist history lesson
Abstract:This article argues for the importance of Ted Joans within histories of surrealism, which seldom acknowledge the existence of the movement post-World War II or its participants outside of interwar Paris. Since the early 1960s, Joans contributed to both the Paris and Chicago groups of surrealists, who continued to proclaim the relevance of mad love, the marvellous, and dreams to a radical politics long after the movement was alleged to have deceased. The majority of the article, however, addresses Joans' work composed prior to his formal involvement with surrealism, exploring how his invocation of surrealist influence was framed by a narrative of surrealism's legacy of radical anti-colonialism and anti-racism to diasporic writers, artists and intellectuals such as Etienne Lro and Aim Csaire. Joans' work self-consciously embeds his engagement with surrealism within a matrix of transatlantic cultural dialogues which dislodge it from its supposed headquarters in Paris in the interwar years, undermines its profile as white, Francophone and bourgeois, and problematizes unilateral models of influence. Drawing on Surrealist aesthetics, his early work deploys modernist formal innovation as a means to reflect on the historiography of modernism, and performatively protests the unequal access to the political and cultural ideals of modernity.
Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: University of Manchester.
Publication date: 2011-05-01
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