English-History of Art (2nd Year)
The Avant-Garde Functionality of the Surrealist Object
The essay I will present, which received 78 on The Avant-Gardes module (ARTF2117), interrogates the role of the Surrealist Object in avant-garde discourse. I argue that the likes of Man Ray, Meret Oppenheim, and Alberto Giacometti situated their practice in a critical relationship to normative modes of representation, thought, and subjectivity, thereby servicing the need for revolution at a fundamental level. This involves processes of metonymic abrasion, symbolic re-appropriation, and the subversion of creative agency by means of chance and contingency. Through close analysis of several works and reference to Surrealist literature and philosophy, I investigate how these processes function to enact the disintegration of predominant discourses in art and society, leaving the possibility of revolution open by exposing the arbitrary projection of reason as a human construction subject to the challenge of the new. In my presentation, I will discuss my research methods, the benefits and problems of adopting a narrow critical focus to approach wider concepts (such as the interface between art, society and politics), and my utilisation of close textual analysis within the framework of a wider argument.