Exploding Appendix Program 2023 (January to June)
December 30, 2022
Rap Music, Censorship, Abolitionism and Radical Listening: A Live Conversation with Wanda Canton (Online and in Person — 7th February 2023)
January 4, 2023

Remade In America: American Surrealism. A Live Conversation with Joanna Pawlik (In-Person and Online – 17th January 2023)

“Surrealism means revolution, not spectator sports.”

 — protest slogan used outside the Dada, Surrealism and Their Heritage show in 1968

Surrealism was a radical art movement that emerged in the 1920s, and  inspired by psychoanalysis, deployed artistic methods aimed at allowing the unconscious to be expressed with the goal of a revolutionary transformation of society. Although Surrealism was international in scope, it was Paris, and the figure of Andre Breton that has generally been placed at the center of dominant historical accounts. These are often accompanies by a periodisation that places Surrealism as beginning in the 1920s and dissolving in the 1940s. Pawlik’s Remade In America: Surrealist Art, Activism and Politics 1940-1978 can be seen as part of a broader scholarship that challenges these spacial and temporal demarcations of Surrealism, showing it to have traveled across the world, and extended into the 1960s and 70s.


Remade in America also challenges the position that Surrealism was unable to take hold in America, dominated, as it was, by Abstract Expressionism. Pawlik explores a more complex and dynamic reception of surrealism in America. Discussing the controversial Dada, Surrealism and Their Heritage show that was curated in 1968 by William Rubin for MoMA in New York and “put forward an institutionally sanctioned version of the movement’s history in the interwar years”. Pawlik describes the protests that emerged outside and offered a different interpretation of Surrealism.


“…a series of artists, activists, and writers seized the movement, implicating Surrealism in far reaching challenges not just to modernism but to inequalities within modernity more broadly. From the streets outside Rubin’s show, protesters threw stink bombs and paraded placards declaring “Surrealism means revolution, not spectator sports.””


Pawlik’s book explores a history of Surrealism in America that embodies this motto. This is a Surrealism emerged outside of, and antagonism with, dominant American institutions. Pawlik takes us on a journey through Charles Henri Ford’s queer reinvention of surrealism through posters and publications and its overlaps with pop art; the reception of Breton’s Nadja in America and its importance in relation to autobiographical Beat writing; The African-American Surrealist Ted Joans and the relationship between Surrealism and civil rights movements, Black Power and the Black Arts Movement; the queer psychedelia of Brion Gysin, Marie Wilson and 60s counterculture; and the Marxism and antiracism of the Chicago Surrealists that developed out of the IWW and the beat generation.

This session will take place both online via Zoom and in person at The Artist Residence, Brighton, UK. The Artists Residence can be found on 33 Regency Square, Brighton, BN1 2GG. Join us in Venue from 7pm and online from 7:30pm (UK time). To book a free place in the venue, click here. For any questions, please message me at explodingappendix@gmail.com

This session will be run as part of the Exploding Appendix Avant-garde Art Practice and Research Group’s meetup which happens every three weeks. The sessions are free and open to everyone. For our upcoming sessions from January to June, see here.

The online session will also take place via Zoom (https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85307248422?pwd=bER2cW96L1ViSHpZeHBnR05abytxZz09). The meeting ID is 853 0724 8422.  The passcode is “710293”.

This session will be run by Bradley Tuck and take place on Tuesday the 17th January 2023 from 19:00 – 22:00 (UK time). If you have any questions, please message me at explodingappendix@gmail.com