Exotic souvenirs of the travelling Surrealists

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Abstract

Almost all members of the Surrealist movement were concerned with identifying, collecting, displaying and revering certain types of 'things'. Surrealists used objects from other cultures as a means of transgressing or reshuffling the orders of Western classificatory systems. By deliberately juxtaposing different cultural realities, they believed they could bring into question the very nature of our own reality. Many Surrealist works are concerned with a collage-like fragmentation and realignment of cultural norms. Both Breton and his close friend and Surrealist associate, Paul Eluard, amassed large collections of ethnographic objects in the 1920s and 1930s which were put together from wandering around the flea markets, from dealers' shops, auctioneers or through contact with travellers arriving back from abroad. Hopi culture in particular began to fascinate many of the Surrealists in exile. Collecting exotic souvenirs became a crucial activity for members of the Surrealist movement, and perhaps for Breton, a complete obsession.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSouvenirs
Subtitle of host publicationThe Material Culture of Tourism
EditorsMichael Hitchcock, Ken Teague
Place of PublicationFarnham
PublisherAshgate
Chapter6
Pages72-77
Number of pages7
ISBN (Print)9780754610557
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

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