Nothing that surrounds us is object, all is subject
January 6, 2013 12:02 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a source or reference for an obscure, half-remembered anecdote related to Surrealist art and photography.

When I was studying the Surrealists in a cinema studies program about (yikes) 20 years ago, I vaguely remember coming across an essay or perhaps just a statement by a Surrealist based on a rather innocuous photograph of a Parisian city block. For some reason I remember this being attributed to André Breton himself, but I really have no solid basis for that.

The point of the essay (or whatever it was) was that the significance of the photograph was not in what it depicted (the object) nor the subjectivity of the viewer, but in where the photographer/artist was situated when he took the photo. I, again, have a sliver of a memory that the location of the photographer in question was a cemetery, which you'd never know by looking at the photo itself.

The point of all this (I think) was to shift the focus of the work from the typical object/subject thing/viewer dichotomies and restore the position of the normally-obscured artist back into the mix. Those Surrealists - it was always all about them!

Anyway, I have an opportunity to use this anecdote - if it even exists - in a more mundane professional context. I realize that I have not provided a lot to go on here, but I have exhausted The Googles and any former colleagues of mine who might have remembered. I have seen miraculous things occur on MetaTalk, so I thought I'd put it out there and see what happens. My next step, I guess, is to score some hallucinogenics and try some "automatic writing" and see what happens.
posted by majorsteel to Media & Arts (2 answers total)
I cannot find the citation, but the Surrealists were particularly inspired by the mundane (street views, shop windows etc.) photographs of Eugène Atget and members of the group wrote abundantly about him (with pictures).
posted by elgilito at 1:55 PM on January 6, 2013

This is a very promising lead, elgilito. I do remember the Desnos article that both links refer to, and it makes sense that the photographer in question is Atget. I will read through what you sent more carefully and keep exploring that thread. Thanks so much!
posted by majorsteel at 6:28 PM on January 6, 2013

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