I find that periodic doses of surrealist art are quite healthful. It helps keep my pragmatism in check, which can sometimes reach dastardly levels that threaten the art.
This latest infusion of surrealism into my life could not have arrived at a better time. Various projects have wound themselves into awkward, wrenching stalls, and self-doubt was becoming rife. In a recent interview, author Claire Messud articulated something that has gnawed at me since art school and was starting to reach a fever pitch in my thinking: “…the choices that are necessary to make art…are choices to make something that doesn’t exist, that no body needs. … People might be glad you made it once you made it, but before you made it, it doesn’t exist. So what’s the point?”
And then Surrealism waltzes in, an arrogant and self-affirming partner-in-crime. This angst about creating isn’t even worth a dismissive nod. Of course one must create — of course this world needs more art! Chance, imagination, irrationality, humor — the salt of life.
Enter Emak-Bakia at the on-going San Francisco International Film Festival. Through “The Search for Emak Bakia,” another life is breathed into Man Ray’s 1926 cine-poem when Basque filmmaker Oskar Alegria sets out to unravel Man Ray’s use of the title phrase, which translates to “leave me alone” in Basque. Through a messy yet beautiful copulation of journalistic intent and surrealist chance, the film proceeds with the most liberal definition of an objective.
This film was thoughtfully recommended to me with my still fermenting Sweden journey project in mind. And, indeed!, it is wonderful fodder while working through the various motivations / objectives / plans for documentation for such a endeavor. Both projects take the form of a journey through travel and time. We cobble together our paths through an artifact-montage of our predecessors’ the journeys. We set out with vaguely held objectives, striving to remain open to chance. (Often despite “better” judgement.) And I think that my journey will be all the richer thanks to the work of Alegria.