Folkwang Photo Talk with Susan Laxton


Our Folkwang Photo Talk series will continue with Professor Susan Laxton from the University of California at Riverside. Susan will present on June 13, 2024 at 6pm at Folkwang University’s Quartier Nord. All photo friends are cordially invited! Susan’s talk will deal with

Photomontage 1931: The Proving Ground of Surrealist Communism

It has long been thought that there was little pictorial evidence of surrealism’s political positions, even from the period defined by the group’s testy relations with the communist party. But recently, evidence to the contrary has surfaced in the form of 35 collaborative photomontages made in 1931 by André Breton, Paul Eluard, and Suzanne Muzard. The images, constructed from fragments culled from the illustrated press in the shadow of the 1931 International Colonial Exposition in Paris, manipulate anti-imperialist themes aligned with communist ideology, but are structured to satisfy the surrealists’ commitment to ambiguity and interpretation, even during this period of intense political consolidation. As a proving ground for developing a sustainable surrealist communism, the images ultimately failed, but as pictorial evidence of surrealism's attempt to redirect communist cultural priorities, they testify to the power of photomontage in defining art’s social function outside of easy reductions to slogans and signposts.