James Gifford deposited An Improbably Moveable Mediterranean: translating, Transplanting, & Transforming Global Surrealisms in the group Interdisciplinary Approaches to Culture and Society on MLA Commons 1 week, 2 days ago
The Egyptian Surrealist Art et Liberté group was recuperated in two exhibitions beginning in 2016 and continuing through 2018. The larger exhibition by Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath emphasizes the group’s internationalism and the complexity of its engagement with various forms of Surrealism, including André Breton and Leon Trotsky’s 1938 manifesto as well as anarchist revisions to Surrealism initiated by Henry Miller’s Villa Seurat group that extended to the New Apocalypse in England and other English language writers in Egypt and America. The second exhibition curated through the Sharjah Art Foundation by Hoor Al Qasimi, Salah M. Hassan, Ehab Ellaban, and Nagla Samir instead stresses the group’s Marxist affinities and represents it as preceding the subsequent instrumentalist art of the Egyptian Contemporary Art group. Critical responses to the exhibitions have emphasized the Trostskyist tradition. However, the elision of anarchist networks distributing Art et Liberté’s work and of non-bourgeois notions of the individual limit interpretive opportunities. This article outlines how these complex political affiliations reveal that the group, like the Mediterranean Sea, was a point of connection to other global movements, periods, and ideologies rather than a barrier against them.