La Sirena is a small group of surrealists that formed during the Covid lockdown. Members include: Doug Campbell, Taya King, Daina Kopp and Darren Thomas, who are located in England, Scotland and the United States. Meeting once a week via an online platform, they produced a manifesto, shared research, made collaborative art and managed a collective excursion to a group of islands off the coast of Italy. All without leaving home.
In our initial manifesto discussions, La Sirena was suggested as a space, something that we all responded to, which led to the question, what kind of a space is it? (Dimensions, climate, ecology, government, natural resources, ethnic groups, languages, arts, sports, cuisine…) Where do the sirens meet? Where do we go when we meet?
We suggest that this meeting place is not a virtual place that may be defined in terms of applications, bits of information passing through wifi and routers, but instead a space created collectively. The kind of collective space that has always existed, ever since it was simply any cave deep enough to hide the sun. A space that exists in the minds of friends in a way that is as real as the spaces in which we eat and sleep, as the recurring memories and dreams of familiar living spaces, homes, institutions and landscapes. It is the dwelling place of the third mind that exists when two do creative work together…or the fourth mind, or the sixth and so on. It is the shared memory palace of George Du Maurier’s Peter Ibbetson (1892).
Describing these temporary zones as ‘virtual’ is to miss the point. They exist in shared experiences and understanding, the kind of conversation that you pick up after decades without missing a beat. It might be a cafe, a bar, a nightclub, a phone call, a fanzine, even the type-written amateur press association mailings of the nineteen thirties. As much or as little as that. When it matters it is the space of poetry as much as the poetics of space. To travel to such a space, at any time, regardless of circumstance, is not nothing. To travel through surrealist space to a surrealist place is always an adventure.
In a group meeting, it was proposed that we name our shared space ‘Sirenusa’, after a cluster of three big rocks off the Amalfi coast, one of the many reputed homes of the sirens, the inspiring muses of La Sirena. It emerged that Rudolph Nureyev (Russian ballet dancer, choreographer and actor, 1938-93) had owned and lived on one of these islands towards the end of his life. These and other associations were enough to set the imagination of the group on fire, in a frenzy of creativity documented herewith.
Maurier, G. D. (1892) Peter Ibbetson. London: Osgood, Mcilvaine.