La Sirena Surrealist Group Manifesto Statement
‘We catch surrealist dreams by the tail and don’t let them run away’ (La Sirena Surrealist Group).
La Sirena represents an inclusive meeting space for all those involved in the surrealist adventure, connecting academics, researchers, writers, artists, filmmakers and all those who share our vision, cutting across lines of age, nationality, gender, sexuality and ethnicity and so on. We have been meeting virtually on a weekly basis, since March 2021. Difference and Otherness are celebrated and the figure of the siren, like other monstrous hybrid identities that we are drawn to, underscores our belief in the notion that identity is not fixed but fluid, multiple, contested, shifting, in a state of eternal becoming: convulsive.
At the same time, we seek active engagement with the contemporary surrealist movement and believe that collective activity is crucial for surrealism. The notion of surrealism as a community of artist-researchers, combining artistic experimentation with scientific inquiry (surrealist practice as research) is a far more accurate description of what we do as surrealists – rather than as an art movement, for example. The films, paintings, collages, objects and other media we create are not separate, different or special from our other activities but evidence of an ongoing alchemical process, documenting our experiments, investigations and other forms of research, ultimately connected to a much wider political, philosophical and ultimately revolutionary programme.
Indeed, the intention is to devise and carry out collective research into the possible transformation of life and to study the energies released. The challenge is to create spaces, however small or fleeting, for the collective imagination to explore the possibility of transformation: ‘“Transform the world”, said Marx, “change life”, said Rimbaud; these two orders are for us one in the same’ (André Breton). We believe that Poetry should be made by all: it is ‘the collective experience of individualism’ (André Masson). The group is an expression of the input of the individual members and the individual is an expression of the input of the group. This dialectical or dialogical process is a form of amour fou and like love it transforms all those involved. And as such it demands commitment and the courage to ‘transform desire into the reality of desire’ (the Romanian surrealist group).
In the collective adventure of surrealism, we dare to dream real dreams, to reveal unexpected directions through a benign labyrinth of shared interests. Within the magnetic fields of respectful perception, we advocate the generous giving of clues, secrets, hard facts, fluent magic and dazzling encouragement. Imagination is central in transforming ourselves and the world. We confront the reality principle with our individual and collective interventions that disrupt the banality of the false mirror called ‘common sense’. As the offspring of Alice, we choose to go through the looking glass, shattering convention and conformity. We do not recognise borders. There are only crossings. We seek to forge a new conception of reality by transforming one’s vision, able to see the world and reality anew. This is linked to the model of the communicating vessels, connecting the external world of social reality with the interior world of the mind in a state of perpetual dialectical exchange. What is emphasised here is the importance of action, thought and imagination, and an active engagement with everyday reality in the constant exchange of/and interpenetration of dream and reality.
We must embrace the possibility of failure. Progress demands it. Without that first step, it is impossible to really try, or to actually learn. Dead ends and disproved hypotheses are the fertiliser of research. Absolute commitment to making a glorious mess is a minimum demand: ‘Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better’ (Samuel Beckett).