Exhibition Film Poem Talks and Presentations

International Exhibition of Surrealism Cairo 2022

Taya King: La Sirena Surrealist Group participated in the International Exhibition of Surrealism by submitting collective poetry texts, artworks, and films, which was followed by their physical representation as a group at the exhibition in Cairo (February 2022). This historically significant event also marked the first time that all members of La Sirena have met each other since the group’s virtual inception the previous year, during lockdown. I was particularly proud to present my two films, La Femme Automatique and La Femme (Re)trouvée (2021), at the exhibition.

Darren Thomas: Being part of this great exhibition, in Cairo has been a truly special experience. As well as showing several of my collages and photographs, I screened the third film in my trilogy The Dream Key (eclipse) and performed my poetry. But my abiding memory is the collective and international nature of this meeting of hearts and minds from the surrealist community, offering a wonderful opportunity to meet old and new comrades alike from so many countries and different cultures and take part in a collective dialogue and group activities – the poetry made by all!

Doug Campbell: I had been excited to see the rebirth of Egyptian surrealism over the last few years, and was thrilled to be invited to Cairo to participate in the exhibition. Despite the many challenges faced by the organisers, the event more than lived up to expectations. A meeting of minds in a magical space, and as such, perhaps necessarily challenging. For me, those challenges were a reason to get out there and get involved, not a reason to stay at home. I’m so glad I did, and I’m sure the contacts made and the energy generated will lead to many further adventures.

Daina Kopp: I was over the moon to come to Cairo for such a monumental surrealist exhibit. As a polyglot, I was in my element to be surrounded by artists and creators of all kinds from 28 countries and 4 continents who flew in. It was an honor and a pleasure to submit artwork and perform with my surrealist dream-inspired band, Hypnagogic Telegram. It was enchanting to meet with my fellow sirens from La Sirena and I look forward to further collaborations with the artists who contributed to this amazing historical exhibit. An ancient country hosting the next chapter of surrealism. Bravo!

Mad Love Poem

‘The Knife of the Sky’

The knife of the sky tortures the wise

Broken day burning the birdless sky

The clouds form the ghosts of sleepers

Whose eyes distil the world’s reflection

And your face is a pyramid of kisses that I

Use for writing words and butterflies

Who can sing in cages just as the laughter settles

On lovers’ lips whose smiles are framed

The tears of last year’s summer now rests

In yellow roses where candles melt flat

The game ensues tearing open the Snow 

Queen’s broken heart inside the gas lantern

The sirens whisper the name of the Sunflower King

Who dreams of men on the land

The sound of moon against sun shattered the summer

‘The Knife of the Sky’ (Poem and collage, Taya King and Darren Thomas)
La Sirena Poem

‘Where Do the Sirens Meet?’ Collective Poem by La Sirena

Where do the sirens meet?

At the turning into evening

They meet in the eardrum of a grandfather clock

They meet in the glint of sunlit underground vistas

They meet in dry patches under the sea

The sirens meet in the inner ear of Odysseus

In the library of Alexandra – or of Babylon on public holidays

They meet where the dream of midnight kisses the sun

At the confluence of the lost rivers of London

They meet in the ocean’s hot springs

They meet hand in hand garlanded in petals and tears

In the bride’s train

Where the three hemispheres meet

They meet on the giant chessboard 

At the hour of the wolf

In the rose made of seashells

They meet through the mirrors 

When the stars are right

In the place of whispers 

In equality

They meet in waking dreams

They meet in the clocks without time 

Under my lover’s curse

They meet in the smiles of lovers 

In the ghost stations of the underground

Coffins brimming with yeast

They meet in the shadows of living ghosts 

In echoes

In hopes

They meet in the miracle of becoming

They meet in the hazy daydreams of tomorrow 

In the folds of time

They meet in period novels 

They meet without limits

Under the moons of forgotten worlds

They meet in black and white 

After the ball is over

They meet in the womb of the mountain 

They meet on giant clams to play with phantom limbs

They meet inside her silver castle 

In the mouth of madness

They meet on the dissecting table 

At the Tannhäuser Gate

Where my first childhood grew glass antlers

They meet in the androgynous islands 

Down a dirt track road

In the swollen ant hills of Arabia

They meet on Pangaea

Within the old house filled with swallows and love letters

They meet on purpose

They meet on the tail of an upset cat

They meet beyond the border 

In a feline landscape composed from the glassy stares of the first sirens

They meet in each other’s gaze 

In Plato’s prism

In haunted houses

In a message, glimpsed in a mirror, from a borrowed dream

They meet in de Sade’s chateau 

In my silent laughter

They meet on the screens of abandoned movie theatres

They meet without prejudice

At the lighthouse

On someone else’s sacred ground

‘Bilibin’s Dream’ (Collage, Daina Kopp)

La Femme Automatique Poem

‘Who is the Automatic Woman? (1 & 2)’ Collective Poems by La Sirena

Who is the automatic woman? (1)

She is the domestic goddess of my dreams

She is the wave and I am the ocean

She is carved from Venus

She is not my equal

She emotes like a frightened nightingale

She is tabula rasa

She is made from the milk of human kindness

She is the doll woman with her doll dreams

She is a constellation of fetishes

She is the white queen

She is a mere mask, an ornament, a particle of sand, cast adrift in a great storm

She is a pawn

She is barely a shadow of man

She is a text to be read as you please

She is in perpetual checkmate

She cries her witch tears that flatter no one

Her reflection does not exist

She is a signified without a signifier

She doubts everything

She does not dare to dream anything but second-hand dreams

She is a mistress to patriarchy

She is a stain on the face of this earth

She is a cheap paperback novel to be discarded

She is a gift from the gods

She is the epitome of evil – a femme fatale, a siren, a new Eve – a plague to be extinguished

She is not to be trusted

She has the dry tears of all women that vampirise men’s laughter

Her mask is made out of the finest silk

She murders midnight with feminine ease

She is a masochist

She is hysterical

She is duplicitous

Her cruel games with mankind are genocidal

She is a succubus

She aspires to be a princess, but she is always only an actress

Who is the automatic woman? (2)

She is an equal

She is a hunter

She does not care for Oedipus

She inhabits my thoughts, my dreams, my waking life, 

She is revolutionary

She is crossing over, becoming who I am, who I wish to be

She is the mirror I fall asleep in

She is beyond good and evil

She is not mythical

She rejects time

Her smile is the colour of my dreams

She walks in fields of fire

She knows what she wants

She knows who she is

She is beyond signified and signifier

She inhabits the space between yes and no

She is the key 

She is closer to the sun than the moon

She cannot listen to the vile cacophony of hate-speech 

She rises above it like a great surfer

She has a form that defies form

Her x ray eyes see through you

She is a raging maenad

Her gaze turns men to stone

Her tears water the gardens where we will plant the new children

She is a forest made from the leaves of love

She is always the bridge that carries us to where we need to be

She is limitless in her vision of the future

Her arms are big enough to embrace a world that does not even care about itself

She is fork lightning caught in a velvet glove

She is real

Her cauterised sleep is the essence of magic and produces the brightest pearls

She speaks in tongues

She is the whisper I hear when I want to hear nothing

Her confidence is only sleeping

She knows the secrets of all the hidden rooms

She gives birth to herself

She is part sunrise, part teardrop, part seashell

Her wedding to the winds of old Arabia is legendary and, in this tale, she casts the greatest shadow

She is not in chronological order

The alphabet reorganises around her

Her sunshine is infectious

She does not seek the end, only the beginning of the end, and this is where she begins again, to find her new beginning

She is the last word

She is metamorphosis

Assemblage by Daina Kopp
La Femme (Re)trouvée Poem

‘Found Woman’ Collective Poem by La Sirena

Found woman

In the breath of dreams 

In my glass heart

Always there

In spring

She is my fluid rose

Growing from the seabed

Beneath my dreams

In spring

I can see you Sirena… 

I can smell you on my tongue

She exists within my blinks

But never in my dreams

The lilac smile 

Her path beyond the fist of thorns

Leading me 

Beyond myself

To the chandeliers

Hanging like the gleam of childhood

From my shadow

I can taste you…

Between each rapid eye movement

And then in deeper sleep

She took the arm of a passer-by

The movement caught the beast’s eye

The door to the banqueting hall

Burst violently open

Returned to the shadowy world

Divided the sea and sky

Sending great waves

Instead of beauty

The box contained sleep

Serpents seem so precious to the gods

Hanging like the gleam of childhood

From my shadow

Part flesh

Part mirror

Her body sparkles with midnight seashells

I dreamt she spoke to statues    

An arm of the sea stretched inland

And they became friends

The egg of the sea felt numb

She dances in collaged whispers

She swallows the sun

She kidnaps the last rays of hope

And emerges in kisses

Large as a pigeon’s egg

In the underwater world

The pearl shone like the moon

Cracking her whip above their heads

Climbing through the open window in her heart 

And near the back of her reflection 

She steals the night

Only to reclaim the box of delights she buried there in a dream

I found a ladder and thought it would it help me find her but…

She made her way back up the gloomy passage

She was already caught in the echo of her gleaming

Somewhere near the bridge of lost daydreams

Assemblage by Daina Kopp
La Femme (Re)trouvée Poem

‘Who is the Found Woman?’ Collective Poem by La Sirena

Who is the found woman?

She is the sunset without limits 

She is smiling in my dreams

She is the water goddess

She is dancing on a dime

She is at the back of midnight

She is in my shadow, always

She is the queen of black cats

She is the queen of wrong numbers

She is teaching the children of the revolution

She told me she existed, but I don’t believe her

She gave birth to her own dreams

She wants to take me to the top of the Empire state to read me her poems

She does not care for Paris

She whispers in white ash and red seashells

She is entirely capable of anything

She is a tramp, but that’s ok

She is not afraid to be an androgyne

She smells like red wine once a month

She’s a haunted house and all her windows are broken

She can only breathe underwater

She counts the hours in kisses

She whispers to the sea

She lives, breathes and sighs in the spaces between yes, no and always

She didn’t do that, but she might

She isn’t a mistress, but her reflection is

She makes the fishes sing in echoes

She is all the hope that we secretly need but do not dare to speak

She is a type of elemental fire, a smokeless, smouldering flame

She is a tightrope that I cling to when I go to sleep

She is an experiment in femininity

She eats fire that dances on the ceiling

She bleeds when her purity is misunderstood or maligned

She is the dancer that I aspire to be

She cannot tempt the tempters but she can heal the healers

Her eyes are on my dream mask

She is the dolphin who played the clown for the cloud-king

She is the mask that I can never remove

Assemblage by Daina Kopp