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Laboratory of the Imaginary

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Every project that calls itself revolutionary needs to undertake, in the field of creative imagination, the task of confronting unreservedly a radical opposition to the imaginary of domination. At the same time, it requires the assertion of an own imaginary, not only in order to reply to it but also as utopian, i. e. emancipatory promise.

To give in for the blackmail of the spectacular image is to insult the legacy of history in the form of images of freedom; it is to consent to a kind of sociologistic fatalism, of undialectical historistic determinism that would lead to a suffocating situation; it is to concede a victorious present rising over an unredeemed passed to the language of the masters. It is moreover to adopt the tactics of the ostrich in front of a threatening reality that bothers one to address as it breaks the ideological laziness that  took for closed the debate on creation because of the supposedly indisputable expedient of the death of art and its historic realization in everyday life. And still, what is certain is that the economy continues to produce images that penetrate us through all the pores, taking control of our desires, depriving us of the autonomy of our own dreams, but without which, on the other hand, the institution of art, as a separated domain belonging to the expert, as well as an ornament and a crutch of power, would have collapsed. Therefore, the revolutionary task to connect the past images of freedom with the images of freedom of our own time continues to be a task to be done. Well, hence it cannot be given on any account that the generation of such images remains part of what already is easily being confused with the work of a specialist (that's the artist of our time). Or that this task is being realized without carrying out an implacable criticism of the colonization and alienation of the human unconscious (and conscious) through the image., what we call imagialianation.

It is an unparalleled fallacy to continue to believe that in our time the sign of what it is  conventionally called ’creation’ is being designed by the for himself and for others called ’artist’. It is a great historical irresponsibility to even maintain the idea of the artist and of creation associated with such a figure dissolved in the dematerialization of Economy. And moreover an antiquity: as if the 20th century hadn't given proofs to have overcome such vagueness; or that the action of granting oneself the elaboration of an object of ”aesthetic” order (and that we always will call poetic) in accordance with an internal solicitude of first magnitude (the own liberation of impotent behaviors) remains the hands of what today belong to the professional, the executive, the industrial and the administrative. Let us therefore leave the artist with his display of insufficiencies. The genesis of a poetic production (in the so called plastic, visual or audiovisual field to take typical examples) capable to raise the possibility of an imaginary of freedom is to be found somewhere else, without doubt more common places than a mundane social group would like.

On the one hand Laboratory of the imaginary proceeds from the consciousness of overcoming of the so called artistic as obviously caducous paradigm for creation. On the opposite hand, we continue to think that a potentiality in the mind of every human being persists that is ready to manifest its promise in the field of creative imagination: to experiment with all the inspiration and intensity that we are capable of the possibility of approaching a mental liberation that takes shape in a representation that ows to the imperiously necessary, may it be through a irrepressible desire, through desperation, through mere play – through pure gratuity – or through a disdainful dandyism of the mind. This is, truly, what moves us and gives us reasons to live.

Thus we proclaim to the four winds the abolition of the concept of the work of art that in no way can be confused, in the field of creative action, with a poetic exploration that eliminates from its own horizon all downfall in the prison of the identity. In our own adventure we clearly manifest that we do not believe in a surrealist art, but that solely the idea of a poetics of surrealism gives us confidence.

The considerations above need to be taken into serious consideration in order to understand what we aim at with this Laboratory of the Imaginary.

Laboratory of the Imaginary is based on the visual documentation of certain works characterized by the representation of what they resemble more than anything else, to the elaboration of a personal myth that becomes confused in and with daily life itself, the only possible way through which what we for mere intelligibility will call ”work” could retrieve a real use value of the marvellous, far beyond commercial calculation and the artist's vanity. The forms may change from onirism or automatism to the symbolic or the conceptual, but in all cases they need, as an indispensable precondition, entails a potency of surreality (this doesn't mean ”surrealist”). After all, we put forward this adventure out of surrealism, but of surrealism as a current inserted in the revolutionary traditions of the 19th and, especially, 20th centuries, in opposition to the view of it as a domain of art and totally rejecting its epigona anaesthetists1. In this sense, we will not hesitate in discriminating everything in which an obvious principle of mimetism, i. e. when a disproportion takes place between a experimental elaboration of the personal myth and its conscious or unconscious fall into the construction of a ”surrealist work of art” that leads the latter to impose itself on the first in an insensible or deliberate manner. On the other hand, the formal aspect concerns us only very relatively when this pretention is inexistant, as according to the proposal of Laboratory of the Imaginary, these representations, may they be ”dolls” eight centimetres high which like authentic ”ex-votos” of delirium form a timeless teratology, or an impossible monster suggested by chance and dream, or the daily objects that acquire substance in their own shadow, they have to be the testimony of a life capable to create a particular cosmology imbued with a political quality favourable to the emancipation of the alienated images and thus capable of crystalizing a supreme and unequivocal experience of freedom determined by its high intensities.

Surrealist group of Madrid
Madrid, May 2008

(Published in Salamandra #17-18, 2008)

  • 1. In this as well as in other respects, this section doesn't aim at anything else than deepen the crisis at all levels of the image and of imagination, and of the surrealist image and the imagination that we already analysed in The False Mirror (see Salamandra 11-12, 2001). Of course Laboratory of the Imaginary doesn't pretend to set itself out as the definitive exit out of this crisis, rather as a blind exploring palpating in the dark. As such an experimental activity, it can without doubt fail, inherent right of the life that we do not wish to renounce neither.