The conference is organized by the ”Munch, Modernism, and Modernity” research group.
Olav Strømme, «Død blomst», 1935. Foto: Richard Jeffries ©Munchmuseet
Surrealism is without question one of the most influential and mutating intellectual and aesthetic practices emerging from the twentieth century. But “when” was Surrealism and “where” was Surrealism?
The movement was codified in Paris in the 1920s and ’30s with André Breton’s Manifesto of Surrealism (1924) as its foundational marker. For Breton, a revolutionary condition of Surrealism was its internationalism. Its participants held a wide range of nationalities; and throughout the 1930s, with Paris as a node, it appeared as an artistic and cultural movement on every continent due to the applicability of its revolutionary ideals and artistic practices to a variety of political and cultural circumstances. As a global movement it is often measured against, or understood within, the evolving thinking and artistic strategies of Parisian Surrealism. Recent studies have called attention to the culturally specific practices that constitute Surrealism as a global movement, drawing attention to more complex narratives within a multitude of manifestations and activities, challenging the canonical notion of Parisian Surrealism.
What were the specific entanglements of Surrealism and Scandinavia? For example, in a neglected passage of the First Manifesto of Surrealism (1924), André Breton paid homage to Knut Hamsun. Quoting at length from his novel Hunger (1890), Breton attributed the notion of automatic delirium to the Norwegian author, thus championing his prose as a quintessential precursor to Surrealism. In 1894 August Strindberg, whom Breton in Arcane 17 (1944) proclaimed to belong to a lineage of prominent revolutionary thinkers, published an essay in the Parisian magazine La revue des revues, declaring the need for a new art through the application of chance in artistic creation. In 1934, Vilhelm Bjerke-Petersen declared the need for a Surrealist revolution in Scandinavia, and a number of artists joined the movement, organizing talks and exhibitions, publishing books and periodicals as well as adapting Surrealist strategies into their own practices.
This conference seeks to invigorate these intersections, and to ponder how Scandinavia has been surrealist and vice versa. We wish to probe historical, aesthetic, formal and cultural discourses, – French and Scandinavian, or of other origin for that matter – which may shed light on the productive intersection of Surrealism and Scandinavia. We hope to complicate the traditional historical narrative of “Scandinavian Surrealism” and to re-open and expand the question of Surrealism’s broader relevance to art and culture in and of Scandinavia.
8:30. Registration and coffee
9:15. Keynote address: Karen Karen Kurczynski, University of Massachusetts, Amherst
10:15. Coffee Break
10:45. Panel I: Symbolism in and of Surrealism
Panel Chair: Jon-Ove Steihaug, Munch Museum
Thor Mednick, U. Toledo, “I Grow Fatigued: Jens Lund and the Emergence of Nordic Surrealisms”
Clarence B. Sheffield, Rochester Institute of Technology, “Haakon Bugge Mahrt’s Modernisme and the Complex Cultural Context of Scandinavian Surrealism ”
Marja Lahelma and Hanna-Reeta Schreck, U. Helsinki & Independent Scholar: “Ellen Thesleff’s Art in a Surrealist Context”
12:00. Lunch Break
1:15. Panel 2: Women in and of Surrealism
Panel Chair: Pat Berman, Wellesley College
Kerry Greaves, U. Copenhagen, “Women, Surrealism, and Denmark”
Martin Sundberg, Norrköping Art Museum, “In and out of Surrealism: Greta Knutson-Tzara and the Swedish Art Scene”
Ulla Angkjær Jørgensen, NTNU, “Modish and Erotic Fabulations. Rita Kernn-Larsen’s Surrealism”
2:30. Panel 3: Narrative in and of Surrealism
Panel Chair: Øystein Ustvedt, National Museum
Lars Toft-Eriksen, Munch Museum and UiO, “Rolf Stenersen and the Surrealism of Edvard Munch”
Emil Leth Meilvang, UiO, “Psycho-biology and life aesthetics in Danish, inter war Surrealism”
Kristoffer Noheden, Stockholm University, “Surrealism in Stockholm: 1949, 1986”
3:45. Coffee break
4:00 Response and group discussion
6:30 Dinner for the speakers
Conference fee: kr. 200 / 100 for students. The fee covers coffee/tea and lunch.
This is the eighth conference organized and sponsored by the Munch, Modernism, and Modernity Research Group at the University of Oslo, the Munch Museum, and the National Museum of Art, Architecture and Design in Oslo.