Bendigo Art Gallery: 10.06.2000 - 23.07.2000
Monash Gallery of Art:
Ararat Gallery: 14.12.2001 - 25.01.2002
120 emerging and established artists.
In Andre Breton's Dictionaire Abrege du Surrealisme of 1938 he describes the 'Exquisite Corpse' as: a game of folded paper which consists in having several people compose a phrase or drawing collectively, none of the participants having any idea of the nature of the preceding contribution. In Andre Breton's Dictionaire Abrege du Surrealisme of 1938 he describes the 'Exquisite Corpse' as: a game of folded paper which consists in having several people compose a phrase or drawing collectively, none of the participants having any idea of the nature of the preceding contribution.
The now classic example, which gave its name to the game, is the first phrase obtained in this manner: The Exquisite-Corpse-shall-drink-the-new-wine. The Exquisite Corpse was for Surrealists a way to access and generate concrete manifestations of the subconscious mind with a fevered and uncensored abandon not possible by any other means. Breton, referred to by some as the Pope of Surrealism, has been described as shouting with joy when he recognised the creative potential afforded by this unorthodox modus operandi. The Exquisite Corpse was the most popular of all automatic techniques, and was directly in keeping with the Surrealists aim of creating via 'the dictation of thought, in the absence of all control exercised by reason, and outside all aesthetic or moral preoccupations'.
Since the time of the Surrealists, many well known artists have played the Exquisite Corpse game. In 1995 I viewed an exhibition of contemporary Exquisite Corpse's as it was on tour in the United States which provided me with the inspiration to organise a version involving 120 Victorian artists. In keeping with Surrealists intentions I was at the outset determined, as much as feasibly possible, to allow the mechanisms of chance dictate the process. The artists were selected at random and came from a variety of backgrounds, from painters and printmakers through to digital artists. This included people fresh out of art school, all the way through to very well known artists. Most of the groupings (three artists contributed to each drawing) were anonymous, and people were often working with geographically disparate collaborators. Paper was provided but this was to be viewed only as a starting point, all else was left to the artists. The resulting works included many traditional mediums as well as hair, wire, insects, felt and leaves.
The main joy of organising this exhibition was the overwhelmingly positive response to the concept. Arts Victoria provided funding through the Regional Arts Fund, and as the Curator I was pleased by the tremendous support received from artists who dedicated their expertise and time. The Exquisite Corpse's exceeded my expectations. The works were intricate and blatant, dynamic and ambiguous, precious and haphazard. They embodied the spirit of Surrealism - a democratic, liberated and fun way to create art. They were the results of a game which embraced everyone and encouraged anything.
- Anonda Bell 2000 (from Arts Victoria website: June 2001 archive, Vol. 2, No. 2 weblink )