Atlanta Surrealists’ Underground present guarantees eerie, immersive, sensory feast

Simply in time for Halloween, from October 20-23, the Atlanta Surrealist Group is providing up a subterranean journey to the Underworld within the caverns beneath town — the No Tomorrow Gallery at Underground Atlanta. It guarantees to be a carnival of spirits and weird, uncanny beings blurring the boundaries between worlds.

This isn’t the standard horror-soaked fare of a haunted home. Undertakers and Underselves: A Surrealist Excavation goals to encourage a darkly odd enchantment utilizing play and spectacle to open a portal to the customer’s personal creativeness. The occasion takes place over 4 evenings, every one with distinctive programming designed by a global assortment of Surrealist artists and musicians, creating an environment of creepy and unsettling delight.

Undertakers and Underselves is coordinated by Peculiar Mormyrid, the curatorial part of Atlanta’s vibrant Surrealist collective that has been deeply engaged within the rising worldwide curiosity in Surrealism. Surrealism emerged in France after the devastation of World Warfare One, with main artists of the time meaning to problem the elitism of the established artwork world, and inspiring a spirit of basic revolt and liberation.

A university by Steven Cline.

Surrealists sought to bridge the aware and unconscious thoughts by way of dream evaluation and computerized strategies of writing and portray, which regularly produced the disjointed, nonsensical imagery that characterizes Surrealism to at the present time. Collaboration and internationalism had been key rules of the Surrealist motion, which unfold by way of Europe, the Americas, Africa and Asia in the course of the first half of the twentieth century.

There isn’t a denying Surrealism’s in style resurgence prior to now decade, doubtless impressed by its jarring visible themes, dalliances with the occult and liberatory messaging. Over the previous 5 years Surrealism has skilled a surge in worldwide consideration, with vital survey exhibitions in London, New York, Hamburg and Tokyo and that includes centrally at this 12 months’s Venice Biennale.

Since 2015, Peculiar Mormyrid has served as Atlanta’s hub of all kinds of Surrealist exercise. The identify Peculiar Mormyrid is impressed by the charmingly unusual African elephant fish, identified for its intelligence, sharp nostril and gentle electrical cost.

The group is remarkably prolific, producing inventive experiments in quite a lot of genres. As a writer, Peculiar Mormyrid produces one of many few remaining worldwide Surrealist journals, along with small run ‘zines and poetry sequence. The collective has additionally organized interactive exhibitions corresponding to Polymorph BodyShop in 2019 and Egregore in 2021, and created brief movies and, most not too long ago, a podcast. The Atlanta Surrealists emphasize the collaborative and the experiential, and their tasks intend to remodel extraordinary notion by way of re-enchantment.

Though participation within the Atlanta Surrealist group is shifting and dynamic with out specific management, the core artists driving the motion are Steven Cline, Hazel Cline, Aaron Dylan Kearns, Megan Leach and James Robert Foster, every of whom works in quite a lot of media and genres, spanning poetry, movie, sound, sculpture and collage.

The group commonly works with Surrealist teams in Canada, Argentina, England, Sweden and Spain, but they strategy this worldwide artwork motion with a voice and aesthetic firmly rooted in Atlanta’s wealthy inventive historical past of outsider and visionary artwork.

Hazel Cline (Photograph by Juli Maria Kearns)

Along with naming St. EOM and Howard Finster as influences, their work additionally incorporates greater than a contact of the humor and absurdist whimsy that characterizes Atlanta’s road artwork, the early animation of Grownup Swim, and the discovered artwork installations of the Doll’s Head Path.

The No Tomorrow Gallery has emerged as a middle for collaboration, improvisational music and experimental artwork. Their mission of supporting radical inventive group is an ideal match for the work of the Atlanta Surrealists, who’re explicitly targeted on rising inventive collectives somewhat than the showcasing of solo artists and distinct works.

Actually, the artists see themselves much less as particular person artists and extra as members engaged in co-creation and improvisation with one another and guests, producing group within the second.

Based on Steven Cline: “This exhibit was sparked by our participation in occasions on the No Tomorrow gallery, by the Surrealist spirit in full bloom which we encountered there and by the strangeness of the house itself, in addition to its lengthy historical past. The other of some white-walled, sterile exhibit house, No Tomorrow is chaotic and chthonic, thrilling, intimate, disturbing. The spirit of Underworld Carnival which we rejoice with this exhibit was already there ready after we arrived; we merely added to it.”

The opening occasion on Thursday, October 20, is the Subterranean Carnival, an improvisational and collaborative night evoking a circus sideshow misplaced within the mists of time and touched by one other world. There will likely be probability conferences with richly costumed specters, phantasms and enigmatic characters corresponding to “moldywarps.” Unusual, and typically hauntingly delicate surreal collages by Steven Cline, Hazel Cline and Leach will present a wealthy visible background.

On Friday, October 21, Getting Misplaced within the Caverns will likely be an interactive occasion dedicated to Surrealist Video games of probability and collective creativity. Surrealist artists have traditionally used group video games such because the creation of collaborative poems, and phrase collages as strategies to unlock the creativeness, to discover the unconscious and the realm of goals. For instance, the creation of an “beautiful corpse” poem, a Surrealist recreation invented within the Nineteen Twenties, entails every particular person writing a line of textual content, folding the paper all the way down to obscure the textual content earlier than passing it to the following particular person so as to add their very own ideas. The completed product could seem absurd, however the recreation can create distinctive and imaginative group experiences.

On Saturday, October 22, Quakes and Cries will spotlight freeform music, impressed rants and poetry readings, that includes units by Alabama-based avant garde violinist LaDonna Smith, the plush sonic improvisations of Flusnoix, and Atlanta-based experimental jazz composer Majid Araim.

The ultimate night time, A Evening on the Chthonic Film Palace, will showcase each historic and up to date Surrealist movies, together with a set of atmospheric shorts by a number of Atlanta Surrealist group members. There will likely be screenings of Teruo Ishii’s adaptation of Edogawa Rampo’s Horrors of Malformed Males and Traces within the Discipline: Episode 0, a movie by the Atlanta multimedia artist James Robert Foster, accompanied by a reside efficiency of the rating.

Peculiar Mormyrid’s occasions are designed for participation and immersion. Undertakers and Underselves will likely be a possibility to work together with the bizarre and shadowy, the noisy and amorphous, and everybody is inspired to contribute. As Hazel Cline says: “Probably the most marvelous works are created by the collective animal.”


Amy Hale is an Atlanta-based author and critic. She has written extensively on the British Surrealist artist and occultist Ithell Colquhoun and has not too long ago contributed essays to Tate Publishing, Burlington Up to date, Correspondences Journal, Camden Arts Centre and Artwork UK.