Inside The Magnetic Fields:Surrealism at 100

Inside The Magnetic Fields: Surrealism at 100

November 5 through 24, 2019

Berkeley and San Francisco, California

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Presented by City Lights Booksellers & Publishers in conjunction with BAMPFA, University of California at Berkeley's Program in Critical Theory, Alleycat Books, Canessa Gallery, Consul General of Mexico in San Francisco, Duke University Press, Goethe Institut San Francisco, Lucid Art Foundation, Mechanics’ Institute Library, The MIT Press, San Francisco Art Institute, University of Minnesota Press, and The Weinstein Gallery.


Why 1919?

Although André Breton’s Surrealist Manifesto was produced in 1924 and signalled to the world the official arrival of Surrealism, much had been in progress prior to that moment. The year 1919 marked the emergence of the avante garde journal Littérature. Many seminal works could be found within its pages including the classic surrealist text The Magnetic Fields, which Breton declared to be the first Surrealist text written as such. The year 1919 can also be seen as a transitional moment between the Dada and Surrealism. This interim period saw an outpouring of creativity that led to the development of many of the ideas that became central to Surrealism. From automatic writing and an interest in psychoanalysis to spontaneous methods of artistic creation like the Exquisite Corpse, a rich expression of aesthetic and political concerns emerged that differentiated Surrealism from its Dada past. Fresh from the battlefields of the First World War, the artists, writers, and instigators of the movement were desperate to find ways of processing the horrors of war. Where Dada was in essence a movement of protest, Surrealism aimed to explore the depths of human experience. Although it has been labeled a movement, it has been more accurately described by many of its proponents: a way of living. The aim of this festival is to focus as much as possible on the root sources of the birth of Surrealism, offering explorations that reveal motifs and ideas that may be of use to us in our tumultous times.


“Dreams have as much influence as actions.”

—Stéphane Mallarmé


Schedule of Events

From lectures and panel discussions to performances and film screenings, INSIDE THE MAGNETIC FIELDS spends two weeks exploring Surrealism at a variety of venues that include: City Lights Bookstore, Alley Cat Books, Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive, Mechanics’ Institute Library, San Francisco Art Institute, University of California at Berkeley, and The Weinstein Gallery.


“Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express - verbally, by means of the written word, or in any other manner - the actual functioning of thought. Dictated by the thought, in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.”

—André Breton



INSIDE THE MAGNETIC FIELDS will host artists, curators, musicians, poets, scholars, and writers, with a dedicated interest in Surrealism. Appearing will be Carolyn Burke, James Lee Cahill, Stuart Kendall, Susan Laxton, Penelope Rosemont, Jennifer Shaw, Abigail Susik, Hans Winkler, and many others.


“Surrealism is not a movement. It is a latent state of mind perceivable through the powers of dream and nightmare.”
—Salvador Dalí


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In memory of Nanos Valaoritis

July 5, 1921 - September 13, 2019