The Surrealist Portfolio – Collage

Student coursework for the module Surrealism: Myth And Modernity (2020/2021), 2nd/3rd year elective

Collage: The Wet Dream

by Chi Lo ‘James’

In the unconscious, images of my dream surfaced as an indefinite form and during consciousness, my collage recorded the automatic process by finding images and bodies of text in the Jan issue of The Economist which caught my attention the most. As I was working to piece back displaced information, I excavated the unconscious mind through being awake. Series of images and texts are not random but chosen specifically to represent the interpretation of that dream. The specificity of the image becomes an archaeological remnant which bears the corporeal.

Although I had long stopped wetting myself in dreams, I still dream about “toilet urgency” and I had that dream about recently, thus inspiring this collage. I think yellow fittingly represents urination in a comical way, and by using striking graphics, it best displayed the idea. Meanwhile this “urgency” reflects on the satirical political unconsciousness that I have been experiencing through the internet and media. Across the world and primarily in the USA, there have been major and rapid political shifts which occurred during the whole pandemic. I witnessed the pathological absurdity which unfolded, and as it amounted, I find myself urgently needing to relieve all these intense emotions which was felt, and for the return of peace and order to the society (in USA) which is championed as the founders of democracy and TRUTH. Through the TV and media, I had grown attached to the democratic values of the US, but its division and lack of cohesion prove otherwise.

The Lobster, which was found in a separate catalogue, represents the surreal and is a reminder of the witty and whimsical. Cutting out and isolating the Lobster, which originated from a realist style of painting could be a defiant way to castrate the iconographical. This was what Dalí did egregiously, by fetishizing the Lobster as an object which replaces sexual fear. Historically in the West, the crustacean reflects on politics – maritime authority during colonial rule. Its hardened anatomy which protects its soft innards also represents enforcement and the solid grip of society to instil order. In art, it is used primarily in still-life and invokes grandeur of traditions. Here, the lobster had been isolated from the absolute and hierarchical and finds itself as a subject to my dream. It pokes fun at politics by portraying the superficial exterior which is used by politics as a bludgeon for political and economic gains. Donning this suit of armour, virtue signalling for political clause while using military and economical coercion, does not gives the rights of false idols to instil their corrupt and dominating agencies. As humans, we should maintain our inner skeletal structure as a basis to experience the unknown faculties of life (and the sensorial) which could also be enhanced through the unconscious.