Lounges (Surrealism, Trauma & Dreams) 

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Trauma, Dream and Sensation


Welcome to a space where dreams and reality are combined.


Welcome to a space of restless, inexplicable connection.


Here we explore a means of connection, connection for survivors of the 2004 Indian Ocean  tsunami with people experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic, who want to experience this production of carried away on the crest of a wave, and the reverberations of those who crafted a style of artistic response to the devastation of World War I. Here we want to explore how the trauma of a global emergency can be examined and understood through the style of a surreal response. Surrealism, as a style of artistic expression, makes meaning of our world in a particular way; it focuses upon the unconscious logic of dreams and our sensory experience of the world.


Surrealism as an art form reflects the fear of the European art world after World War I, as it offered expression to the wild and restless mental state of these artists. It’s a style that foregrounds ‘primitive’ impulses, denies the role of reason, and emphasizes the force of the unconscious on the lives of people. Dreams and hallucinations are the creative sources of surrealism. In the UWaterloo Theatre program’s production of scenes from carried away on the crest of a wave we have used surrealism as an inspiration and a lens for the design of the world of the production, and in so doing we want to reflect the unconscious experience of trauma and hope that anyone directly affected by such a global disaster may have experienced. 


History of Surrealism and its Manifestations Around the World

Surrealism is a cultural movement that emerged in Europe after World War I and was significantly influenced by Dada. The style is best known for its visual artworks and writings, which mostly feature the juxtaposition of disparate realities that activate the unconscious mind through imagery. For the most part, Surrealist artists painted startling, illogical scenes, sometimes with photographic precision, creating strange creatures from everyday objects, and developing painting techniques that allowed the unconscious to express itself. According to the movement’s leader, French poet and critic André Breton, surrealism aimed to "resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super-reality, or surreality” (Breton).

Surrealists believed that there was a deep crisis in western culture, and they addressed this crisis under the inspiration of psychoanalysis. In Briony Fer’s review of Fault-Lines: Surrealism and the Death Drive, he mentioned that “the story raises the problem of spectatorship, of seeing and not seeing, of the visible and the invisible. Freud said that we could not imagine our death, only that of other people; if we try to imagine our own, we always remain spectators at the scene in our Fantasy” (Fer).

Theatre of Surrealism

Guillaume Apollinaire first used the word surrealist to describe his 1917 play, Les Mamellesdetiresias, which was later adapted into opera by Francis Poulenc. Antonin Artaud was an early advocate of surrealism, as he rejected most western theatre and drama as a distortion of its original intent, arguing that theatre should be a deeply mystical, metaphysical experience. He claimed that rational discourse is distorted by falsehood and delusion. Through theorizing a direct and immediate theatrical form, a ritual activity that links the performers’ unconscious thoughts with that of the audience, Artaud created the Theatre of Cruelty. In this theatrical form, emotions and themes are not expressed through language; instead, theatrical expression happens through the body, creating a mythic, archetypal, allegorical vision closely related to the dream world.

Style: A Way of Making Meaning

Artistic works of surrealism often feature the element of surprise, unexpected juxtapositions, and non-sequiturs; however, many surrealist artists and writers regard their work as an expression of the philosophical movement first and foremost, with the results themselves being an artifact. Breton was explicit in his assertion that surrealism was, above all, a revolutionary movement. At the time, the action was associated with political causes such as communism and anarchism.

Although Guillaume Apollinaire is considered to be the first artist to use the word surrealism to describe his work, the surrealist movement was not officially established until October 15, 1924, when Breton published the Surrealist Manifesto in Paris. From the 1920s onward, the movement spread worldwide, impacting the visual arts, literature, film, and music of many countries and languages and political thought and practice, philosophy, and social theory.

Surrealism is dedicated to exploring human beings’ subconscious minds. It advocates breaking through the logical and practical view of reality,  altogether abandoning realism and the orderly experience of  memory; it integrates this fundamental concept with the instinct - subconscious and dream experience of its advocates - to show the world in a deep psychological state. 

The stage and costume design of UWaterloo’s Theatre and Performance program’s production of carried away on the crest of a wave take surrealism as the central, governing style, and as such this design will combines myth, dream and reality to bring our audience a real and unreal experience. We are making meaning of David Yee’s stories and our experience of them through surrealism.


Works Cited:

Ryland, Charlotte. “Paul Celan's Encounters with Surrealism.” 2017, doi:10.4324/9781351193559.

FER, B. “Fault-Lines: Surrealism and the Death Drive.” Oxford Art Journal, vol. 18, no. 1, 1995, pp. 158–160., doi:10.1093/oxartj/18.1.158.

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Summer bathers (Print)    oliviasteenart.bigcartel.com

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Illustration Art by Aykut Aydoğdu. Aykut Aydoğdu, Turkey, is an artist born in 1986 in Ankara.


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Indonesian graphic designer Jati Putra Pratama creates surreal landscape artworks using photo manipulation. Much of his work consists of mind-bending scenes where dreamscapes are flipped into unusual angles or folded into each other. For many, Pratama’s compositions look like scenes that came out of the science-fiction thriller ‘Inception.’


“6 Tips For Getting into the Airport Lounge.” flyertalk, Images,  https://www.flyertalk.com/articles/how-to-get-in-the-airport-lounge-when-youre-flying-budget.html