Advertiser’s Announcement by J.G. Ballard

Does the angle between two walls have a happy ending?-J.G Ballard 1967
Does the angle between two walls have a happy ending?-Advert by J.G Ballard 1967

Between 1967 and 1970 J.G. Ballard placed five ‘advertiser’s announcements’ in Ambit, New Worlds and various continental alternative magazines. Although he was the editor at Ambit and heavily involved in New Worlds he paid the going rates out of his own pocket. Ballard stated that he wanted to eventually place them in Vogue, Paris-Match and Life magazines and even applied for an Arts Council grant to provide the necessary funding, but the idea was summarily rejected by the council. Ballard believed that the refusal was occasioned by their sniffy attitude towards advertising as an art-form: still the hesitancy to pony up public funds is understandable on several counts. Would those august publications have published the adverts considering their bizarre and controversial nature? Is advertising a suitable area for an Arts Council grant? And most pertinently of all, what exactly is Ballard selling?

The adverts feature a black and white image of a woman; the first and final photographs are of his partner Claire Churchill, later Walsh, the second is a still from Steven Dworkin’s film Alone about a woman masturbating, the third is a photograph of a woman in bondage gear that his friend the British Pop Artist Eduardo Paolozzi took and the fourth is by Les Krims; with accompanying text taken and on occasion somewhat re-worked from various chapters of The Atrocity Exhibition. As always with Ballard the motivation and effect is ambiguous. The use of the Situationist International technique of détournement would appear to place them as satires, but Ballard always had a tendency to embrace what was commonly held in contempt by the establishment. Regardless of their overt meaning we can be sure that their latent manifestation is of a deeply subversive nature.

Homage to Claire Churchill-J.G. Ballard 1967
Homage to Claire Churchill-J.G. Ballard 1967
Does the angle between two walls have a happy ending?-J.G Ballard 1967
Does the angle between two walls have a happy ending?-J.G Ballard 1967
A Neural Interval-J.G.Ballard 1970
A Neural Interval-J.G.Ballard 1970
Placental Insufficiency-J.G.Ballard 1970
Placental Insufficiency-J.G.Ballard 1970
Venus Smiles-J.G.Ballard 1970
Venus Smiles-J.G.Ballard 1970

 

 

35 thoughts on “Advertiser’s Announcement by J.G. Ballard

    1. Thanks C.R. I am on a bit of a Ballard kick at the moment, I posted on The Atrocity Exhibition, so I thought I would share them. As always with Ballard they are absorbing but baffling. Extreme Metaphors is fantastic, he was so public, always ready for an interview, yet remains so mysterious. Does the angle between two walls have a happy ending? Indeed.

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      1. I think his fiction is something that you just ‘get’ intuitively. The more you try to intellectualise about it, the fuzzier the edges become. He had a unique way of speaking to directly to the subconscious, I think, and that could be extremely disturbing.

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      2. Yes I think he succeeds in his attempt at showing the latent manifestations of the modern world. I know that time has moved on but the reality is essentially Ballardian now. He is criticized for his characterization and dialogue but for me you get so much more in their place.

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      3. I think more emphasis on characterisation would separate the individuals from the landscape, and as far as I can tell, their merging and interchanging with it was the whole point.

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      4. Absolutely…the rules are different for fantastic fiction as well…Alice is a typical Victorian Miss, Gulliver is an Everyman, extraordinary events need to happen to ordinary people to better emphasis the events. In The Atrocity Exhibition particularly the inner and outer realms have changed places.

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    1. One of the few British visionaries. Obviously I am a keen admirer, though sometimes I wonder what his aims are. Was he a psychologist, prophet, provocativeur? This is completely baffling but thought provoking I hope.

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    1. The advertisements do beg this question, after all there is always a product, that’s the whole point of advertising. We both remain baffled. Thank you for the comment, they are always appreciated.

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      1. Kind of. If you can even make sense of his sentences. Nevertheless it’s totally mind bending and imagination stretching. Which I can thoroughly endorse

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      2. Ballard studies to be a psychiatrist which involved in those days becoming a medical graduate. He spent two years dissecting a corpse then quit. It is always quoted as being part of the reason why he was so detached, cool and clinical in his prose. A very wayward imagination that can be witnessed in numerous books.

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      3. The psychiatrist is still a medical doctor with a speciality. A psychologist doesn’t have a medical degree however. Two years on a cadaver would certainly have an effect

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      4. The medical background though… if he quit was he really so detached? Perhaps outwardly and in the ways it informed his writing. Unless of course the dissection was becoming tedious

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      5. In The Kindness of Women, one of his autobiographical fictions he said that he become attached to the female corpse who he picked because of the resemblance to his mother and when he had finished dissecting he decided to quit. He was a bit of a self mythologer though. His prose style in The Atrocity Exhibition is remarkably detached.

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  1. Would be interested to know if this was a true story about his Mother? Of course having a medical background does change the mental detachment to the human body. Interesting topic, you certainly have a very wide knowledge and thank you for bringing this to my attention, as always Mr Cake, you left the reader wondering.

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