Ballardian Visions

Le Reve-Henri Rousseau 1910
Le Reve-Henri Rousseau 1910

I have previously highlighted the influence of the Surrealists and Pop Artists upon J.G. Ballard, one of the few modern writers whose name is now an adjective; the word Ballardian conjures up visions of dystopian modernity, denuded man-made landscapes, the all-consuming nature of mass media, entropy, psychological withdrawal and anomie.

This most visual of writers has been a source of inspiration to artists in his turn, either directly referencing his work or by touching upon Ballardian themes.

I have taken liberties with this selection of ‘Ballardian’ imagery. Obviously Rousseau pre-dates The Drowned World and Warhol is directly stated by Ballard as an influence in The Atrocity Exhibition, but in some sense they seem to me Ballardian. The unconscious forms its own connections, there are no accidents and there are no coincidences.

Wittgenstein in New York-Eduardo Paolozzi-1965
Wittgenstein in New York-Eduardo Paolozzi-1965
Spiral Jetty-Robert Jetty 1973
Spiral Jetty-Robert Smithson 1973
JG-Still-Tachita Dean-2013
JG-helmut newtonTachita Dean-2013
Peter Klasen-The Fire Mouth 1965
Peter Klasen-The Fire Mouth 1965
Jackie-Andy Warhol 1964
Jackie-Andy Warhol 1964
Crashed Cars Exhibition-J.G Ballard 1970
Crashed Cars Exhibition-J.G Ballard 1970
Orange Car Crash-Andy Warhol 1963
Orange Car Crash-Andy Warhol 1963
Westway
Westway
Balfron Towers
Balfron Towers
Autopia 2-Dan Holdsworth
Autopia 2-Dan Holdsworth
Bergstrom Over Paris-Helmut Newton 1976
Bergstrom Over Paris-Helmut Newton 1976
T.V Murder, Cannes-Helmut Newton 1975
T.V Murder, Cannes-Helmut Newton 1975
Scenes From the Passion:The Hawthorne Tree-George Shaw 2001
Scenes From the Passion:The Hawthorne Tree-George Shaw 2001
Someone else's House-George Shaw 2018
Someone else’s House-George Shaw 2018
Peter Klasen-Blue Dream 2018
Peter Klasen-Blue Dream 2018

 

 

 

Serpent Sun

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The Snake Charmer-Henri Rousseau 1907
In 1941 Andre Breton with his wife Jacqueline Lamba and daughter Aube left Marseilles bound for New York. Travelling on a crowded cargo freighter they arrived after a long and difficult crossing in the Caribbean island of Martinique, which was under the control of the  Nazi-dominated Vichy Regime. His experiences on the island led to the book Martinique—Charmeuse de Serpents and describes his internment in a military prison camp upon arrival. After his release he was to meet, after a series of chance encounters, the Martinican poet, politician and fierce anti-colonialist theorist; Aime Cesaire and his brilliant wife Suzanne.

The encounter was to influence all parties profoundly. Andre Breton praises Aime Cesaire’s book length poem (mixed with prose) Cahier d’un retour au pays Natal (Notebook on a Return to the Native Land) as  “nothing less than the greatest lyrical monument of our times.”  The Cesaire’s embraced Surrealism as a potential tool to help in the struggle for black identity and self-determination worldwide. Aime was to be one of the founders of the Negritude movement and mentored the revolutionary Franz Fanon, whose The Wretched of the Earth analysed the brutalizing effect that colonialism has upon both the colonized and the colonizer and is widely considered a landmark in the literature of colonial studies.

 

Serpent Sun

Serpent sun eye bewitching my eye
and the sea flea-ridden with islands cracking in the fingers of flamethrower roses and my
intact body of one thunderstruck
the water raises the carcasses of light lost in the pompless corridor
whirlwinds of ice floes halo the steaming hearts of ravens
our hearts
it is the voice of tamed thunderbolts turning on their crack hinges
a transfer of anolis to the landscape of broken glasses it is the vampire flowers relaying the
orchids
elixir of the central fire
fire just fire night mango tree swarming with bees
my desire a throw of tigers caught in the sulphurs
but the stannous awakening gilds itself with infantine deposits
and my pebble body eating fish eating doves and slumbers
the sugar in the word Brazil deep in the marsh.