Meant to Be

Last Year in Marienbad
Last Year in Marienbad

Is this the way it was meant to be?
I remember the future differently,
But then again when could memory
Ever be trusted or relied upon,
Just raw rushes to be edited
Into a consoling, coherent fiction,
A vain attempt at a narrative
That lends structure, meaning,
To this messy rambling series
Of unfortunate events we group
Together and present as a
Distinct entirety called Life.

Is this the way it was meant to be?
I look in the mirror and I can’t
Recognise the figure I see staring
Nonchalantly back at me.
I am pursued by echoes, traces,
Vestiges of many different selves,
Degraded remnants of cancelled tomorrows,
Events that never happened that have
Yet retained a hold upon my senses
Far greater than any actuality
That may appeared to have perhaps
Occurred sometime in a half
Forgotten and ill-defined past.

Is this the way it was meant to be?
This era of ontological uncertainty,
At one point I may have seen a light
That drove me onward towards
A destination that I thought was home,
But it was switched off, extinguished,
Or maybe it just burnt itself out:
So now I spectrally waver,
Phantasmally flicker at the edge
Of your vision, waiting for you
To catch a glimpse, recognise
Love, give outline to desire,
Make the blood flow again
And shape my flesh to your will.

Dreams of Desire 67 (Lucien Clergue)

Lucien Clergue-Zebra Nude
Lucien Clergue-Zebra Nude

Despite the fact that Surrealism was involved in literature, illustration, painting, film, architecture, philosophy and politics, the area where it achieved its greatest impact and subsequent influence is undoubtedly the field of photography (see Dreams of Desire 2, 3, 21Angel and many others for examples of Surrealist and Surrealist inspired photography).

This influence can be seen in the nudes of the French photographer Lucian Clergue, who at the age of 21 in 1955 struck up a friendship with Picasso that was to last until the great modern master’s death in 1973. Clergue’s nude photographs often feature the zebra effect which creates a distancing coolness and abstraction to the exposed flesh. The model (or models) are defined by the interplay of light and shadow. In other studies the model is placed in natural surroundings where the body merges into the landscape in the manner of Magritte.

Dreams of Desire 45 (Leebra)

lee-miller1
Man Ray-Portrait of Lee Miller (Leebra) 1930
As regulars visitors will know, I have an unending fascination with the romance and creative collaboration between Man Ray and Lee Miller. I recently discovered this wonderful and wittily titled photograph of Lee taken by Man Ray in The Lives of Lee Miller written by her son Antony Penrose.

Man Ray work frequently featured the technique of light patterns upon the body and face, a striking way to render the familiar unfamiliar and by doing so adding an extra erotic allure, which was the essence of the Surrealist attitude to desire.

Dreams of Desire 25 (Return to Reason)

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La Retour a la Raison-Man Ray 1923
A still from Man Ray first film La Retour a la Raison (The Return To Reason) from 1923, a short experimental Dadaist film that includes Rayographs, night shots of the lights at a fairground, dancing mobiles and this being Man Ray, the stippled torso of a beautiful female, his lover the celebrated Kiki de Montparnasse. As with  most of Man Ray’s art the effect is sublimely erotic and yet subtly disquieting.