Surrealism and Ethnography in Paris, 1925 ff
In 1920s and 1930s France, the relatively late establishment of ethnology as an academic discipline in comparison to other colonial empires, the modernization of the ethnographic museum, and the commencement of collective fieldwork coincided with Surrealism, jazz and “negrophilia.” James Clifford coined the term “ethnographic Surrealism” to explain the correlations between Avant-Garde art and the questioning of “cultural orders” as well as those between rationality-critical discourse and references to non-Western cultures.
In a tour of the exhibition, Irene Albers illuminates the interconnections between Surrealism and ethnology in Paris between the World Wars. The focus is on the journal Documents, on whose editorial team Carl Einstein, Georges Bataille and Michel Leiris collaborated, and on the Dakar-Djibouti mission (1931-1933).
Irene Albers has been professor of general and comparative literary studies and Romance languages at the Freie Universität Berlin since 2004. Her research focuses on relations between literature and photography, the embodiment of emotions in Romance language novels and the relationship between literature and anthropology in the context of Surrealism and the Collège des Sociologie. She edited the German edition of Collège de Sociologie 1937-1939 (2012) with Stephan Moebius and Animismus – Revisionen der Moderne (2012) and Nach dem Animismus (2016) with Anselm Franke. In 2018, she will publish Der diskrete Charme der Anthropologie – Michel Leiris’ ethnologische Poetik.