Surrealist sabotage and the war on work is an art-historical study devoted to international surrealism’s critique of wage labour and its demand for non-alienated work between the 1920s and the 1970s. The Introduction and Chapter 1 frame the genealogy of surrealism’s work refusal in relation to its inter-war investment in ultra-left politics, its repudiation of French nationalism, and the early twentieth-century development of sabotage theory in the labour movement. Chapter 2 proposes an interpretation of surrealist automatism in 1920s France as a subversion of disciplined production in the emerging information society and also reperformance of feminised information labour. Chapter 3 is a study of autoeroticism and autonomy in Spanish surrealist Óscar Domínguez’s depictions of women’s work tools, such as the sewing machine and the typewriter, in works of art across media during the 1930s. Chapter 4 provides a historical account of labour activism in Chicago surrealism during the 1960s and 1970s, including an analysis of the Chicago surrealist epistolary exchange with German philosopher Herbert Marcuse. An Epilogue considers the paintings that German surrealist Konrad Klapheck made depicting sewing machines, typewriters, and other tools of information labour during the 1960s, in conjunction with related works by other surrealists such as Giovanna. As a whole, Surrealist sabotage and the war on work demonstrates that international surrealism critiqued wage labour symbolically, theoretically, and politically, through works of art, aesthetics theories, and direct actions meant to effect immediate social intervention.
capitalist exploitation and dehumanisation with critical activity,
surrealist experimentation, and protest manifestations. 19 My account of
the surrealist work refusal echoes the structure of Aragon’s
categories in that I analyse many of the numerous parapolitical
instances of rhetorical opposition to wage labour or proletarian
solidarity in surrealist artworks, pamphleteering, and proclamations
alongside instances of the limited but significant protest
demonstrations, strikes, industrialsabotage
routinely advised that ‘enemy alien’ Communists should be
refused industrial employment on the grounds that they were opposed to
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the war and therefore might commit industrialsabotage. However, it is
important to note that this rationale conflicted with the prevailing view
among scientists, which held that scientific expertise should be the main, if
not the only criterion in recruiting staff to a project of such importance to
the war effort. It was feared that
narrowedly missed killing one of the men on the spot—had made a hole in his skull near an inch deep.
As the tiny Walker pit neared completion, so it became both more dangerous for the miners and also more vulnerable to underground industrialsabotage.
22 Robert Mann told me the Walker pit hut had been broken into at night & the horse geer [gear] stolen and a vice belonging to the Manns—suspect a man of the name
goodbye, & A– & I a minute or 2 with Marian & then off at 5 by Whitehall [road]—at Leeds by 7.
The main reason for going to York was to seek Jonathan Gray's advice on Ann Walker's Water-lane well affair and on Anne Lister's pursuit of the Rawsons’ industrialsabotage. Since the two controversies were undoubtedly linked—at least in the mind of Christopher Rawson JP—and had already triggered tales of effigy-burning, Anne Lister was pursuing a dangerous tack. Undaunted, she sought a public apology in print
specifically with industrialsabotage as a form of
social deviance, their essay recounts documented instances of the wilful impairment
of the work environment: a shop assistant who jams her till to save a few minutes of
rest from ringing up items (apparent ‘breakdowns’ as desperate ‘break-times’) or a
sweet factory worker who retools the machinery in order to create Blackpool rock
with the words ‘Fuck Off’ running through it; they study these and other ploys not for
the criminal status of the workers’ perruques and incitements but for ‘the meanings or
of modern western thinking ‘ (p. 68).
I would however be interested to consider the legacy of industrialsabotage as a component in the black political cultures of graffiti, and
more generally to pronounce the iconoclastic, ironic and scatological aesthetics alongside those expressive of pain and death. And since Gilroy
emphasises black convergence with Jewish history and experience, how
about researching the parallels between black and Jewish humour as a
response to racial terror, a survival resource and a means of resistance?
Black cultures contain an abundance
the Town Hall. At Dewsbury (where a cap of liberty was
planted on top of the market cross) parades assembled at 5.00 a.m. and toured
the communities of the Spen Valley to the north over the next three days.
Here, however, magistrates’ intervention was confined to ordering pubs and
beershops to close. In south Wales acts of industrialsabotage and ill-discipline
preceded 12 August, but the authorities forbore to enforce a return to work. In
Nottingham the Riot Act was read at a rally which then dispersed peacefully.
Rather more tumult greeted attempts to disperse
deployment of special forces, industrialsabotage, intense
diplomatic pressure and propaganda aimed at the outside world.
Only then does something close to oldstyle warfare break out,
with (seventh) the use of precision munitions, but also those
based on electro-magnetic radiation and non-lethal biological
weapons. The eighth phase is to eliminate
underlying sense of grievance and dispossession. These transcripts include
disparaging nicknames, ‘Nimrod’, ‘Misery’ or ‘Pontius Pilate’ for their
overlord, Hunter. Instances of theft are framed as acts of vengeance. When
Joe Philpot steals turpentine to rub into his aching legs and shoulders, he
mutters ‘[T]his is where we gets some of our own back’ (Tressell, 2004:
351). Even pious young Slyme, repeating the sentiment ‘we must get our
own back somehow’ (Tressell, 2004: 250), engages in industrialsabotage,
destroying perfectly good wallpaper so he can feign greater