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Abigail Susik

surrealist desire for the total reconstruction of work’s meaning and role in life. 2 The question of surrealism’s work refusal was thus intimately connected to its fundamental query about how waged labour relates to the role of the artist in society – and in turn how the artwork itself functioned when confronted with the material demands of everyday life and processes of reification. Communist agitator and surrealist André Thirion summarised the surrealist viewpoint in his 1972 memoir

in Surrealist sabotage and the war on work
Author: Abigail Susik

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.

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Abigail Susik

to battle 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, industrial sabotage

in Surrealist sabotage and the war on work
Abigail Susik

Chapter 2 presents a theory of surrealist automatism as a form of symbolically subversive anti-work. This chapter extrapolates the concept of surrealist sabotage in life and art by establishing a labour theory of surrealist automatism during the 1920s in France. In this reading, surrealist automatism becomes a form of work refusal that undermines rationalisation and its effects through tactics that resemble work-to-rule sabotage. The first section examines a series of seminal 1924 photographs of the Bureau of Surrealist Research in Paris taken by Man Ray. Utilising reception-based and historiographic methodologies, this section argues that Simone Breton, wife of André Breton, performs symbolic labour in the photograph by Man Ray when she poses at the typewriter to take dictation from the automatist Robert Desnos, or possibly from her own mind. Reviewing the scholarly debate on the role of women in surrealism that occurred in the 1980s and 1990s, the author engages in an embodied discourse on academic labour in order to tie the often previously invisible work of the female surrealists and their image to the performative labour of the surrealist automatist in general. Chapter 2 also discusses a rarely noted but quite prevalent leitmotif in French surrealist texts of the 1920s that typified automatism as a form of stenographic transcription. Addressing the performative training of the body in the process of its compliance with regulated work, Chapter 1 compares surrealist automatist tactics to the boom in the secretarial industry in Allied nations during the reconstruction period after World War I.

in Surrealist sabotage and the war on work
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Override dysfunctions and the ‘Klapheck computer’
Abigail Susik

development of artistic forms of symbolic sabotage may have resonated for Breton in the last few months of his life, before his death in September 1966. Additionally, I hope to speak broadly to the manner in which surrealist work refusal continued to affect the movement’s contested relationship to the role of the artist in society, as well as the production and dissemination of the work of art itself, in the decades following World War II. If Domínguez’s surrealist artworks frequently revealed how humans can unravel

in Surrealist sabotage and the war on work
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Autonomy and autoeroticism
Abigail Susik

-action resistance that the surrealists ardently supported during this period in the form of a still-anticipated proletarian overthrow of capitalism. The second goal is to comprehend how Domínguez’s iconography of surrealist sabotage speaks not only to the movement’s established discourse of work refusal but also to its critique of productivism, authoritarianism, and propagandistic art in both fascism and Stalin’s Communist Party. Surrealism’s call for the abolition of wage labour laid some of the groundwork for its

in Surrealist sabotage and the war on work
Sean Parson

’s productionist core, and queering their conceptions of public space. 126 COOKING UP A REVOLUTION Against productionism: work refusal, the abolition of work, and the right to work Recently I saw a meme on Facebook that stated: “you do not hate Mondays, you hate capitalism.” The sardonic comment, like all good humor, has more than a kernel of truth in it. Increasingly, polling data has been coming out showing that the majority of American’s dislike their job. A 2013 National Gallop poll found that only 30% of Americans enjoy going to work; over 50% do not enjoy their jobs

in Cooking up a revolution
Abigail Susik

will keep getting worse.’ 5 Taking these millennial remarks by Penelope Rosemont into consideration, it becomes apparent that there can be no detailed account of the surrealist work refusal without a discussion of the Chicago Surrealist Group’s decisive contributions to this discourse. Of the various manifestations of international surrealism occurring in the twentieth century, this group is one of the most directly tied to the critique of wage labour in capitalism and the activist fight for worker

in Surrealist sabotage and the war on work
Nina Holm Vohnsen

to the plan; prolonging the sickness benefit beyond what the law allows; disregarding agreements made or decisions taken at higher administrative levels. Perhaps it seems that “rebellion” is too grand a word, that perhaps “resistance” is a more accurate description? In Michael Lipsky’s classic book on “street-level bureaucrats” and their relationship to their managers he describes “resistance” as the means whereby lower-level employees can hamper their managers’ efforts through refusals to carry out particular kinds of work, refusals to take short cuts through

in The absurdity of bureaucracy