The medium of Leonora Carrington

A feminist haunting in the contemporary arts

Catriona McAra
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Many creative intellectuals have written or spoken of their pilgrimage to meet the English/Mexican, surrealist-associated artist and writer Leonora Carrington (1917–2011) as being a profound encounter. Since her death in May 2011, there have been a profusion of creative responses to her and her work, from theatrical productions to experimental performances, from electronica to folk music, and from fashion photography to curatorial projects.

This survey or curating of Carrington unpicks why artists, writers and performers, especially creative women, have become preoccupied with making work in her legacy. Such fixations and fandom move beyond mere influence, offering a way of approaching art-making and political themes as an attitude or Zeitgeist. The study focuses on the ways in which Carrington is recycled, in the writing of Chloe Aridjis and Heidi Sopinka, the conceptual art of Lucy Skaer and Tilda Swinton, and the performative practice of Samantha Sweeting, Lynn Lu, and Double Edge Theatre in order to speak to current feminist and eco-critical campaigns such as #MeToo and Writers Rebel.

The book’s feminist-surrealist emphasis proposes that it is Carrington, and not one of the central players in surrealism like André Breton and Max Ernst, who is chief in keeping the surrealist message alive today.

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