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November 19, 2019

Surrealists Rendered In Play-Doh: Eleanor Macnair at Elephant West

In homage to the spirit of Surrealism, not to mention disposable materials, Eleanor Macnair has rendered early twentieth-century selfies in her own...

Originating in the US, the photobooth, or photomaton, opened for business at Luna Park in Paris in the late 1920s, André Breton, the “father of the Surrealism”, and his circle were among its most enraptured users, returning frequently to the amusement park to make automatic self-portraits that show them not as untouchable artworld legends but as fallible human beings joining in with the latest social craze.

Though usually treated as throwaway, these black-and-white photobooth portraits have survived to the present day. In homage to the spirit of Surrealism, not to mention disposable materials, Eleanor Macnair has rendered nine of these early twentieth-century selfies in her own disposable material of choice: Play-Doh.

To watch over these reimagined, large-scale Technicolor portraits of André Breton, Salvador Dalí, Suzanne Muzard, Paul Eluard, Louis Aragon, Yves Tanguy, Jacques André Boiffard and Marie-Berthe Aurenche, the walls of Elephant West will be alive with gigantic Play-Doh

eyes, collaged together from Macnair’s earlier series of work. The collages have been created specifically for our Surrealism season, playing on the motif of the eye in Surrealism.

The tools are amateur: off-the-shelf Play-Doh, a chopping board, a scalpel and an empty wine bottle as a rolling pin. After the Play-Doh models are finished and photographed, they are immediately taken apart and the different colour elements returned to their respective colour pots for reuse.

This playful exhibition is open from 22 November – 5 January

Read more on ticket availability and the project background here

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