The exhibition Levitandum
, by Kathleen Fox and Patrick Hourihan, opened on Saturday 13 April in Stockholm. Several British Surrealists made a trip to Stockholm for the private view and to spend time with our Swedish comrades.
First dream: Mattias, Friday 12 April:
We are sitting in a dark brown Czech restaurant in Stockholm (Krogen Soldaten Svejk on Östgötagatan) talking about internal affairs of the Surrealist group. But a drunkard has joined us, a guest from England, a very enthusiastic "hypnotherapist" with a bright blue shirt and a cowboy hat. His name is Mr Enema. He has a shitload of ideas, and he is a bit of a pain in the ass, but quite harmless. On one occasion I come back from the toilet, and find that the food has arrived. Only the meat loaf I ordered is missing. But I see this Mr Enema happily munching away on a plate of meat loaf. It makes me furious. I pick up the plate and run to the bar, screaming that "I am not particularly sensitive, but this English guy in the blue shirt that keeps harassing us, now he has gone over the limit, he started eating my food, and just because I dislike him so much, I don't want anything to do with this food whatsoever." I am just furious, I haven't thought of what kind of rectification I would demand, I am probably more prone to see the battle as lost and this is one of those days when one has to go hungry... (and I am of course not fond of meat loaf anyway, dull grey homogenised meat, who the hell is?).
Poem: written by Mattias on the morning of Saturday 13 April, on the train on the way to the private view:
As if we would have seen, in the corner of the eye,
this statue-like male body
dressed up in a winged helmet and with snakes coiled around his legs
flinging out large black discs into calm corners of the landscape
wherever foliage is perpendicular to armoury
If such discs land on horizontal surfaces they form pits
seductive doors into the abyss
the brevity of apple sauce
On the one hand, animals forming out of rock faces
On the other hand, unseen objects forming in thin air
without tendrils, right out of the bathtubs
giving rise through capillary action to droplets
sprouting arms and legs and heads
and multiplying and forming long lines
parallel like a railroad track
one strand of earth, one strand of air
a railway into a hole in the pond
an inverted castle and massive mushrooms
Mushrooms so big and so many that we see no more movement
except starting up again, the little rifts and cracks
in this marble surface resembling air,
and the little tentacles and vines slowly growing out of them
in the corner of they eye
or in the little coffin that we brought
or in the ghost-mirror I found on the fleamarket
But this slow juggling will continue regardless of whether we watch or not
very slowly wading through igneous rock
but on top of it all, at the peak of the structural triangle,
or rather at the intersecting triangles forming the waist of this invisible hourglass
apparently just levitating there
on the fossil cracks of incomprehensible movements in the air
commemorating another era's levity ball
still slowly juggling
Second dream: Patrick, night of Wednesday 17 April:
I had a dream last night in which I was trying to converse with a young woman. She was talking to me very urgently and in French. (As I cannot speak French, I would have loved to somehow record my dream version of the language.) She was extremely pretty and spoke very clearly, giving me directions to follow her closely. We walked into what appeared to be a vast library, where she started pulling down huge dusty ancient volumes and thumbing through the pages. They were full of beautifully bizarre engravings and I was horrified when she started to tear them out from the books. We went from one place to another, one moment somewhere in Paris, then in London and some unrecognisable places. I followed her onto a train carriage, where I recognised five of the passengers as dead friends of mine. I desperately wanted to speak to them, but this pretty French adventurer kept pulling me from one place and emotion to another. Suddenly we were running along the Hammersmith Bridge, at which point I suddenly 'let go' and climbed over the edge and dived into the water. I can't quite remember what happened next, but we were both in a sewer tunnel and came to a standstill. The woman faced me and proceeded to pull away her face, which had become a mask, to reveal Erik Bohman! He was falling around laughing, but I started to laugh, because he looked so comical in drag.
Third dream: Mattias, morning of Thursday 18 April:
Tonight is the big night. Members of SLAG have prepared for this for months, if not years. Several have taken up undercover identities and lives in small university towns scattered throughout the American plains, just to stay near and stay alert. And this very evening, the stars were unambiguous (was there a meteor shower?), this is it. Leaving the carefully constructed lives behind never to return, we silently take to the roads. I find a place in a car. The driver is a young woman, very serious, and an utterly poor driver (Josie?). We take the wrong turn a couple of times, but eventually we make it to the rendezvous site, a big parking lot next to a dense thicket which seems to be the beginnings of a vast forest. But we are jumpy as hell and when it seems we have arrived first, we suddenly take off to circle the little town once more, and then, when we return, someone else is there. We step out. There is a typical horror movie atmosphere which easily occurs for real in secluded spots in warmer climates on somewhat chilly nights. There is a fog, and the choir of crickets and cicadas is hesitant.
The person who is there is Michael Richardson, and he seems to be the technical expedition leader. At least he is dressed for it, he is wearing a big thick brown knitted sweater and wellingtons, and carrying a rifle on his back. And he is very well organised too, he even brought a stack of gossip magazines for the younger among us to read so as not to disturb him while he assembles the complicated trap mechanisms. They are indeed complicated designs, some kinds of tent/cage with a chaotic latticework of light metal rods. He says between his teeth: "We're gonna trap the shit out of this place."
Fourth dream: Mattias, morning of Thursday 18 April:
There is a big but solemn party in the apartment in Abrahamsberg which is the "office" of the gallery where Levitandum took place. My (dead) grandmother is standing in one corner with my parents, the rest of us are facing them. This is their big farewell party.
It becomes silent, and my brother pokes me and tells me I have to start the singing. I am confused, I can't think of any traditional farewell song whatsoever. The silence is getting disturbing, my brother starts singing, and he is mumbling so much, and can't hit the right notes, so even though I hear it's a waltz rhythm I still don't get either the lyrics or the melody. A museum guide steps in, singing the melody out loud, with some dramatic intervals to high notes. I say loudly: "Oh, so it's a Viennese waltz, why didn't you say that to start with?" and I take a few demonstrative waltz steps on the floor, but I realise I still don't remember the words. I could go on singing "Farewell, farewell," there are a number of sailor's songs which are like that, aren't there? (But thinking about it afterwards, it seems like the tune was specifically Evert Taube's Swedish "sea eagle waltz".)
A male English surrealist follows me from there (it is partly Wedgwood Steventon, partly Bill Howe), we walk from the Solna Centrum metro station and I am apparently taking him to my parents' old apartment. We are carrying a lot of bags. We are talking about the lyrics of that farewell song, and how many of the items enumerated in it will turn out to be gone now, several decades later. Oh yes, the apartment will be almost empty, a blank slate for him to move into. In fact the song also mentioned the metro, and there is certainly not going to be a metro in the apartment.
The little oak hill between the metro exit and the football stadium is bigger and steeper than it used to be. And it's raining heavily. I warn him that some parts will be very slippery, just through the combination of the incline and the amounts of water moving on the surface. We advance carefully. But along with the water, small children come darting down the slope. I mean kids of 2–3 years of age, well wrapped up in overalls, but it still looks a bit dangerous as they are rushing down at great speed, with a risk of hitting trees and boulders, or perhaps falling off some steep rock side. And it is difficult for us to continue our walk across the slope with this bombardment of children. In fact, I am standing alone and cannot see my friend any more. And when I reach the peak of the hill, I look out over a beautiful forest landscape with dramatic hills, coniferous forest and lakes (it could possibly be northern Sweden but I am guessing more British Columbia); the suburb I was expecting is all gone!