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Obscure Objects of Desire Surrealism, Fetishism, and Politics$
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Johanna Malt

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199253425

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199253425.001.0001

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The Surrealist Object as Fetish

The Surrealist Object as Fetish

(p.113) 4 The Surrealist Object as Fetish
Obscure Objects of Desire Surrealism, Fetishism, and Politics

Johanna Malt

Oxford University Press

The continual play of presence and absence in surrealist objects is a function of repetition and representation, and it is in their relationship to mimesis that the multiple disavowals of those objects unfold. The starting point in this chapter is one particular, uniquely fascinating surrealist object, namely Salvador Dalí's 1933 Buste de femme rétrospectif, a work to which this chapter often returns in its analysis. The chapter proposes the fetish as a more useful critical alternative, tracing some of the many domains in which it can signify. While it would be wrong to suggest that any one theoretical notion can account for all the many, heterogeneous manifestations of surrealist activity, an extended analysis of Dalí's rétrospectif demonstrates how very helpful concepts of fetishism can be as ways of approaching surrealist uses of the object.

Keywords:   presence, absence, surrealist objects, repetition, representation, mimesis, Salvador Dalí, fetish, fetishism

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