In the 1924 Surrealist Manifesto, André Breton famously defined Surrealism as “Psychic automatism in its pure state, by which one proposes to express . . . the actual functioning of thought . . . in the absence of any control exercised by reason, exempt from any aesthetic or moral concern.”1 One device employed by the Surrealists to unlock the subconscious mind and produce hybridity in manifold forms was the cadavre exquis (exquisite corpse). This parlor game in which a folded piece of paper is passed from player to player, each drawing a head, torso, or legs without having seen the previous contributions, manifested Breton’s desire to jettison rational thought in favor of “the uncanny” as codified by Freud. In the Surrealist journal Documents (1929–30), George Bataille went further, promoting the “informe” as a state in which bodies, objects and even the lowliest materials became uncontainable, thereby destroying art’s presumed components, form and content. These twin concepts of formlessness and the uncanny are both at play in Jay Heikes’s new prints, collectively entitled Niet Voor Kinderen (Not for Children).
- André Breton, Manifestoes of Surrealism, trans. Richard Seaver and Helen R. Lane, (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1969), 26.