Performa Hints at Biennial Theme With Salon on Surrealism, Dating Apps

By Rozalia Jovanovic

It isn’t every day that you get to sample pastry puffs called “Breasts of Tiresias,” have your nails painted in shades of Man Ray, or don your lobster fascinator. But last night, at “A Surrealism Salon,” the first in a series of events hosted by Performa in anticipation of its Surrealism-themed upcoming biennial, Performa 13, guests had the opportunity to do all these things.

The venue was the loft of Lia Chavez, an artist known for frequently hosting curated conversations, who also served as the evening's panel moderator. “Under Andre Breton, the surrealists began to hold discussions that linked subconscious dreams, love, and eroticism well before the so-called sexual revolution,” Chavez told the crowd, sporting a pink silk scarf tied dramatically around her neck. “These erotic exchanges broke sexual taboos.”

Intending to recreate the spirit of such historic Surrealist roundtables, Chavez posited provocative questions to her panel, which consisted of Performa 2013 artist Shana Lutker, relationship expert Heide Banks, psychotherapist Dr. Megan Fleming, Performa curator Summer Guthery, and Performa head of research and archives Marc Arthur. Together, over the course of the night, they took on questions about contemporary sexual taboos, updating the concerns of Breton and Max Ernst by turning to subjects like the “digital revolution,” the pros and cons of dating apps like Tinder, and the transformative effects of Facebook for introverts (“Boy oh boy, can I be charming on the Internet,” said a young man in a green dress, fur stole, and a bowler hat).

Perhaps the impression left by this eclectic conversation was best summed up via an interjection of Futurist and AOL “Digital Prophet” David Shing, who, standing at the back wearing clear-framed glasses with his hair swept up into a bun, noted, “It seems like a surreal discussion to me to talk about technology at a surrealist panel.”

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