The immortal self: surrealist alter egos

2016-02-24T10:52:03Z (GMT) by Rachael Grew
This paper examines the use of alter-egos in the work of the Surrealist artists Marcel Duchamp, Max Ernst and Hans Bellmer. Each of these artists may be said to have re-invented their selves through these alter-egos, changing their age, gender and even their species. However, problems arise when the artist and his alter-ego become interlinked to such an extent that one cannot be wholly sure which his real self is. Is this mix-up unavoidable, or have the artists done it on purpose, and if so, what is their reason for doing this? I will argue that the motive for this inextricable blurring of self and Other through the use of the alter-ego is an expression of the desire for immortality. This desire is complimented and emphasised through the blurring of gender boundaries as well as those of self and Other, as evidenced not only by the androgynous nature of these alter-egos, but also through the fundamental links between ideologies concerning immortality and androgyny, such as alchemy. This may ultimately suggest that these artists sought to lift themselves out of the hum-drum everyday world and onto a different plane where self and Other, and male and female, were no longer opposites, thus achieving the Surrealist desire of uniting opposing forces; the dream and the real.