For France and probably for the rest of Europe as well, the experiment that began with dadaism and is now pursued by surrealism has shown itself to be, beyond all argument, the most revolutionary experiment in poetry. Its whole tendency has been to destroy the many myths about art – myths which for centuries permitted not only the ideological but also the economic exploitation of painting, sculpture, writing, etc. Consider, for example, Max Ernst’s frottages which, among other things, have effectively overturned the scale of values long maintained by art critics and experts: values largely based on perfect technique, personal touch, and the durability of the artist’s materials.
The dadaist-surrealist experiment, therefore, can and should serve the cause of working-class emancipation. Only when the proletariat has become conscious of the real meaning of the myths that uphold capitalist culture – indeed, only when the proletariat has destroyed these myths and revolutionized this culture – will working men and women be able, as a class, to proceed to their own self-development. The positive lesson of this experience in negation – that is, the dissemination of the surrealist experiment among the working class – is the only valid revolutionary poetic propaganda in our time.
Claude Cahun, 1933
From Surrealist Women – An International Anthology, ed. Penelope Rosemont, University of Texas Press 1998. Translation by Frankin Rosemont.