Phosphor: A Surrealist Luminescence


In the mail this week, a living Surrealist journal from the Leeds Surrealist Group. I ordered the entire run of Phosphor and received a couple of bonus extras (thanks!). Among the contents, issue 3 has an interview with (and article by) the great Jan Svankmajer, there are various pieces about other Czech Surrealists, also an obituary for Franklin Rosemont in issue 2 with a photo that shows him meeting Bugs Bunny. If the last detail is perplexing, see the previous post.

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10 thoughts on “Phosphor: A Surrealist Luminescence”

  1. I met briefly met Jan Svankmajer once. We were holidaying in Prague and went to his shop/studio/home in Nový sv?t. I couldn’t afford any pieces but did manage to get all his short films on VHS, which weren’t then available to buy in the UK. He swept in, having been out walking his dog (a hound of some sort). I don’t speak any Czech outside of phrase-book pleasantries so beamed at him, said hello and that it was exciting and unexpected to meet him and that my friends would be jealous about the encounter (this in English). He smiled, shook my hand, thanked me and off he went.

  2. I’ve yet to visit the dream city of Prague despite fetishising the place and even having a couple of things published in the Czech Republic. There was, however, a Svankmajer print in this book which I part-designed:

    I think Jeff V. said they bought it from the Svankmajers’ shop in the city.

    I bought the blu-ray box of all his features in 2020 which I was very grateful to receive after they nearly went missing. I ordered them just before Europe was going into lockdown after which they vanished into the postal system for several weeks. It’s about time the BFI upgraded the short films to HD.

  3. This might tempt you to pop over? Taking place in Kutna Hora, so a train ride from Prague, but close to the Sedlec Ossuary and therefore ‘two flies with one swipe’ as our Czech friends say. An opportunity to see both Jan and Eva’s work, something that is rare outside of Czechia, and probably not since the large ‘Jidlo’ joint exhibition in the early 2000’s.

    All the best.

  4. That exhibition looks great; when we went in’94 we saw an exhibition of his puppets in a church crypt which tied in with the release of “Faust”. There are many opera shows around town. We saw one of “Orpheus” which featured to-scale stage machinery operated by identical twin men in period costume that puffed on meershaum pipes in order to blow through tiny plumbing to create smoke and fog effects.
    We attempted to visit that ossuary but found the small font, along with the unfamiliar letters combined with the numbers rendered the train timetable somewhat impenetrable; like trying to read things when dreaming. The Castle/Cathedral however, has a good one along with a row of Alchemist’s cottages and other delights including a beautiful stained glass designed by Alphonse Mucha.
    The über Art Nouveau Municipal House by the bridge houses some major murals by Mucha along with being like taking a stroll around the bits of the Beatles’ house that you don’t get to see in “Yellow Submarine”.
    The non-euclidean layout of the Jewish cemetery was enhanced by having a Synagog with an attic which they claimed will never be unlocked ‘in case’ the Golem is lurking within.
    We stayed in a beamed top floor apartment (read bedsit) in the medieval part of town by the Castle and prior to going, bought a couple of art and architectural guides and most importantly, a book dealing with the myths, legends and folklore of Prague from which I learned that underneath the courtyard of our lodgings was buried a dragon’s egg, the hatching of rwhich would presage the World’s end. Which was nice.
    We stayed a week but despite really going for it, left feeling that we’d only scratched the surface. Sorry for rambling, I daresay it’s changed since then but I can’t recommend it enough.

  5. Prague sounds like Rome, I was there for two weeks in the 1990s but also felt like I’d only begun to see it at all; history piled on history. That street with the alchemist houses by the castle is one of the locations in Gustav Meyrink’s very strange Golem novel.

    The Svankmajer exhibition does indeed look great. I really need to stop working for a while and travel a bit more…

  6. Did you visit the crypt of the Capuchins? The way the tableaux were assembled, I was looking for the slot to insert a Euro so the crazy barroom piano music started up, the lights flashed on and off and the bodies began jerking about to it, waving their arms like the automata you used to see in seaside arcades.
    Dario Argento’s prop museum in the basement of his film memorabilia shop was good fun too. When we bought our tickets to go down, the bloke at the counter cackled and said: “Ah, I see four are descending, but how many shall return?”. Great stuff.
    We also took a trip down to Nikki de St.Phalle’s Tarot Garden (quite the eyeful) which provided the initial impetus to go to Rome (Rome aside, of course) and visited the Monster Garden. Couldn’t believe the Trevi Fountain was turned off for repairs though.

  7. Sorry, the spam filter caught your comments for some reason. I have to keep it turned on otherwise the comments here would be filled with 20 or more of things per day.

    I didn’t see the crypt, and didn’t even know there was a Dario Argento museum, although it may not have been there when I was. I did, however, buy a tape of the uncut version of Suspiria which I think was banned at the time in Britian. I spent most of my time looking for places I knew from Piranesi’s etchings. And the Trevi was turned off when I was there as well!

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