Dreaming Life of Leonora de la Cruz, The

Agnieszka Taborska
Dreaming Life of Leonora de la Cruz, The
  • słowo/obraz terytoria
    Gdańsk 2004
    229 x 310
    128 pages
    35 collages by Selena Kimball Smith
    ISBN 83-89405-36-9

What could be more surreal than this? While teaching somewhere in America (Providence), Agnieszka Taborska from Warsaw had such an influence on her student, Selena Kimball Smith, that she made 35 superb collages in the style of Max Ernst. Then Taborska herself wrote about all sorts of unlikely, surreal events involving a dream-world saint strangely suited to surrealism, and called it The Dreaming Life of Leonora de la Cruz. This “patron saint of diabetics, chimney-sweeps, drowning people, makers of perfume and soporifics, protects against water, coma, insomnia, somnambulism and dying in your sleep. She is the patron saint of Castile and the no longer extant Order of Slumbering Sisters. Her attributes are the moon, a bed and a little flask of scent. Her companions are a gopher, mice, rabbits, bats, moths, spiders or butterflies.” All this has been exquisitely published in Poland. Nowadays surrealism seems to be dying out in this world, washed away by daily life and advertising. But not here!
There has never been a book like this one. It not only has beautiful, amusing stories in words and pictures, but they really do render the spirit of surrealism. The most crucial elements of surrealism speak for themselves here. The world of Leonora de la Cruz is ruled by imagination and dreams, and each picture from her “life” is saturated in surprising combinations and special symbols. Now and then names appear in passing, not just ones like Breton, but even ones like the postman Cheval, builder of the Ideal Palace. We come across events and the titles of works, even quotations typical of the history of surrealism, both in the main text and especially in the “Glosses” at the end of the book. However, that doesn’t mean it can’t be read or looked at by someone who is unfamiliar with surrealism. In this book every reader is presented with a mystery (of art). And that’s highly surreal too.

- Małgorzata Baranowska