• Ujjwala Singh

Salvador and the Scuba Suit

In a symbolic attempt to 'dive into the human subconscious', one of the most profound names in the Surrealist art movement, Salvadore Dali, arrived at the 1936 International Surrealist Convention dressed in a scuba suit. What began as a simple exhibition meant to showcase Surrealism to the British public soon turned into an event that would be remembered for years to come.


Surrealism as an art movement began in 1924 and spread rapidly through various geographies, entertaining some of the most unique artistic minds the world has witnessed. The motive of all revolutions is to bring about change and push the boundaries of society, and the Surrealist movement was no different in this sense. Its founder, Andre Breton, wished to liberate the masses from oppressive rational thought and hoped to release their intellectual capacities. The age of enlightenment that had preceded the Surrealist movement was considered by many creatives to have repressed the irrational flow of the unconscious human mind. The responsibility of its liberation was, therefore, taken on by the likes of Marcel Duchamp, Salvadore Dali, and Picasso among many others that followed in Breton's footsteps.


Although the Surrealist movement encompassed various forms of individual expression, Salvadore Dali’s art mainly focused on hyper-realistic, almost dream-like visions. The International Surrealist Convention at which Dali spoke changed the course of British art history and intended to show the British people what Surrealist art was truly about. To make a greater impact, Dali arrived at the exhibition in a complete scuba diving suit. During the lecture, he almost suffocated to death because of his eccentric get-up, and when he moved his arms to call for help, the audience assumed that it was a part of his antics. He continued his lecture after being saved from near-death with the rest of his slides presented upside down which, after the scuba suit incident, didn’t startle many. In this way, Salvadore Dali singlehandedly orchestrated one of the most interesting moments in the history of art and, like his peers, heavily impacted the movement

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