Many are the people who know the European Surrealism – this artistic movement that was born in 1924 and whose founders were Freud, Breton and Dali, among others. The Italian Futurist of Marinetti and his followers, with his ode to the revolutionary machine, the city and the movement was also important. But few people know that the echo of these vanguard movements travelled through the Atlantic to get into Mexico under the name of Stridentism (1921- 1927). Latin American poets, writers, journalists, photographers and musicians (but not painters) adopted aesthetic attitudes similar to those of the Futurists: they proclaimed the power of the future and the death of all things academic.
Manuel Maples Arce, Salvador Gallardo, Germain List Arzubide, Arqueles Vela and Luis Quintanilla were the major artists influenced by the European tendencies. But if there is a name to remember it will be that of the poet Arce, founder of the movement with the creation of the journal called Actual N° 1: it was a manifesto, an ideology statement, a mockery of the tradition. This was not intended to go in search of modernity, but the idea was that of the Italian Tabula Rasa: to create something totally new.
It was also very important to understand what were their artistic goals, because the art always expresses the concerns of the societies. In fact, Arce was so politically committed that he became the secretary general of the government in Veracruz from 1925 to 1928, during which he published the magazine Horizon.
Mexican Stridentism emerged after a major change: Mexico emerged from a cruel revolution that finished with the 39-year dictatorship of Porfirio Díaz. At this time, Europe was horrified by the atrocities of World War One. Despite the industrial contrasts between both continents, the culture crossed boundaries to become cosmopolitan and unite the people under the same spirit.
Aesthetically, Stridentism has influences of Futurism and Surrealism: these are two movements that deny the reality and seek the essence of the human beings in their own way of escape (the revolutionary attitude and the unconscious). Artistically, both proposed a literary revolution, they wanted to break with the old poetic tradition and experiment with new forms of expression. Mexican Stridentism created unfinished poems or images so the reader could participate in the creative process.
If you want to find out more about this literature, take some notes of its major works: La Señorita Etcétera and El café de nadie - two prose texts by Arqueles Vela. Poemas Radiográficos (1922) by Maples Arce is the first book of Mexican poetry with avant-garde language and urban life themes.
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