Salvador Dali, ‘Impressions of Africa’ (1938)
The rambling plot of the movie Salvador Dalí made for West German public TV in 1976, Impressions of Upper Mongolia (Homage to Raymond Roussel)—whose title has also been translated as Voyage in Outer Mongolia, and which more precisely concerns the region of Occidental Upper Mongolia—takes in golden circuit boards that replicate the painter’s brain, the giant, hallucinogenic, fictitious mushroom champlinclis histratatus domus biancus, and “the cruel mouth of Hitler.” Inspired by the writer Raymond Roussel’s Impressions of Africa, the film does not lend itself to a one-line summary; I would love to see the TV Guide entry.
José Montes Baquer, who directed the movie (though it’s “a film by Salvador Dalí,” of course), provided this useful synopsis in a 2007 interview with Tate Etc.:
The story was: in ancestral times, in order to deal with a wave of starvation, the princess was forced to administer hallucinogenic powders from a gigantic soft mushroom to her subjects. This substance produced a collective madness among the inhabitants of her principality, who created rock paintings that were discovered on boulders by a Dalínian expedition to this dreamland.
In the same interview, Baquer recalled that the collaboration began with a gift from Dalí, who spoke these words as he handed the filmmaker a plastic pen from the Hotel St. Regis with a specially treated metallic band:
In this clean and aseptic country [i.e., the USA], I have been observing how the urinals in the luxury restrooms of this hotel have acquired an entire range of rust colours through the interaction of the uric acid on the precious metals that are astounding. For this reason, I have been regularly urinating on the brass band of this pen over the past weeks to obtain the magnificent structures that you will find with your cameras and lenses. By simply looking at the band with my own eyes, I can see Dalí on the moon, or Dalí sipping coffee on the Champs Élysées. Take this magical object, work with it, and when you have an interesting result, come see me. If the result is good, we will make a film together.
I love a happy ending. Baquer got a half hour of footage out of magnifying the band on Dalí‘s magic piss pen, and the two men turned it into this cinematic act of blunt force head trauma. If you persevere, you will see the pen from the Hotel St. Regis, and you will see Dalí lament that, “in this dreadful time of pornography,” Standards and Practices won’t let him whiz on it on camera.
Continues after the jump…