Objects of Desire Late Event

Objects of Desire: After Hours

To celebrate our Objects of Desire exhibition, we present a special late opening exploring the legacies of Surrealism.

What to expect

Surrealism was a movement that changed the face of art and design forever. Yet the French circle most often celebrated in history books represent only a small number of its most talented proponents. Acknowledging the contributions of women, queer and non-western artists to Surrealism, this evening event celebrates those underrepresented voices who were integral in it’s formation, and explores how contemporary practitioners are upholding and subverting the movement’s legacy.


- 18.30 – 21.00: Creative Workshop – Drop-in automatic drawing

- 18.45 – 19.30: TALK – Afrosurrealism Then and Now
The term "Afro-surreal Expressionism" was coined by Amiri Baraka in his 1974 essay on Black Arts Movement avant-garde writer Henry Dumas, though an Afrosurrealism as inspired by but distinct from European Surrealism can be traced to Martiniquan Suzanne Césaire’s discussion of the “revolutionary impetus of surrealism” in the 1940s. 

- 20.10 – 20.55: TALK – Disavowels
Claude’s Cahun’s Disavowels text has become seminal in deconstructing the gender tropes that were so rigidly adhered to by the French surrealists. In this talk, we visit the surrealist artists past and present who used its motifs to turn conservation notions of gender and sexuality on their head. 

The exhibition will be open to visitors throughout the evening – please note that the event and exhibition are ticketed separately. Access to the talks will be granted to event ticket holders only.

A bar will be open in our atrium from 18.00 – 21.00. The bar and drop-in drawing sessions are accessible to members of the public, with or without an event ticket.


Alyce Mahon

Mahon is a professor of modern and contemporary art history at the University of Cambridge with a specialist interest in Surrealism, feminist art practice, and performance art. She is the author of Surrealism & the Politics of Eros 1938–1968, Eroticism & Art, and The Marquis de Sade and the Avant-Garde, and the editor of Dorothea Tanning.

Irenosen Okojie

Okojie is a leading voice in contemporary surrealist fiction, her bold novel Butterfly Fish, and short story collections Speak Gigantular and Nudibranch have won multiple awards. Vice Chair of the Royal Society of Literature, she won the 2020 AKO Caine Prize for her story, Grace Jones. She is the co-presenter of the BBC's Turn Up For The Books podcast and Contributing Editor for The White Review. In 2021, she was awarded an MBE For Services To Literature.

Book online

Booking information

Adult: £15
Student/Concession: £12
Members: £10

Tickets are non-refundable and non-exchangeable. Visit our terms & conditions page for further information.

A limited number of tickets are available through our Emerging Designers Access Scheme. If you are an emerging designer and facing financial barriers to attend, please register here.

Priority booking for members
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related exhibition

Objects of Desire: Surrealism and Design 1924 – Today

Delve into the dreamlike relationship between Surrealism and design in this century spanning celebration of surrealist objects of desire.
A Vitra Design Museum Exhibition.

Background image: Leonora Carrington, The Old Maids , 1947. © Estate of Leonora Carrington / ARS, NY and DACS, London, 2022