Journal of Surrealism and the Americas, Vol 8, No 1 (2014)

(Sur)real or Unreal? Antonin Artaud in the Sierra Tarahumara of Mexico

Lars Krutak


Antonin Artaud was one of the first internationally recognized writers to introduce the indigenous Tarahumara (Rarámuri) of Northwest Mexico to the world. In a series of publications based on his experiences with the tribe in 1936, Artaud left a vast visual legacy that positioned the Tarahumara within a powerful regime of representation, one that framed them within a mixed landscape of exoticism, primitivism, and peyote-inspired mysticism. This paper focuses on these literary works and interrogates the veracity of Artaud’s experiences and observations among the “pure race.” Drawing on the ethnographic record of the twentieth century and anthropological field research, it is my intention to reveal Artaud’s ability to fabricate, exaggerate, and embellish “the truth” which he so desperately desired to understand.

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