Impressions de la Haute Mongolie

The quinquennial contemporary art blowout documenta began on the weekend in the German city of Kassel. As part of its “Artists and Filmmakers” programme it is showing the 1976 film Impressions de la Haute Mongolie, made by Salvador Dalí and José Montes-Baquer. Partly inspired by Raymond Roussel, it was playing at the exhibition devoted to the French author which I caught in January. It concerns the search for a fabled magic mushroom and features extensive nuttery from Dalí himself, with Gala naturally appearing as well; { feuilleton } has much more background on the film’s genesis and revival.

Impressions de la Haute Mongolie was made for broadcaster WDR, emerging from a golden age of invention and risk-taking for German television. On Friday evening I caught another audacious WDR production, made in 1973 by Rainer Werner Fassbinder (who as it happens died on the very same day as Gala Dalí). Welt am Draht was Fassbinder’s sole exploration of science fiction, with clear influences from Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey and Godard’s Alphaville. It’s an extraordinary visual and conceptual trip which I’m still processing and I may return to it another time.

In Kassel, Dalí and Montes-Baquer’s film is shown alongside other Dalí-related footage, including advertisements and documentaries, a number of which are available on UbuWeb. The programme is here, but I can’t guarantee the link will work. You’d think five years would be enough time to sort out your Internet presence, but documenta has one of the most obtuse and frustrating websites for a major event I’ve ever encountered. The festival’s sub-standard publicity efforts have already been noted elsewhere. In any case the programme first shows tomorrow (12 June) and then returns each Tuesday until 28 August.

Meanwhile, you can watch Impressions de la Haute Mongolie below (with Catalan subtitles and sub-par sound, but at least it’s something):



  1. Morning coffee and a lightning glance at the present post it is suddenly two hours later. I have only just commenced this delightful journee’.
    I have to stop as I cannot catch my breath.
    Roussel my new friend.
    The image of children on a tightrope silently performing Romeo and Juliet is so deeply, purely, infinitely poetic…
    I am too excited to read further. Too overwhelmed! To quote Roussel, “((((((((/)))))))” !!!

  2. Pingback: All hail the President! | Strange Flowers

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