The Dali Seance
Artist Jeffrey Vallance interviews the master of surrealism—in the afterlife. Jonathan Wingfield listens in.
Who fancies a chat with Leonardo da Vinci, Jackson Pollock, Frida Kahlo, Marcel Duchamp, and Vincent van Gogh? London’s Frieze Art Fair is playing host to an intimate panel discussion between the five deceased legends and allowing mere mortals to ask them questions. The improbable scenario was conceived by Los Angeles–based artist Jeffrey Vallance, who uses mediums to channel the spirits of said artists. Vallance, whose work encompasses installation, collecting, and performance, has already channeled Richard Nixon and undertaken lengthy research into the Shroud of Turin, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness Monster. As a pre-Frieze taster for W readers, he tapped self-proclaimed “psychic astrologer to the stars” Joseph Ross to channel Salvador Dalí for a discussion from beyond the grave.
Ross: Is it possible I might contact you and share some insights with those on earth?
Dali: Why should I bother? They were hardly capable of understanding my genius while I walked among them. You are irritating; go away.
Ross: But I am a psychic reader revealing the power and beauty of humanity.
Dali: A world-famous one?
Ross: Not yet.
Dali: Contact me when you are famous!
Ross: But you shared your art while you were alive even when you weren’t famous.
Dali: I was always famous. I’m busy. Bye.
Ross: Wait…wait…are you in heaven?
Dali: Heaven. Hell. What’s the difference? I created heaven and hell in my work and life.
Ross: Which is better fun?
Dali: Heaven would be very boring without hell, and hell would be very painful without heaven. Hell is heaven if you have the eyes to see.
Ross: Are you still painting?
Dali: It is not painting here. The spirit manifests into form without a brushstroke. The angels joke that I have designed much of the universe for them already, that I took over where Raphael and Botticelli and Bosch left off.
Ross: Do you hang out with any other artists?
Dali: I have grown quite fond of Bosch. We party all the time, cavorting in bordellos. Drinking is allowed here…and you don’t get hangovers! All of these artists are wild except Picasso, who is boring and serious. He’s only interested in getting back to earth and making more money. I just want to have fun. Look at this:
Ross suddenly visualizes a series of images, describing them as “the most incredibly beautiful universes, angels, and hideous but lovable monsters.”
Dali: Bosch and I did that together one drunken evening.
Ross: Wow. And you mentioned bordellos—are you having much sex there?
Dali: This may be hard to believe, but Dalí was once a prude. After you have all the sex you want in all the ways you want, you can come here and realize, Wait a second, where did that take me? But a little bit now and then is fine.
Ross: Do you keep a close eye on the contemporary art scene?
Dali: I love it all. And hate it all. The only artist I really like is Lady Gaga. She is the only one qualified to call herself a Dalí-ist. I only hope she never paints.
Dali: Art is dead. Only performance is alive. The human being is the greatest art.
Ross: Do you watch TV?
Dali: Strangely, yes. Just to rejoice in what I have left behind. The flickers are so dim compared to the movie that is eternal life. I cannot tell you the names of many shows, however. Partridge Family Crime Syndicate, is that one?
Ross: Do you have a message for your friend Amanda Lear?
Dali: Never despair, it only gets better, Amanda. I am waiting for you in paradise. I must go now…
Ross: One last question, please. What would your message be to young artists starting out today?
Dali: You need to get off your lazy asses and create beauty and love and joy. There needs to be a World War of Love. A Revolution of the Aesthetic. Open your eyes and you’ll see me. God gives me everything: all the glory of the universe, drunk like the froth on a tidal wave of champagne on the Bay of Life.…