Home » Movements home page » Infrarealism


Infrarealism is a poetic movement founded by a group of around twenty young poets in Mexico City. Their best-known member was Roberto Bolaño who, though Chilean, spent a long time in Mexico. Their motto blow the brains out of the cultural establishment, came from Chilean painter Roberto Matta. Matta had been a surrealist but had been kicked out of the movement by Breton. The French intellectual Emmanuel Berl attributed the term to Philippe Soupault but Matta seems to be the first to have used it in this context.

The movement developed as a result of the Mexican Dirty War. The Mexican government of Luis Echeverría set up various cultural activities to placate Mexican youth. Two groups emerged. The first was the high culture group, whch benefited from state grants, and the other the popular,left-wing group, which despised the buying and selling of talent. The Infrarealists emerged from this group. Much of the activity consisted of sabotaging members of the former group.

Eventually they started publishing their own writings, including an anthology of their own work. Bolaño was a poet well before he became novelist. However, the group started to break when Bolaño left Mexico for Spain, partially because of a break-up with his girlfriend but also because his mother was in Barcelona. Other members also left Mexico. There was a brief revival later, without Bolaño. The movement appears in Bolaño’s Los Detectives Salvajes (The Savage Detectives).

As for what they stood for, their manifesto may or may not explain it. Much of it was a reaction to what they considered the old-fashioned ways of the current Mexican literary establishment.

Other links

Their manifesto
Roberto Bolaño and Infrarealism
Who were the Infrarealists?
Infrarrealismo (in Spanish)
La pandilla salvaje (in Spanish) (Note the Spanish means The Wild Bunch but is about the Infrarealists)
Their manifesto (in Spanish)