Situationist International: Wikis

Advertisements
  
  
  
  

Note: Many of our articles have direct quotes from sources you can cite, within the Wikipedia article! This article doesn't yet, but we're working on it! See more info or our list of citable articles.

Did you know ...


More interesting facts on Situationist International

Include this on your site/blog:

Encyclopedia

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Situationist International (SI) was a restricted group of international revolutionaries founded in 1957, and which had its peak in its influence on the unprecedented general wildcat strikes of May 1968 in France.

With their ideas rooted in Marxism and the 20th century European artistic avant-gardes, they advocated experiences of life being alternative to those admitted by the capitalist order, for the fulfillment of human primitive desires and the pursuing of a superior passional quality. For this purpose they suggested and experimented with the construction of situations, namely the setting up of environments favorable for the fulfillment of such desires. Using methods drawn from the arts, they developed a series of experimental fields of study for the construction of such situations, like unitary urbanism and psychogeography.

They fought against the main obstacle on the fulfillment of such superior passional living, identified by them in advanced capitalism. Their theoretical work peaked on the highly influential book The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord. Debord argued in 1967 that spectacular features like mass media and advertising have a central role in an advanced capitalist society, which is to show a fake reality in order to mask the real capitalist degradation of human life. To overthrow such a system, the Situationist International supported the May '68 revolts, and asked the workers to occupy the factories and to run them with direct democracy, through workers' councils composed by instantly revocable delegates.

After publishing in the last issue of the magazine an analysis of the May 1968 revolts, and the strategies that will need to be adopted in future revolutions,[2] the SI was dissolved in 1972.[3]

Contents

Etymology and definitions

The sense of constructing situations is to fulfill human primitive desires and pursue a superior passional quality.[4][5] The experimental direction of situationist activity consist of setting up temporary environments that are favorable for the fulfillment of such desires.[4] Quote from SI #1:

This alone can lead to the further clarification of these simple basic desires, and to the confused emergence of new desires whose material roots will be precisely the new reality engendered by situationist constructions.

We must thus envisage a sort of situationist-oriented psychoanalysis in which, in contrast to the goals pursued by the various currents stemming from Freudianism, each of the participants in this adventure would discover desires for specific ambiences in order to fulfill them. Each person must seek what he loves, what attracts him. [...] Through this method one can tabulate elements out of which situations can be constructed, along with projects to dynamize these elements.[4]

The main obstacle to such situations is the cultural emptiness of the advanced capitalist society.

When still choosing the name for the new movement and the journal, the generic name Situationist was chosen to avoid narrowing the scope to some specialization (like architecture, psychogeography, etc.).[6]

Page 10 from issue No 6 (1961). Its displays the Cidre doux drink advertisement, which showed socializing people with slogan «But of course... they're drinking Cidre Doux». The Situationist International cited this ad as an example of Consumption and its spectacularization, and quoted the editorial from previous issue No 5: «Within the current framework of consumerist propaganda, the fundamental mystification of advertizing is to associate ideas of fulfillment with objects (televisions, or garden furniture, or automobiles, etc.)»

The first issue of the journal Internationale Situationiste defined a situationist as "having to do with the theory or practical activity of constructing situations. One who engages in the construction of situations. A member of the Situationist International".[7] The same journal defined situationism as "a meaningless term improperly derived from the above. There is no such thing as situationism, which would mean a doctrine of interpretation of existing facts. The notion of situationism is obviously devised by antisituationists."

Core principles, methods and goals

Advertisements

Anti-capitalism for human life

The Situationist International, in the 15 years from its formation in 1957 and its dissolution in 1972, is characterized by a Marxist and surrealist perspective on aesthetics and politics,[8] without separation between the two: art and politics are faced together and in revolutionary terms.[9] The SI analyzed the modern world from the point of view of everyday life.[10] The core arguments of the Situationist International were an attack on the capitalist degradation of the life of people[11][12][13] and the fake models advertised by the mass media,[14] to which the Situationist responded with alternative life experiences.[15][5] The alternative life experiences explored by the Situationists were the construction of situations, unitary urbanism, psychogeography, and the union of play, freedom and critical thinking.[16]

A major stance of the SI, was to count on the force of a revolutionary proletariat. This stance was reaffirmed very clearly in a discussion on “To what extent is the SI a political movement?”, during the Fourth SI Conference in London.[17] The SI remarked that this is a core Situationist principle, and that those that don't understand it and agree with it, are not Situationist. Reactionary forces always try to hinder the still topical power of the working class. It was not by chance that May '68, whose main feature was the largest general strike that ever stopped the economy of an advanced industrial country[18] and the first wildcat general strike in history,[18] was instead depicted by most media outlets as "student protests". That was precisely to mystify the still very topical role of a revolutionary proletariat.

Rejection of an art separated from politics

Since its foundation in 1957, the SI rejected the concept of a 20th century art that is separated from the topical political events, as that fails to grasp the present mission of the artistic avant-garde, and plays the game of reactionaries.[12][19]

The SI noted how reactionary forces forbid subversive ideas from artists and intellectuals to reach the public discourse, and how they attack the artworks that express comprehensive critique of society, by saying that art should not involve itself into politics.[12] A precise mechanism followed by conservartives to defuse the role of subversive artists and intellectuals, is to reframe them as separated from the most topical events, and divert from them the taste for the new that may dangerously appeal the masses; after such separation, such artworks are sterilized, banalized, degraded, and can be safely integrated into the official culture and the public discourse, where they can add new flavors to old dominant ideas and play the role of a gear wheel in the mechanism of the society of the spectacle.[12]

Artists, and intellectuals, that accept such compromises are rewarded by the art dealers and praised by the dominant culture.[19] The SI received many offers to sponsor “creations” that would just have a "situationist" label but a diluted political content, that would have brought things back to order and the SI back into the old fold of artistic praxis. The majority of SI continued to refuse such offers and any involvement on the conventional avant-garde artistic plane.[19]

This principle was affirmed since the founding of the SI in 1957, but the qualitative step of resolving all the contradictions of having situationists that make concessions to the cultural market, was made with the exclusion of the Spur group in 1962.[19]

Influences of Jorn and Debord

During the first four years from its formation in 1957, the pivot of the Situationist International was the collaboration between Guy Debord and Asger Jorn.[20]

Influence of Jorn

The role of the artists in the SI was of great significance, particularly Asger Jorn, Constant Nieuwenhuys and Pinot Gallizio.[16] Asger Jorn, who invented Situgraphy and Situlogy, had the social role of catalyst and team leader among the members of the SI between 1957 and 1961.[21] Jorn's texts Critique Of Economic Policy, Originality and Magnitude and Open Creation and its Enemies, published in Internationale Situaionniste 4 and 5 established Situgraphology (the study of situations) as a critique of Marxism in 1960, following on from the arguments in Guy Debord's Report on the Construction of Situations and on the International Situationist Tendency’s Conditions of Organization and Action of 1957.

In Critique of Economic Policy, originally published in French in 1959 by the Internationale Situationniste, Jorn critiques Marx's dialectical method in Das Kapital, introducing the idea of situations. In later work, Jorn lays out the idea of Situgraphy, Situlogy and even Situmetry. The idea of the Situation is drawn from Henri Poincare's Situ-Analysis which went on to be translated as Topology and ties into Niels Bohr's ideas of complementarity.

Jorn was also influential on not only the SI but also the Situationist Bauhaus and the 2nd International as well as the Antinational. Even after Jorn's direct involvement with the SI, he continued to finance the organisation through sales of paintings.[22] Journalist Stewart Home, who favors the Scandinavian "Nashist" group which was expelled from the SI in 1962, and considers Debord a "mystic, an idealist, a dogmatist and a liar",[23] wrote that while the 2nd Situationist International and the Situationist Antinational sought to challenge the separation of art and politics from everyday life, Debord and the so-called 'specto-situationists'[24] sought to concentrate solely on abstract political aims.[25] The development of core ideas in the SI can be seen as a move from practical methods such as unitary urbanism, détournement, situgraphy - before the Debordist expulsions of the 2nd SI - to one of abstract theory (principally theory of the spectacle), after the expulsions.[26] In the early times of the SI, the interest for artistic experimentation prevailed, while later the focus was on revolutionary politics.[27]

Influence of Debord

Caption: «Long live to the wildcat strike!» From Situationist International No 7, p.15

Many consider Guy Debord the main intellectual of the SI.[28][29][30] Debord's work The Society of the Spectacle (1967) established Situationism as a Marxist critical theory.[citation needed] The Society of the Spectacle is widely recognized as the main and most influential Situationist essay.[31] The concept of revolution created by the Situationist International was anti-capitalist,[32][33][34] Marxist, Young Hegelian,[35] and from the very beginning in the 50s, remarkably differently from the established Left, anti-Stalinist and against all repressive regimes.[36]

Debord starts his 1967 work with a revisited version of the first sentence with which Marx began his critique of classical political economy, Das Kapital.[37][38] In a later essay, Debord will argue that his work was the most important social critique since Marx's work. Drawing from Marx, which argued that under a capitalist society the wealth is degraded to an immense accumulation of commodities, Debord argues that in advanced capitalism, life is reduced to an immense accumulation of spectacles, a triumph of mere appearance where "all that once was directly lived has become mere representation".[39][40] The spectacle, which according to Debord is the core feature of the advanced capitalist societies,[41] has its "most glaring superficial manifestation" in the advertising-mass media-marketing complex.[42]

Elaborating on Marx's argument that under capitalism our lives and our environment are continually depleted, Debord adds that the Spectacle is the system by which capitalism tries to hide such depletion. Debord added that, further than the impoverishment in the quality of life,[11][16] our psychic functions are altered, we get a degradation of mind and also a degradation of knowledge.[43] In the spectacular society, knowledge is not used anymore to question, analyze, or resolve contradictions, but to assuage reality. Such argument on the Spectacle as a mask[44] of a degrading reality has been elaborated by many Situationist artists, producing détournements of advertising where instead of a shiny life the crude reality was represented.[citation needed]

History

Earlier groups

«First, we believe that the world must be changed. We desire the most liberatory possible change of the society and the life in which we find ourselves confined. We know that such change is possible by means of pertinent actions.»

The SI was formed at a meeting in the Italian village of Cosio d'Arroscia on 28 July 1957 with the fusion of several extremely small avant-garde artistic tendencies: the Lettrist International, the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus (an off-shoot of COBRA), and the London Psychogeographical Association. The group later drew ideas from the left communist group Socialisme ou Barbarie.

Already in 1950, the Lettrist International was very active in perpetrating public outrages such as the Notre-Dame Affair. At the Easter mass at Notre Dame de Paris, they infiltrated Michel Mourre, who, dressed like a monk, "stood in front of the altar and read a pamphlet proclaiming that God was dead".[45][46]

In June 1957 Debord wrote the manifesto of the Situationist International, titled Report on the Construction of Situations. This manifesto plans a systematic rereading of Karl Marx and advocates a cultural revolution in western countries.[12]

Members

International edition of the Situationist Times

The most prominent French member of the group, Guy Debord, has tended to polarise opinion. Other members included the Dutch painter Constant Nieuwenhuys, the Italo-Scottish writer Alexander Trocchi, the English artist Ralph Rumney (sole member of the London Psychogeographical Association, Rumney suffered expulsion relatively soon after the formation of the Situationist International), the Scandinavian artist Asger Jorn (who after parting with the SI also founded the Scandinavian Institute of Comparative Vandalism), the architect and veteran of the Hungarian Uprising Attila Kotanyi, the French writer Michele Bernstein, and Raoul Vaneigem. Debord and Bernstein later married.

Mystification of Jorn's fictitious resignation

From 1961, Jorn began to receive international recognition and legitimation for his art works, the only one among the Situationists. The SI members foresaw that, the mechanisms of the society of the spectacle that transforms artistic creators in "lookouts of the spectacularization of culture", could have created serious and unnecessary problems to the organization, and that Jorn's position could have been exploited to depict the SI stance for the destruction of the society of the spectacle as hypocritical.

At the following conference of the Central Council of the SI, in April 1961, Jorn therefore presents a quit letter, in which confirms his total agreement with the SI. This was just an "official" resignation, and he just switched to an undercover participation, under the alias George Keller.

Art historians mystified these events presenting them as the split of the head of the "artistic wing" of the SI, supposedly in conflict with the "political wing" presumed to be headed by Debord. The authors of such mystification didn't even notice the suspect similarities between the resigning Jorn and the "new member" Keller.[47][48]

Conferences

The founding conference was held in Cosio d'Arroscia in July 1957, and is covered in SI issue #1. Six months later, the Second Conference met in Paris on the 25 and 26 January, also covered in SI issue #1.[49] The Third Conference was held in Munich, 17-20 April 1959, fifteen months after the Second Conference in Paris. It is covered on the SI issue #3.[50]

May 1968

The Situationists played a preponderant role in the May 1968 uprisings,[35] and to some extent their political perspective and ideas fueled such crisis,[35][51][52] providing a central theoretic foundation.[53][54][55][56][57][58] This has now been widely acknowledged as a fact by studies of the period,[59][60][61][62][63][64] what is still wide open to interpretation is the "how and why" that happened.[35] Charles de Gaulle, in the aftermath televised speech of June 7, acknowledged that "This explosion was provoked by groups in revolt against modern consumer and technical society, whether it be the communism of the East or the capitalism of the West."[65]

They also made up the majority in the Occupation Committee of the Sorbonne.[35] An important event leading up to May 1968 was the scandal in Strasbourg in December 1966.[66] The Union Nationale des Étudiants de France declared itself in favor of the SI's theses, and managed to use public funds to publish Mustapha Khayati's pamphlet On the Poverty of Student Life.[67] Thousands of copies of the pamphlet were printed and circulated and helped to make the Situationists well known throughout the nonstalinist left.

Quotes from two key situationist books, Debord's The Society of the Spectacle (1967) and Khayati's On the Poverty of Student Life (1966), were written on the walls of Paris and several provincial cities.[66] This was documented in the collection of photographs published in 1968 by Walter Lewino, L'immagination au pouvoir.[2]

Those who followed the "artistic" view of the SI might view the evolution of the SI as producing a more boring or dogmatic organization.[citation needed] Those following the political view would see the May 1968 uprisings as a logical outcome of the SI's dialectical approach: while savaging present day society, they sought a revolutionary society which would embody the positive tendencies of capitalist development. The "realization and suppression of art" is simply the most developed of the many dialectical supersessions which the SI sought over the years. For the Situationist International of 1968, the world triumph of workers councils would bring about all these supersessions.

Though the SI were a very small group, they were expert self-propagandists, and their slogans appeared daubed on walls throughout Paris at the time of the revolt. SI member René Viénet's 1968 book Enragés and Situationists in the Occupations Movement, France, May '68 gives an account of the involvement of the SI with the student group of Enragés and the occupation of the Sorbonne.

The occupations of 1968 started at the University of Nanterre and spread to the Sorbonne. The police tried to take back the Sorbonne and a riot ensued. Following this a general strike was declared with up to 10 million workers participating. The SI originally participated in the Sorbonne occupations and defended barricades in the riots. The SI distributed calls for the occupation of factories and the formation of workers’ councils,[2] but, disillusioned with the students, left the university to set up The Council For The Maintenance Of The Occupations (CMDO) which distributed the SI’s demands on a much wider scale. After the end of the movement, the CMDO disbanded.

Situationist prank

Notre-Dame Affair on National TV

The Notre-Dame Affair was an intervention performed by members of the radical wing of the Lettrist movement (Michel Mourre, Serge Berna, Ghislain Desnoyers de Marbaix and Jean Rullier), on Easter Sunday, April 9, 1950, at Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, while the mass was aired lived on National TV. Michel Mourre, dressed in the habit of a Dominican monk and backed by his co-conspirators, chose a quiet moment in the Easter High Mass to climb to the rostrum and declaim before the whole congregation a blasphemous anti-sermon on the death of God, penned by Serge Berna.[68][69][70]

Strasbourg scandal

French cover of On the Poverty of Student Life

Taking advantage of the apathy of their colleagues, five "Pro-situs", Situationist-influenced students, had infiltrated the University of Strasbourg's student union in November 1966 and began scandalising the authorities.[71][72] Their first action was to form an "anarchist appreciation society" called The Society for the Rehabilitation for Karl Marx and Ravachol; next they appropriated union funds to flypost "Return of the Durruti Column", Andre Bertrand's détourned comic strip.[72] They then invited the Situationists to contribute a critique of the University of Strasbourg, and On the Poverty of Student Life, written by Tunisian Situationist Mustapha/Omar Khayati was the result.[72]

The students promptly proceeded to print 10,000 copies of the pamphlet using university funds and distributed them during a ceremony marking the beginning of the academic year. This provoked an immediate outcry in the local, national and international media.[72]

Sanguinetti's Report to save capitalism

By 1972, Gianfranco Sanguinetti and Guy Debord were the only two remaining members of the SI. Working with Debord, in August 1975, Sanguinetti wrote a pamphlet titled Rapporto veridico sulle ultime opportunità di salvare il capitalismo in Italia (Eng: The Real Report on the Last Chance to Save Capitalism in Italy), which (inspired by Bruno Bauer) proported to be the cynical writing of "Censor", a powerful industrialist. The pamphlet was to show how the ruling class of Italy supported the Piazza Fontana bombing and other mass slaughter, for the higher goal of defending the capitalist status quo from the communist claims. The pamphlet was mailed to 520 of Italy's most powerful individuals. It was received as genuine, and powerfully politicians, industrialists and journalist praised its content and guessed on the identity of its high profile author. After reprinting the tract into a small book, Sanguinetti revealed himself to be the true author. Scandal raised after the revelation, as it successfully exposed the truth and hypocrisy on the mass slaughters,[73] and under pressure from Italian authorities, Sanguinetti left Italy in February 1976, and was denied entry to France.[citation needed]

Others

Film Hurlements en faveur de Sade (Howls for Sade) (1952) by Guy Debord, had 24 minutes of black screen. Book Mémoires (1959) by Guy Debord and Asger Jorn had the cover made of sandpaper.

Efforts to minimize the political and social role of the S.I.

The S.I. poses a challenge to the model of political action of a portion of the Left,[74] the "established Left" and "Left opinion-makers".[35] The first challenging aspect is the fueling role that the S.I. had in the up-heavals of the political and social movements of the sixties,[59][52] up-heavals for which much is still at stake and which many foresee as recurring in the 21st century. The second challenging aspect,[52] is the comparison between the Situationists marxist theory of the Society of the spectacle, which is still very topical thirty years later,[59][15] and the current status of the theories supported by the 'established Left' in the same period, like Althusserianism, Maoism, workerism, Freudo-Marxism and others.[59]

The response of a portion of the Left to such challenge, has been an attempt to silence and misinterpret, to "turn the SI safely into an art movement, and thereby to minimize its role in the political and social movements of the sixties."[52][74]

The core aspect of the revolutionary perspectives, and the political theory, of the Situationist International, has been neglected by some commentators,[75] which either limited themselves to an apolitical reading of the situationist avant-garde art works, or dismissed the Situationist political theory. Examples of this are Simon Sadler's The Situationist City,[75] and the accounts on the S.I. published by the New Left Review.[35]

The concept of revolution created by the Situationist International was anti-capitalist,[33][34][32] Marxist, Young Hegelian,[35] and from the very beginning in the 50s, remarkably differently from the established Left, anti-Stalinist and against all repressive regimes.[36] The S.I. called on May 1968 for the formation of Workers councils,[2] and someone has argued that they were aligned with council communism.[citation needed]

There was no separation between the artistic and the political perspectives.[9] For instance, Asger Jorn never believed in a conception of the Situationist ideas as exclusively artistic and separated from political involvement. He was at the root and at the core of the Situationist International project, fully sharing the revolutionary intentions with Debord.[76][77]

Political position on the Left

The Situationist International criticized the Communists from a position further on the Left. A crucial distinction with the communists, which were often supportive of authoritarian practices, was the situationist advocacy of workplace democracy; the workplace democracy positions are considered more left-wing than Communism and sometimes considered as part of Left Communism; the workplace democracy tradition originated with the so called Council Communists, with which the situationists shared most of the ideas. The Situationist International was differentiated from the Anarchists, although they have frequently been associated with them, and belongs instead to the Marxist tradition.

Former situationists Clark and Nicholson-Smith (British section), argued that the portion of the moderate Left that is the "established Left", and its "Left opinion-makers", usually addressed contemptuously the SI as 'hopelessly young-Hegelian'.[35]

Glossary of key concepts and ideas in Situationist theory

A recurring argument against Situationist theory has been on its supposed difficulty. Here is a list of definitions of some of its central concepts and ideas:

  • Situgraphy and Situlogy: Drawing from the artistic Lettrist praxis of hypergraphy as well as older developments in mathematics and topology in Henri Poincare's Analysis Situs, the main theorist of the SI Asger Jorn formulated theories of plastic, anti-Euclidean geometry and topology which was at the heart of Situationist critiques of urbanism and other manifestations of contemporary capitalist culture and politics.
  • The Situation: this concept, central to the SI, was defined in the first issue of their journal as "A moment of life concretely and deliberately constructed by the collective organization of a unitary ambiance and a game of events." As the SI embraced dialectical Marxism, the situation came to refer less to a specific avant-garde practice than to the dialectical unification of art and life more generally. Beyond this theoretical definition, the situation as a practical manifestation thus slipped between a series of proposals. The SI thus were first led to distinguish the situation from the mere artistic practice of the beat happening, and later identified it in historical events such as the Paris Commune or the Watts riots, and eventually not with partial insurrections, but with total revolution itself.
  • The Spectacle: Debord's 1967 book The Society of the Spectacle attempted to provide the SI with a Marxian critical theory. The concept of 'the spectacle' expanded to all society the Marxist concept of reification drawn from Marx's Das Kapital, entitled "The Fetishism of Commodities and the Secret thereof" and developed by Georg Lukács. This was an analysis of the logic of commodities whereby they achieve an ideological autonomy from the process of their production, so that “social action takes the form of the action of objects, which rule the producers instead of being ruled by them.” (Marx, Capital) Developing this analysis of the logic of the commodity, The Society of the Spectacle generally understood society as divided between the passive subject who consumes the spectacle and the reified spectacle itself.
  • Unitary urbanism: "Unitary urbanism is one of the central concerns of the SI" (Internationale Situationniste #3, December 1959). This was originally developed by the Lettrist International and the International Movement For An Imaginist Bauhaus, and then taken up by the SI. This development marked a move away from metagraphy and towards the use of Dérive and psychogeography and also situgraphy. Following expulsions and the move towards the theory of the spectacle, UU became a lesser concern for the SI in later years. See separate articles on Unitary urbanism, Dérive, and psychogeography.
  • Recuperation: "To survive, the spectacle must have social control. It can recuperate a potentially threatening situation by shifting ground, creating dazzling alternatives- or by embracing the threat, making it safe and then selling it back to us" – Larry Law, from The Spectacle – The Skeleton Keys, a 'Spectacular Times pocket book.
  • Détournement: "short for: detournement of pre-existing aesthetic elements. The integration of past or present artistic production into a superior construction of a milieu. In this sense there can be no Situationist painting or music, but only a Situationist use of these means.", Internationale Situationiste Issue 1, June 1958.

Quotations

  • "Don't ever work" - Ne travaillez jamais - Debord's graffiti, rue de Seine, Paris, 1953.[78][79]
  • "Live without dead time" - Vivez sans temps mort - Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968
  • "Be realistic - demand the impossible!" - Soyez réalistes, demandez l'impossible! - Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968
  • "Beneath the paving stones - the beach!" - Sous les pavés, la plage! - Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968
  • "Boredom is counter-revolutionary." - Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968
  • "I take my desires for reality because I believe in the reality of my desires" - Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968
  • "What beautiful and priceless potlatches the affluent society will see – whether it likes it or not! – when the exuberance of the younger generation discovers the pure gift; a growing passion for stealing books, clothes, food, weapons or jewelry simply for the pleasure of giving them away"- Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution of Everyday Life
  • "Down with a world in which the guarantee that we will not die of starvation has been purchased with the guarantee that we will die of boredom." - Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution Of Everyday Life
  • "People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth"- Raoul Vaneigem, The Revolution Of Everyday Life

Reception

Critics of the Situationists frequently assert that their ideas are not in fact complex and difficult to understand, but are at best simple ideas expressed in deliberately difficult language, and at worst actually nonsensical. For example, anarchist Chaz Bufe asserts in Listen Anarchist! that "obscure situationist jargon" is a major problem in the anarchist movement.[80]

Related groups

Relations with the Spur group (German painters)

The Spur group was an artistic collaboration formed by German painters. The Spur group and the Situationist International, collaborated between 1959 and 1961, when the Spur members joined the SI. After a series of core divergences during 1960-1, the Spur members were officially excluded from the SI on February 10, 1962.[81]

The events that led to the esclusion were: during The Fourth SI Conference in London (December 1960), in a discussion about the political nature of the SI, Spur group disagreed with the core situationist stance of counting on a revolutionary proletariat;[17] the accusation that their activities were based on a "systematic misunderstanding of situationist theses";[81] the understanding that at least one Spur member, sculptor Lothar Fischer, and possibly the rest of the group, were not actually understanding and/or agreeing with the situationist ideas, but were just using the SI to achieve success in the art market.[81][82] the betrayal, in the Spur #7 issue, of a common agreement on the Spur and SI pubblications.[83][84]

The exclusion was the recognition that the Spur group's "principles, methods and goals" were significantly in contrast with those of the SI.[19][85] This split however was not a declaration of hostilities, as in other cases of SI exclusions. A few months after the exclusion, in the context of judicial prosecution against the group by the German state, Debord expressed his esteem to the Spur group, calling it the only significant artist group in Germany since WW2, and regarding it at the level of the avant-gardes in other countries.[86]

Situationist Bauhaus

The Danish brothers Jørgen Nash and Asger Jorn formed the Situationist Bauhaus in 1960, purchasing a farm in southern Sweden, where they continued with various artistic and political activities.[citation needed]

Second Situationist International

The SI experienced splits and expulsions from its beginning. The most prominent split in the group, in 1962, resulted in the Paris section retaining the name Situationist International while excluding the German section, which as Gruppe SPUR had merged into the SI in 1959. The excluded group declared themselves The Second Situationist International and based themselves at the Bauhaus in Sweden.[citation needed]

While the entire history of the Situationists was marked by their impetus to revolutionize life, the split was characterised by Vaneigem (of the French section),[citation needed] and by many subsequent critics, as marking a transition in the French group from the Situationist view of revolution possibly taking an "artistic" form to an involvement in "political" agitation. Asger Jorn continued to fund both groups with the proceeds of his works of art.

One way or another, the currents which the SI took as predecessors saw their purpose as involving a radical redefinition of the role of art in the twentieth century. The Situationists themselves took a dialectical viewpoint,[citation needed] seeing their task as superseding art, abolishing the notion of art as a separate, specialized activity and transforming it so it became part of the fabric of everyday life. From the Situationist's viewpoint, art is revolutionary or it is nothing. In this way, the Situationists saw their efforts as completing the work of both Dada and surrealism while abolishing both.

The Situationist Antinational was published in New York City for a short while in the 1970s, after the dissolution of the SI in 1972. Those responsible were members of the American section of the SI, as well as members of the Situationist Bauhaus and the Second Situationist International.

Influence and legacy

evoL PsychogeogrAphix 2003

Situationist ideas have continued to echo profoundly through many aspects of culture and politics in Europe and the USA. Even in their own time, with limited translations of their dense theoretical texts, combined with their very successful self-mythologisation, the term 'situationist' was often used to refer to any rebel or outsider, rather than to a body of surrealist-inspired Marxist critical theory. As such, the term 'Situationist' and those of 'spectacle' and 'detournement' have often been decontextualised and recuperated.

In political terms, in the 1960s and 1970s elements of Situationist critique influenced anarchists,[87] Communists and other leftists, with various emphases and interpretations which combine Situationist concepts more or less successfully with a variety of other perspectives. Examples of these groups include: in Amsterdam, the Provos; in the UK, King Mob, the producers of Heatwave magazine (who later briefly joined the SI), and the Angry Brigade. In the US, groups like Black Mask (later Up Against the Wall Motherfuckers), The Weathermen, and the Rebel Worker group also explicitly employed their ideas.

Starting in the 1970s, Situationist ideas were taken up by a number of anarchist theorists, such as Fredy Perlman, Bob Black, Hakim Bey, and John Zerzan, who developed the SI's ideas in various directions away from Marxism. These theorists were predominantly associated with the magazines Fifth Estate, Anarchy: A Journal of Desire Armed, and Green Anarchy. Later anarchist theorists such as the CrimethInc. collective also claim Situationist influence.[87] During the early 1980s English anarchist Larry Law produced a series of 'pocket-books' under the name of Spectacular Times which aimed to make Situationist ideas more easily assimilated into the anarchist movement.

Situationist urban theory, defined initially by the members of the Lettrist International as 'Unitary Urbanism', was extensively developed through the behavioural and performance structures of The Workshop for Non-Linear Architecture during the 1990s. The re-emergence of the London Psychogeographical Association also inspired many new pscyhogeographical groups including Manchester Area Psychogeographic. The LPA and the Neoist Alliance along with the Luther Blissett (nom de plume) Project came together to form a New Lettrist International with a specifically Communist perspective. Around this time, Unpopular Books and the LPA released some key texts including new translations of Asger Jorn's work.

Around this time also, groups such as Reclaim the Streets and Adbusters have, respectively, seen themselves as 'creating situations' or practicing detournement on advertisements.

In cultural terms, the SI's influence has been even greater, if more diffuse. The list of cultural practices which claim a debt to the SI is almost limitless, but there are some prominent examples:

  • Situationist ideas exerted a strong influence on the design language of the punk rock phenomenon of the 1970s. To a significant extent this came about due to the adoption of the style and aesthetics and sometimes slogans employed by the Situationists (though these latter were often second hand, via English pro-Situs such as King Mob and Jamie Reid). In the late 1970s, Factory Records owner Tony Wilson was known to have been influenced by these ideas. One Factory Records band influenced by the SI was The Durutti Column, which took its name from Andre Bertrand's collage Le Retour de la Colonne Durutti.[88] Bertrand, in turn, took his title from the anarchist group of the same name of the Spanish Civil War. In 1978, the U.S. group the Feederz was formed and exhibited a more direct and conscious influence. They became known for their extensive use of the Situationist tactic of 'detournement' and for their lack of hesitation to provoke their audience in expounding Situationist themes.[89] Other musical artists have included buzzwords from the SI's critical theory in their lyrics, such as the Manic Street Preachers, the Nation of Ulysses, and Joan of Arc. The album Happy Suicide, Jim! by The Love Kills Theory overtly draws on situationist texts in many of the songs. Situationist theory experienced a vogue in the late '90s hardcore punk scene, being referenced by Orchid, His Hero Is Gone, and CrimethInc..
  • Situationist practices allegedly continue to influence underground street artists such as Banksy, gHOSTbOY, Borf, NeverWork, and Mudwig, whose artistic interventions and subversive practice can be seen on advertising hoardings, street signs, and walls throughout Europe and the United States.
  • One can also trace situationist ideas within the development of other avant-garde threads such as Neoism, Seahorse Liberation Army, Nation of Ulysses, Libre Society, and Mark Divo.
  • Some hacker related e-zines, which like samizdat were distributed via email and FTP over early internet links and BBS quoted and developed ideas coming from SI. A few of them were N0 Way, N0 Route, UHF, in France; and early Phrack, CDC in the US. More recently, writers such as Thomas de Zengotita in "Mediated" wrote something which holds the spirit of the Situationists, describing the society of the "roaring zeroes" (i.e. 2000-).

Works

SI writings

Twelve issues of the main French edition of journal Internationale Situationniste were published, each issue edited by a different individual or group, including: Guy Debord, Mohamed Dahoiu, Giuseppe Pinot-Gallizio, Maurice Wyckaert, Constant Nieuwenhuys, Asger Jorn, Helmut Sturm, Attila Kotanyi, Jørgen Nash, Uwe Lausen, Raoul Vaneigem, Michèle Bernstein, Jeppesen Victor Martin, Jan Stijbosch, Alexander Trocchi, Théo Frey, Mustapha Khayati, Donald Nicholson-Smith, René Riesel, and René Viénet.

Classic Situationist texts include: On the Poverty of Student Life, Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord, and The Revolution of Everyday Life by Raoul Vaneigem.

The first English-language collection of SI writings, although poorly and freely translated, was Leaving The 20th century edited by Christopher Gray. The Situationist International Anthology edited and translated by Ken Knabb, collected numerous SI documents which had previously never been seen in English.[90]

Works on the SI

Mirella Bandini wrote a book on the origins of the SI, tracing back since the CoBrA group. Previously, she also wrote the short essay Pinot Gallizio and the Experimental Laboratory at Alba, published as introduction to a Gallizio collection. In a private letter to Sanguinetti, Debord referred to the essay on Gallizio as "honest but unintelligent".[91]

See also

References

Notes

  1. ^ Intro from issue #5 where the image appeared. The quote on the renowned criminals of Limehouse is from Spur No 2.
  2. ^ a b c d The Beginning of an Era (part1, part 2) Situationist International #12, 1969
  3. ^ Karen Elliot (2001-06-01). "Situationism in a nutshell". Barbelith Webzine. http://www.barbelith.com/cgi-bin/articles/00000011.shtml. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  4. ^ a b c Article Preliminary Problems in Constructing a Situation, from S.I. #1
  5. ^ a b Debord 2006 Report .... Quote:

    Toward a Situationist International
    Our central idea is the construction of situations, that is to say, the concrete construction of momentary ambiences of life and their transformation into a superior passional quality.

  6. ^ Letter from Guy Debord to Piero Simondo, 22 August 1957. Letter concerning "situationism" and the publication of Eristica
  7. ^ Ken Knabb, translator. "Definitions (Internationale Situationniste #1 June 1958)". Situationist International online. http://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/si/definitions.html. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  8. ^ Francesco Poli (1991) p.63. Quote:

    Nel 1972, quindici anni dopo la sua fondazione ... l'Internazionale Situazionista si scioglie in quanto organizzazione. Durante questi anni, il movimento, caratterizzato da un'ideologia dell'estetico e del politico di matrice marxista e surrealista, produce una quantita' consistente di scritti teorici, opuscoli, libri, film e lavori artistici nel campo della pittura e della progettazione di interventi nella dimensione urbana. Di grande rilievo e' il ruolo degli artisti, tra cui in particolare Asger Jorn, Constant e Pinot Gallizio;

  9. ^ a b Bandini 1977, quote:

    Per la prima volta dopo il surrealismo, arte e politica vengono affrontate insieme in termini rivoluzionari. ... L'idea chiave e' quella della 'costruzione di situazioni' ... L'urbanesimo unitario ... Fondamentale e' la 'ricerca psicogeografica': studio delle leggi esatte e degli effetti precisi che l'ambiente geografico, coscientemente disposto o no, attua direttamente sul comportamento affettivo degli individui.

  10. ^ Richard Gombin (1971), chap.3, quote:

    the IS was to attempt an analysis of the modern world from the point of view of everyday life. ... The critique of everyday life is not intended to be purely an analysis; it is supposed to lead on to a revolutionary praxis. ... On SI analysis of consumerism: This process causes an accelerating degradation of everyday life.

  11. ^ a b Debord G.E. (1967) : thesis 6, 8, 10, 17, 19, 30, 37, 60, 68, 114, 134
  12. ^ a b c d e Debord 2006 Report on the Construction of Situations. Quote:

    We are going through a crucial historical crisis in which each year poses more acutely the global problem of rationally mastering the new productive forces and creating a new civilization. Yet the international working-class movement, on which depends the prerequisite overthrow of the economic infrastructure of exploitation, has registered only a few partial local successes. Capitalism has invented new forms of struggle (state intervention in the economy, expansion of the consumer sector, fascist governments) while camouflaging class oppositions through various reformist tactics and exploiting the degenerations of working-class leaderships. In this way it has succeeded in maintaining the old social relations in the great majority of the highly industrialized countries, thereby depriving a socialist society of its indispensable material base. In contrast, the underdeveloped or colonized countries, which over the last decade have engaged in the most direct and massive battles against imperialism, have begun to win some very significant victories. These victories are aggravating the contradictions of the capitalist economy and (particularly in the case of the Chinese revolution) could be a contributing factor toward a renewal of the whole revolutionary movement. Such a renewal cannot limit itself to reforms within the capitalist or anticapitalist countries, but must develop conflicts posing the question of power everywhere.

    The shattering of modern culture is the result, on the plane of ideological struggle, of the chaotic crisis of these antagonisms. The new desires that are taking shape are presented in distorted form: present-day resources could enable them to be fulfilled, but the anachronistic economic structure is incapable of developing these resources to such ends. Ruling-class ideology has meanwhile lost all coherence because of the depreciation of its successive conceptions of the world (a depreciation which leads the ruling class to historical indecision and uncertainty); because of the coexistence of a range of mutually contradictory reactionary ideologies (such as Christianity and social-democracy); and because of the mixing into contemporary Western culture of a number of only recently appreciated features of several foreign civilizations. The main goal of ruling-class ideology is therefore to maintain this confusion.
    ...
    Our Immediate Tasks
    We must call attention, among the workers parties or the extremist tendencies within those parties, to the need to undertake an effective ideological action in order to combat the emotional influence of advanced capitalist methods of propaganda. On every occasion, by every hyper-political means, we must publicize desirable alternatives to the spectacle of the capitalist way of life, so as to destroy the bourgeois idea of happiness. At the same time, taking into account the existence, within the various ruling classes, of elements that have always tended (out of boredom and thirst for novelty) toward things that lead to the disappearance of their societies, we should incite the persons who control some of the vast resources that we lack to provide us with the means to carry out our experiments, out of the same motives of potential profit as they do with scientific research.

  13. ^ Bandini & 1998 Preface to second edition, quote:

    [...] reagire all'avvilita condizione dell'uomo nel sistema capitalista.

  14. ^ Debord 2006 Report .... Quote:

    So far, the ruling class has succeeded in using the leisure the revolutionary proletariat wrested from it by developing a vast industrial sector of leisure activities that is an incomparable instrument for stupefying the proletariat with by-products of mystifying ideology and bourgeois tastes. The abundance of televised imbecilities is probably one of the reasons for the American working class’s inability to develop any political consciousness.

  15. ^ a b Luttazzi 2008

    Question: "Le profezie di Guy Debord a proposito della Società dello spettacolo si avverano sotto i nostri occhi: il governo si occupa della «percezione» delle cose da parte dei cittadini più che della sostanza materiale, dei bisogni, dei fatti. L’invenzione dell’«emergenza sicurezza» è un caso lampante. Come pensi ci si debba muovere in questo scenario?"
    Answer: "Come suggeriva Debord: con pratiche di vita alternative."

  16. ^ a b c Debord harshly denounced the degradation in the quality of life under capitalism, also in his 1957 Report. Poli 1991 said on Debord's Report:

    Con il suo Rapporto... del 1957, Debord definisce programmaticamente le basi teoriche del situazionismo. ...
    Nel Rapporto di Debord si legge inoltre una durissima critica allo sfruttamento capitalistico delle masse anche nel tempo libero attraverso l'industria del divertimento che abbrutisce la gente con sottoprodotti dell'ideologia mistificata della borghesia.

  17. ^ a b The Fourth SI Conference in London,[1] Internationale Situationniste #5 (December 1960)
  18. ^ a b The Beginning of an Era, from Situationist International No 12 (September 1969). Translated by Ken Knabb.
  19. ^ a b c d e The Counter-Situationist Campaign in Various Countries, Internationale Situationniste #8, 1963.
  20. ^ Anselm Jappe, 1999, p.65 quote:

    For the first four years of the SI's existence, the pivot of the group was the collaboration between Debord and Asger Jorn, who complemented each other well precisely because they were so different.

  21. ^ Atkins 1977. Quote:

    Jorn’s role in the Situationist movement (as in COBRA) was that of a catalyst and team leader. Guy Debord on his own lacked the personal warmth and persuasiveness to draw people of different nationalities and talents into an active working partnership. As a prototype Marxist intellectual Debord needed an ally who could patch up the petty egoisms and squabbles of the members. Their quarrels came into the open the moment Jorn's leadership was withdrawn in 1961. . . . Finally, 1966–8 saw the vindication of Debord’s policy, sustained against every kind of opposition, of adhering rigidly to the uncompromising pursuit of a singleminded plan. When the time came – in Strasbourg in November 1966 and in Paris in May 1968 – Debord was ready, with his two or three remaining supporters, to take over the revolutionary role for which he had been preparing during the last ten years. Incredible as it may seem, the active ideologists (“enragés” and Situationists) behind the revolutionary events in Strasbourg, Nanterre and Paris, numbered only about ten persons.

  22. ^ THE ASSAULT ON CULTURE CHAPTER 6 (pages 31-40) THE SITUATIONIST INTERNATIONAL IN ITS 'HEROIC' PHASE (1957-62) http://www.stewarthomesociety.org/ass/sione.htm accessed 10/12/08
  23. ^ Anselm Jappe (1999) Guy Debord, p.177
  24. ^ THE ASSAULT ON CULTURE CHAPTER 8 - THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE SPECTO-SITUATIONIST CRITIQUE http://www.stewarthomesociety.org/ass/sithree.htm
  25. ^ Karen Kurczynski (2005) Beyond Expressionism. Asger Jorn and the European Avant-Garde, 1941-1961 (New York University: New York 2005) http://members.chello.nl/j.seegers1/situationist/bib_jorn.html#criticism
  26. ^ Guy Debord Is Really Dead by Luther Blissett
  27. ^ I Situazionisti e la loro storia, introduction
  28. ^ McDonough 2002, p. 4, quote:

    There has been a tendency recently to view Debord as the sole motivating figure behind the S.I., but while the latter's role was indisputably central, that of Jorn should not be underestimated. In his four years of activity with the group he not only continued to make paintings (some of his best expressionist works as well as the first series of "Modifications"), he also cooperated in the editing of the movement's review, joined in its congresses and scandals, authored two books of essays (In Favor of Form, 1958; and Critique of Political Economy, 1960), and produced an experimental film by Debord. Even after resigning from the S.I., as his activity as painter made his role therein less and less tenable, his friendship with (and his financial assistance to) Debord continued.

  29. ^ Bandini & 1998 Preface to the secondo edition quotes:

    On Debord: “In questi anni una figura e' intellettualmente cresciuta non soltanto all'interno del paesaggio dell'I.S.: quella di Guy Debord, le cui riflessioni hanno assunto una valenza problematica crescente. Egli e' l'unico e spesso taciuto, mentre se ne saccheggia il pensiero, vivificatore dello stanco clima degli ultimi, violenti e drammatici anni della Guerra fredda. L’attualità della sua riflessione, che alla prova dei fatti assume tutti i tratti di una vera predizione, deriva dalla capacità di Debord di superare l’opposizione manichea che allora ingabbiava il pensiero europeo tra un bene (l’Occidente liberal-borghese) e un male (il bolscevismo) e viceversa. Per Debord il processo è dentro la Storia.
    La teoria Situazionista non è mai stata smentita dai fatti: nel suo isolamento tattico Debord, con la sua prosa classica, fredda, visionaria, contrappuntata di citazioni da famosi strateghi della guerra, Karl von Clausewitz, Sun Tze, de Gondi cardinale di Retz, o da teorici etico-politici Tucidide o Baltasar Graciàn, ha saputo mantenere il senso di rivolta in questa fine secolo, denunciando il disastroso naufragio del nostro mondo e guidando un movimento che secondo le sue parole era il solo che, inglobando la sopravvivenza dell’arte nell’arte di vivere, poteva rispondere al progetto dell’artista autentico.”

  30. ^ Ken Knabb (1996) On Guy Debord’s Film The Society of the Spectacle "Bureau of Public Secrets" website May 1996. Later published in book Public Secrets - Collected Skirmishes of Ken Knabb (1997) ISBN 0-939682-03-6 quote:

    "Guy Debord (1931-1994) was the most influential figure in the Situationist International"

  31. ^ Giorgio Agamben (1990), "Glosse in margine ai Commentari sulla societa dello spettacolo" in Debord 1990, p. 233–250:

    On book Society of Spectacle: ”l’analisi più lucida e severa delle miserie e della servitù di una società - quella dello spettacolo, in cui noi viviamo - che ha esteso oggi il suo dominio su tutto il pianeta”

  32. ^ a b Richard Gombin (1971), chap.3, quote:

    The concept of revolution created by the Situationist International is that of total contestation of modern capitalism.

  33. ^ a b Guy Debord (1961) Perspectives for Conscious Changes in Everyday Life. This work was originally presented by tape recording 17 May 1961 at a conference of the Group for Research on Everyday Life convened in Paris by Henri Lefebvre. Its first print appearance was in Internationale Situationniste #6 (Paris, August 1961).
  34. ^ a b Editorial Notes, Internationale Situationniste #8, 1963.
  35. ^ a b c d e f g h i Clark and Nicholson-Smith (Winter 1997), quote:

    In particular the key issue, of how and why the situationists came to have a preponderant role in May 1968 - that is, how and why their brand of politics partecipated in, and to an extent fueled, a crisis of the late-capitalist State - is still wide open to interpretation.

    A description of the portion of the Left at clash with the Situationists is found in note #4:

    The word "Left" ... much of the time is used descriptively, and therefore pessimistically, to indicate a set of interlocking ideological directorships stretching roughly from the statist and workerist fringes of social democracy and laborism to the para-academic journals and think tanks of latter-day Trotskyism, taking in the Stalinist and lightly post-Stalinist center along the way.

  36. ^ a b Bandini & 1998 Preface to second edition

    Non a caso l'I.S. sorge ed e' coeva alla denuncia dello Stalinismo.

  37. ^ Das Kapital, entry sentence, p.125: "The wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an 'immense collection of commodities'"
  38. ^ "The whole life of those societies in which modern conditions of production prevail presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles." Debord G.E. (1967), thesis 1st.
  39. ^ Debord G.E. (1967) : thesis 17, 42
  40. ^ Giorgio Agamben, 1989
  41. ^ Debord G.E. (1967) : thesis 6, 34
  42. ^ Debord G.E. (1967) : thesis 24
  43. ^ Debord G.E. (1967) : thesis 25, 192
  44. ^ "The real unity the spectacle proclaims masks the class division on which the real unity of the capitalist mode of production is based." Debord G.E. (1967) : thesis 72.
  45. ^ "To have done with the judgment of God". Snarkout. 2002-11-24. http://www.snarkout.org/archives/2002/11/24/. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  46. ^ Adriano Scianca (2006-05-09). "COSTRUIRE L'UNITA' D'AREA/2". miro renzaglia. http://www.mirorenzaglia.com/index.php?itemid=8. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  47. ^ Lippolis, Mario (1999) pp.28-33
  48. ^ Letter from Guy Debord to J.V. Martin, 28 March 1962
  49. ^ The Second SI Conference Internationale Situationniste #1 (June 1958)
  50. ^ The Third SI Conference in Munich, Internationale Situationniste #3 (December 1959)
  51. ^ Lasn, Kalle (2000) Culture Jam. New York: Quill. Quote:

    In May 1968, the Situationist-inspired Paris riots set off "a chain reaction of refusal" against consumer capitalism.

  52. ^ a b c d Bandini & 1994 Preface to second edition

    L'I.S. diventa il detonatore, il reiferimento spesso taciuto per ragioni settarie, la fabbrica di metafore entrate nel linguaggio comune che ne ignora molto spesso l'esatto senso: e su tutte valga la metafora debordiana della nostra societa' come "societa' dello spettacolo".

  53. ^ Rivarol (magazine), 16 March 1984, quote:

    the Situationist International, the political and revolutionary movement that was at the origin of the events of May 1968

  54. ^ Présent, 10 March 1984, quote:

    ...the enrage Guy Debord, the leader of the situationists, the most nihilistic, the most destructive of the anarcho-surrealist movements, probably the principal promoter of subversion of 1968.

  55. ^ Babronski, Lamy, Brigouleix, France-Soir, 9 and 10 March 1984, quote:

    the situationists, a movement of libertarian tendency that was one of the detonators of the May '68 events.

  56. ^ Guy Debord (2003-08). "Words and Bullets - The Condemned of the Lebovici Affair". NOT BORED!. http://www.notbored.org/les-mots.html. Retrieved 2008-06-23. . On May '68, it quotes Babronski et al. (1984)
  57. ^ The monthly magazine 20 Ans, June 1968 issue, quote:

    The Situationist International is the vanguard of the student movement.

  58. ^ Rivarol (magazine), May 3rd 1968, quote:

    it has largely been forgotten that, as early as February, the riots at Nantes showed the real face of these 'situationists,' fifteen hundred students under red and black flags, the Hall of Justice occupied...

  59. ^ a b c d Anselm Jappe, 1999, p.81 quote:

     ... the group sustained an often underground agitation whose significance has now been widely acknowledged in studies of the period. The very least one can say is that no one anticipated the liberatory content of the events of 1968 as well as the Situationists, and this must be granted quite independently of the questions of the extent to which they may have "influenced" the protagonists of those events and the extent to which those protagonists may have been conscious of such an influence. Thirty years later, now that Althusserianism, Maoism, workerism, and Freudo-Marxism have all disappeared into historical oblivion, it is clear that the Situationists were the only people at that time to develop a theory, and to a lesser extent a practice, whose interest is not merely historiographical but retains a potential relevance today.

  60. ^ Richard Gombin (1971), quote:

    But the situationists do not pretend to make the only decent analysis of Marx; in reality, they are 'superseding' Marx, and they are not Marxists in the current sense of the word ... The radicality of this conception can be perceived; the break with the entire left wing movement of this half-century that they are effecting confers on it a millenarian, heretic status ... Since the mid-Sixties, if not before, the situationists have predicted and announced 'the second proletarian assault on class society' ... The style that they have elaborated, which has attained remarkable cohesion, summarizes certain processes of Hegel and the young Marx, such as the inversion of the genitive (weapons of criticism, criticism of weapons), and of Dadaism (rapid-fire delivery, words used in a meaning different from their classical meaning, etc). But it is above all a style that is penetrated with irony ... Just before the month of May 1968, the situationists believed that the decisive historical moment was approaching ... During the course of the 'events' of May-June 1968, the situationists found occasion to apply their ideas in depth as well as organizationally, initially in the first occupation committee of the Sorbonne, and finally in the Committee for the Maintenance of the Occupations (CMDO).

  61. ^ Marie Luise Syring (1998) (editor) Um 1968: konkrete Utopien in Kunst und Gesellschaft, quote:

    By far the greatest influence that the theory of art and aesthetics exercised upon the protest movement of students and left-wing intellectuals was in all likelihood that of the Situationists, something which pratically nobody recalls today.

  62. ^ Demonet, Michel et al. (1975) Des Tracts en mai 68. Paris: Champ Libre, 1978.
  63. ^ Pascal Dumontier (1990) Les Situationnistes et mai 68: Théorie et la practique de la révolution (1966-1972). Paris: Gérard Lebovici.
  64. ^ Christine Fauré (1998) Mai 68: Jour et Nuit
  65. ^ De Gaulle, Televised speech of June 7th, 1968. Quoted in René Viénet (1968) Enragés et situationnistes dans le mouvement des occupations (Paris: Gallimard)
  66. ^ a b René Viénet (1968) Enragés and Situationists in the Occupations Movement (Translated by Loren Goldner and Paul Sieveking, New York: Autonomedia, 1992), sec.1
  67. ^ Mustapha Khayati (November 1966)
  68. ^ snarkout: to have done with the judgment of god
  69. ^ miro renzaglia - COSTRUIRE L'UNITA' D'AREA/2
  70. ^ miro renzaglia - SITUAZIONISMO
  71. ^ Plant, Sadie (1992). The Most Radical Gesture. New York: Routledge. p. 94. ISBN 0415062225. 
  72. ^ a b c d Vague, Tom (1997). Anarchy in the Uk: the Angry Brigade. Stirling: AK Press. p. 13–14. ISBN 1873176988. 
  73. ^ Gianfranco Sanguinetti
  74. ^ a b Clark and Nicholson-Smith (Spring 1997), response to Peter Wollen. Quote:

    So far as Wollen is concerned, the anger was provoked by his essay on the history of the SI, and specifically his three-sentence treatment of the organization in its last decade. We think he should look again at these sentences (which conclude some thirty pages of discussion of the SI's place in modern art), and ask himself whether they are not lofty, contemptuous, and dismissive. That's how they read to us. They seem to epitomize—and, in view of their publication history, to enshrine—a certain effort to turn the SI safely into an art movement, and thereby to minimize its role in the political and social movements of the sixties. Like Wollen, presumably, we think that those up-heavals are of much more than historical interest, and every day they are traduced and trivialized by the culture industry. Much is at stake, therefore. We wanted to denounce a loose conspirancy of silence and misrepresentation which has been the response of a portion of the Left to the challenge that the SI poses to their model of political action.

  75. ^ a b Ken Knabb (2006) SI Anthology, Bibliography - Books about the SI - In English, p.498
  76. ^ Mario Lippolis (2000) Notizie su Asger Jorn, situazionista iperpolitico in Jorn 2000
  77. ^ Mario Lippolis (2000) Un dialogo tra vandali civilizzatori nello sfacelo dell’impero della merce in Jorn 2000
  78. ^ Debord Letter to the Library Circle, 27 June 1963
  79. ^ Internationale Situationniste #8, p.42
  80. ^ Chaz Bufe. "Listen Anarchist!". See Sharp Press. http://www.seesharppress.com/listen.html. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  81. ^ a b c The Exclusion of the Spurists, Internationale Situationniste #8, 1963.
  82. ^ Nothing to talk about, (essay/interview on Dieter Kunzelmann) Art-Ist 08, Istanbul, Turkey, Halil Altindere and Sezgin Boynik (editors)
  83. ^ The Fifth SI Conference in Göteborg,[2] Internationale Situationniste #7 (April 1962)
  84. ^ Letter from Guy Debord and Uwe Lausen to the journal Vernissage, 15 March 1962
  85. ^ Letter from Guy Debord to Rodolphe Gasche (member of the Spur group), 18 June 1962
  86. ^ Letter from Guy Debord To the Spur group, 28 April 1962
  87. ^ a b Lang, Daniel (May 2007). ""Give Us the Dumpsters -Or- Give Us Life": Res Derilictae and the Trash of Free Trade". Cultural Recycling (Other Voices) 3 (1). http://www.othervoices.org/3.1/dlang/index.php. 
  88. ^ "Le Retour de la Colonne Durutti". Cerysmatic Factory. http://www.cerysmaticfactory.info/durutti_le_retour_66.html. Retrieved 2007-10-23. 
  89. ^ Neil Nehring (December 2006). "The Situationist International in American Hardcore Punk, 1982-2002". Popular Music & Society. http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/911505403-40919005/content~content=a758328513~tab=send. Retrieved 2008-06-23. 
  90. ^ "Situationist International Anthology". http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/index.htm. 
  91. ^ Guy Debord Letter to Gianfranco Sanguinetti 10 October 1975

Bibliography of citations

Further reading

  • Several authors, (1997) October by MIT Press, special issue (#79, Winter 1997) devoted to the work of the Situationist International
    • McDonough, Thomas F. "Rereading Debord, Rereading the Situationists." pp. 3–14.
    • Clark, T.J. and Donald Nicholson-Smith. "Why Art Can't Kill the Situationist International." pp. 15–31.
    • Gilman, Claire. "Asger Jorn's Avant-Garde Archives." pp. 32–48.
    • Kaufmann, Vincent. "Angels of Purity." pp. 49–68.
    • Lefebvre, Henri. "Lefebvre on the Situationists: An Interview." With Kristin Ross October pp. 69–83.
    • Bernstein, Michele. "In praise of Pinot-Gallizio." Pinot-Gallizio. Milano: 1959. Trans. by John Shepley.
  • Black, Bob The Realization and Suppression of Situationism
  • Ford, Simon The Situationist International: A User's Guide (Black Dog, London, 2004) ISBN 1-904772-05-6
  • Home, Stewart The Assault on Culture: Utopian currents from Lettrisme to Class War (Aporia Press and Unpopular Books, London, 1988) ISBN 0-948518-88-X
  • Marcus, Greil Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the Twentieth Century (Harvard University Press, 1990) ISBN 0-674-53581-2
  • Tom McDonough (2004) (Editor) Guy Debord and the Situationist International: Texts and Documents. The MIT Press (April 1, 2004) 514 pages ISBN 0262633000 ISBN 978-0262633000
  • Plant, Sadie The Most Radical Gesture: The Situationist International in a Postmodern Age (Routledge, 1992) ISBN 0-415-06222-5
  • Sadler, Simon The Situationist City (MIT Press, Cambridge MA, 1998) ISBN 0-262-69225-2 [4]
  • Slater, Howard "Divided We Stand: An Outline of Scandinavian Situationism" [5]
  • Vachon, Marc L’arpenteur de la ville: L’utopie situationniste et Patrick Straram (Les Éditions Triptyque, Montreal, 2003) ISBN 2-89031-476-6 [6]
  • Wark, McKenzie 50 Years of Recuperation of the Situationist International (Princeton Architectural Press, New York, 2008) ISBN 1568987897
  • "The Situationist international (1957-1972) In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni" (JRP Ringier, Zurich, 2007) ISBN 3905770148
  • Extensive bibliography: [7]

External links

Online collections of the 12 issues of the Situationist International

Other links


Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

The Situationist International (SI) was a small group of international political and artistic agitators with roots in Marxism, Lettrism and the early 20th century European artistic and political avant-gardes. It was greatly influential in the origins of May 68.

Sourced

[1][2][3][4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12][13][14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21][22]

  1. Francesco Poli (1991) p.63. Quote:

    Nel 1972, quindici anni dopo la sua fondazione [...] l'Internazionale Situazionista si scioglie in quanto organizzazione. Durante questi anni, il movimento, caratterizzato da un'ideologia dell'estetico e del politico di matrice marxista e surrealista, produce una quantita' consistente di scritti teorici, opuscoli, libri, film e lavori artistici nel campo della pittura e della progettazione di interventi nella dimensione urbana. Di grande rilievo e' il ruolo degli artisti, tra cui in particolare Asger Jorn, Constant e Pinot Gallizio;

  2. Bandini (1977), quote:

    Per la prima volta dopo il surrealismo, arte e politica vengono affrontate insieme in termini rivoluzionari. [...] L'idea chiave e' quella della 'costruzione di situazioni' [...] L'urbanesimo unitario [...] Fondamentale e' la 'ricerca psicogeografica': studio delle leggi esatte e degli effetti precisi che l'ambiente geografico, coscientemente disposto o no, attua direttamente sul comportamento affettivo degli individui.

  3. Debord, G. (1957) Report on the Construction of Situations. Quote:

    We are going through a crucial historical crisis in which each year poses more acutely the global problem of rationally mastering the new productive forces and creating a new civilization. Yet the international working-class movement, on which depends the prerequisite overthrow of the economic infrastructure of exploitation, has registered only a few partial local successes. Capitalism has invented new forms of struggle (state intervention in the economy, expansion of the consumer sector, fascist governments) while camouflaging class oppositions through various reformist tactics and exploiting the degenerations of working-class leaderships. In this way it has succeeded in maintaining the old social relations in the great majority of the highly industrialized countries, thereby depriving a socialist society of its indispensable material base. In contrast, the underdeveloped or colonized countries, which over the last decade have engaged in the most direct and massive battles against imperialism, have begun to win some very significant victories. These victories are aggravating the contradictions of the capitalist economy and (particularly in the case of the Chinese revolution) could be a contributing factor toward a renewal of the whole revolutionary movement. Such a renewal cannot limit itself to reforms within the capitalist or anticapitalist countries, but must develop conflicts posing the question of power everywhere.

    The shattering of modern culture is the result, on the plane of ideological struggle, of the chaotic crisis of these antagonisms. The new desires that are taking shape are presented in distorted form: present-day resources could enable them to be fulfilled, but the anachronistic economic structure is incapable of developing these resources to such ends. Ruling-class ideology has meanwhile lost all coherence because of the depreciation of its successive conceptions of the world (a depreciation which leads the ruling class to historical indecision and uncertainty); because of the coexistence of a range of mutually contradictory reactionary ideologies (such as Christianity and social-democracy); and because of the mixing into contemporary Western culture of a number of only recently appreciated features of several foreign civilizations. The main goal of ruling-class ideology is therefore to maintain this confusion.
    [...]
    Our Immediate Tasks
    We must call attention, among the workers parties or the extremist tendencies within those parties, to the need to undertake an effective ideological action in order to combat the emotional influence of advanced capitalist methods of propaganda. On every occasion, by every hyper-political means, we must publicize desirable alternatives to the spectacle of the capitalist way of life, so as to destroy the bourgeois idea of happiness. At the same time, taking into account the existence, within the various ruling classes, of elements that have always tended (out of boredom and thirst for novelty) toward things that lead to the disappearance of their societies, we should incite the persons who control some of the vast resources that we lack to provide us with the means to carry out our experiments, out of the same motives of potential profit as they do with scientific research.

  4. Debord (1957) Report .... Quote:

    So far, the ruling class has succeeded in using the leisure the revolutionary proletariat wrested from it by developing a vast industrial sector of leisure activities that is an incomparable instrument for stupefying the proletariat with by-products of mystifying ideology and bourgeois tastes. The abundance of televised imbecilities is probably one of the reasons for the American working class’s inability to develop any political consciousness.

  5. Luttazzi (2008)

    Question: "Le profezie di Guy Debord a proposito della Società dello spettacolo si avverano sotto i nostri occhi: il governo si occupa della «percezione» delle cose da parte dei cittadini più che della sostanza materiale, dei bisogni, dei fatti. L’invenzione dell’«emergenza sicurezza» è un caso lampante. Come pensi ci si debba muovere in questo scenario?"
    Answer: "Come suggeriva Debord: con pratiche di vita alternative."

  6. Debord (1957) Report .... Quote:

    Toward a Situationist International
    Our central idea is the construction of situations, that is to say, the concrete construction of momentary ambiences of life and their transformation into a superior passional quality.

  7. Debord harshly denounced the degradation in the quality of life under capitalism, also in his 1957 Report. Francesco Poli (1991) said on Debord's Report:

    Con il suo Rapporto... del 1957, Debord definisce programmaticamente le basi teoriche del situazionismo. [...]
    Nel Rapporto di Debord si legge inoltre una durissima critica allo sfruttamento capitalistico delle masse anche nel tempo libero attraverso l'industria del divertimento che abbrutisce la gente con sottoprodotti dell'ideologia mistificata della borghesia.

  8. Anselm Jappe, 1999, p.65 quote:

    For the first four years of the SI's existence, the pivot of the group was the collaboration between Debord and Asger Jorn, who complemented each other well precisely because they were so different.

  9. Guy Atkins, 1977. Quote:

    Jorn’s role in the Situationist movement (as in COBRA) was that of a catalyst and team leader. Guy Debord on his own lacked the personal warmth and persuasiveness to draw people of different nationalities and talents into an active working partnership. As a prototype Marxist intellectual Debord needed an ally who could patch up the petty egoisms and squabbles of the members. Their quarrels came into the open the moment Jorn’s leadership was withdrawn in 1961. . . . Finally, 1966-8 saw the vindication of Debord’s policy, sustained against every kind of opposition, of adhering rigidly to the uncompromising pursuit of a singleminded plan. When the time came — in Strasbourg in November 1966 and in Paris in May 1968 — Debord was ready, with his two or three remaining supporters, to take over the revolutionary role for which he had been preparing during the last ten years. Incredible as it may seem, the active ideologists (“enragés” and Situationists) behind the revolutionary events in Strasbourg, Nanterre and Paris, numbered only about ten persons.

  10. Tom McDonough (2002) p.4, quote:

    There has been a tendency recently to view Debord as the sole motivating figure behind the S.I., but while the latter's role was indisputably central, that of Jorn should not be underestimated. In his four years of activity with the group he not only continued to make paintings (some of his best expressionist works as well as the first series of "Modifications"), he also cooperated in the editing of the movement's review, joined in its congresses and scandals, authored two books of essays (In Favor of Form, 1958; and Critique of Political Economy, 1960), and produced an experimental film by Debord. Even after resigning from the S.I., as his activity as painter made his role therein less and less tenable, his friendship with (and his financial assistance to) Debord continued.

  11. Bandini (1977) quotes:

    On S.I.: “non [ e' ] ancora storicizzabile la vicenda dell’I.S. per la radicale politicizzazione della sua proposta artistica” [...] On Debord: “L’attualità della sua riflessione, che alla prova dei fatti assume tutti i tratti di una vera predizione, deriva dalla capacità di Debord di superare l’opposizione manichea che allora ingabbiava il pensiero europeo tra un bene (l’Occidente liberal-borghese) e un male (il bolscevismo) e viceversa. Per Debord il processo è dentro la Storia. La teoria Situazionista non è mai stata smentita dai fatti: nel suo isolamento tattico Debord, con la sua prosa classica, fredda, visionaria, contrappuntata di citazioni da famosi strateghi della guerra, Karl von Clausewitz, Sun Tze, de Gondi cardinale di Retz, o da teorici etico-politici Tucidide o Baltasar Graciàn, ha saputo mantenere il senso di rivolta in questa fine secolo, denunciando il disastroso naufragio del nostro mondo e guidando un movimento che secondo le sue parole era il solo che, inglobando la sopravvivenza dell’arte nell’arte di vivere, poteva rispondere al progetto dell’artista autentico.”

  12. Ken Knabb (1996) On Guy Debord’s Film The Society of the Spectacle "Bureau of Public Secrets" website May 1996. Later published in book Public Secrets - Collected Skirmishes of Ken Knabb (1997) ISBN 0-939682-03-6 quote:

    "Guy Debord (1931-1994) was the most influential figure in the Situationist International"

  13. Giorgio Agamben (1990) quote:

    On book Society of Spectacle: ”l’analisi più lucida e severa delle miserie e della servitù di una società - quella dello spettacolo, in cui noi viviamo - che ha esteso oggi il suo dominio su tutto il pianeta”

  14. Das Kapital, entry sentence, p.125: "The wealth of societies in which the capitalist mode of production prevails appears as an 'immense collection of commodities'"
  15. "The whole life of those societies in which modern conditions of production prevail presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles." Debord G.E. (1967), thesis 1st.
  16. "The real unity the spectacle proclaims masks the class division on which the real unity of the capitalist mode of production is based." Debord G.E. (1967) : thesis 72.
  17. Anselm Jappe, 1999, p.81 quote:

    ... the group sustained an often underground agitation whose significance has now been widely acknowledged in studies of the period. The very least one can say is that no one anticipated the liberatory content of the events of 1968 as well as the Situationists, and this must be granted quite independently of the questions of the extent to which they may have "influenced" the protagonists of those events and the extent to which those protagonists may have been conscious of such an influence. Thirty years later, now that Althusserianism, Maoism, workerism, and Freudo-Marxism have all disappeared into historical oblivion, it is clear that the Situationists were the only people at that time to develop a theory, and to a lesser extent a practice, whose interest is not merely historiographical but retains a potential relevance today.

  18. Rivarol (magazine), 16 March 1984, quote:

    the Situationist International, the political and revolutionary movement that was at the origin of the events of May 68

  19. Présent, 10 March 1984, quote:

    ...the enrage Guy Debord, the leader of the situationists, the most nihilistic, the most destructive of the anarcho-surrealist movements, probably the principal promoter of subversion of 1968.

  20. Babronski, Lamy, Brigouleix, France-Soir, 9 and 10 March 1984, quote:

    the situationists, a movement of libertarian tendency that was one of the detonators of the May '68 events.

  21. The monthly magazine 20 Ans, June 1968 issue, quote:

    [The Situationist International is the] vanguard of the student movement.

  22. Rivarol (magazine), May 3, 1968, quote:

    it has largely been forgotten that, as early as February, the riots at Nantes showed the real face of these 'situationists,' fifteen hundred students under red and black flags, the Hall of Justice occupied...

External links

Wikipedia
Wikipedia has an article about:

Advertisements






Got something to say? Make a comment.
Your name
Your email address
Message