The Situationists propose not a concrete utopia, but an abstraction. Do they really believe that one fine day, or one decisive evening, people will look at each other and say, "Enough! To hell with work, to hell with boredom! Let's put an end to it!" - and that everyone will then step into the eternal Festival and the creation of situations?
--Henri Lefebvre, Position contre les technocrates
1957: The Situationist International
, a utopian anti-art
movement, is formed as a fusion of Guy Debord
’s Lettrist International
and Asger Jorn
’s International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus
. Its founding paper opens as follows
First of all, we think the world must be changed.
Very nice. The Situationists were by no means the first or the last to feel this way. And Lefebvre's criticism
is accurate, in that the Situationist demands and expectations were patently ridiculous. But they were no more ridiculous than the bizzare, alienating construct
s of modernity
, whereby people pursue idealized images of themselves through the purchase of commodities
. The Situationist approach to the study of this system was that
...the nature of social reality and the means to its transformation were to be found not in the study of power, but in a long clear look at the seemingly trivial gestures and accents of ordinary experience.
--Greil Marcus, Lipstick Traces
The Situationists proposed a life made up of freely and deliberately constructed situations, graffitti
s piercing through the self-referring discourse of the existing order.
- Dérive- The practice of aimless wandering through a city, observing the psychogeography that it imposes
- Detournement, I.e. "There is no Situationist art, only Situationist uses of art"- The subversion of existing artistic elements to express ideologies contrary to their own intentions
(Very incomplete) works:
There were only about 70 Situationists, and never more than 20 at once. The group disbanded in 1972.