Moving Images


The Situationist International was the bastard child of Dada and Surrealism. Determined to resolve the contradiction that was at the heart of those movements, namely that though they were resolutely anti-art they ended up (through the process of recuperation) being a chapter in art history, they jettisoned art altogether to concentrate on ‘The Revolution of Everyday Life‘. Oh, and Liberation Marxist theory, a lot of Liberation Marxist theory.

But as its members all started as artists in various avant-garde micro movements (the movement was formed by the coalition of the Lettrist International, an offshoot of the Lettrist movement, the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus, an offshoot of COBRA and the London Psychogeographical Association, I kid you not), talents had to be put to use. Guy Debord, top theoretician and de facto leader of the Situationists developed the practise of detournement (examples of detourned art above and below) which consisted of ‘turning expressions of the capitalist system against itself’. Personally I find these comic strips with their earnest Marxist dialectic speech and thought bubbles very funny, though I am not sure that is their main intention.

The Situationist International and Enrages (whom they influenced) played an important part in the May 1968 uprising in Paris. The walls were daubed with Situationist and Surrealist slogans, Luis Bunuel in his autobiography My Last Sigh comments on his shock of seeing painted everywhere ‘All power to the imagination’ and ‘It is forbidden to forbid’.

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44 thoughts on “Moving Images

  1. The situationists provided a revolutionary language that middle-class art and design students could use on their career paths. Unless I’m missing something!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You must certainly are not. The Situationists were co-opted and recuperated by academia and the dreaded late stage capitalist quicker than the Surrealists were. By the way I have to thank you Jeff, your comment regarded the photographer Heinz Hajek-Halke resembling Helmut Newton was spot on and it led me to a bit of research and I got the connection with one degree of separation, which I am posting about now.


  2. I find all that dada and surrealist stuff which I’m told was an effect of, or reaction against, the First World War, quite fascinating although what influence it still has and where it’s all going seems something of a mystery.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That is the big question whether it was all just a small chapter in art history or whether its influence on advertising and movies mean that it is still a living presence and has something to say. Thanks for the comment.

      Liked by 1 person

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