Qu’est-ce que le “situationnisme” [1966]

[BODSON, Guy] ANTOINE, Guy (pseud)“Qu’est-ce que le “situationnisme” in Le Monde Libertaire: Organe de la Federation Anarchiste. Paris, December 1966. 16 p.; ill.; two-sided printed on newspaper stock

This article, authored by Guy Bodson and published in Le Monde Libertaire, is the opening salvo of an internecine war within the Federation Anarchiste. Written under the pseudonym of Guy Antoine, the article offers a panegyric of the Situationist movement just a few months after the publication of De la Misere en Milieu Etudiant and the “Strasbourg scandal” in the Fall of 1966. The Situationist brochure had openly criticitzed the Federation Anarchiste: ““These people actually tolerate everything because they tolerate each other. ” Bodson, who was then a member of the editorial committee of Le Monde Libertaire, was quickly rebuffed by his colleagues. In the January 1967 issue of Federation Anarchiste, C-A Bontemps responds to Bodson in the most direct terms (translation is mine)

Guys your age are, in fact, unable to read the anarchist newspapers and pamphlets of the various tendencies that flourished during the 1900s. Because of this, they do not realize that they are discovering America. The texts of the brochure in question, I read them verbatim (style, intentions, insults) dozens of times before 1914. The Provos replace, less well, the activists of direct action. The Beatniks have replaced the individualists who wanted to be anti-social and, like many of these, they fall into line at age 25. "Situationist theory is therefore not as novel as it is said."

Early in 1967, the editorial committee of Le Monde Libertaire is dissolved by Maurice Laissant. This leads to allegations of authoritarianism on the one hand, and the fear of a Situationist plot against the Federation Anarchiste on the other. Ultimately, this will lead to a split in the Federation Anarchiste. This story is discussed at length in La FA et les Situationnistes

Perhaps more importantly, Qu’est ce que le “situationnisme” is viewed by Debord as “the best article ever written on the subject” (Letter to Guy Bodson dated 11 Decembre 1966, see Correspondance vol. 3, p.180), and is thus worth a read.

Note pour la reunion du 12 Mai 1970 [1970]

[VIENET, Rene] RENE-DONATIEN. Note pour la réunion du 12 mai 1970. n.p. [Paris], May 1970. 2 pp. (single sided); 21 x 27 cm. Black ink on thick white stock; two small edits in blue ink.

Important internal document that documents changes to be made to Internationale Situationniste ahead of issue #13 (which would never be released). Specifically, the issue was to open with a warning (Avertissement) penned by Debord. Includes a draft of the table of contents.

Original preparatory material to this last issue – including a draft of both the Avertissement and an (earlier / different) table of contents – can be found as part of the Gianfranco Sanguinetti archive (box 50), held at the Beinecke Library of Yale University.

A l’occasion de son soixantième anniversaire, hommage à André Breton…C’était un mensonge [1956]

[LEVRES NUES and INTERNATIONALE LETTRISTE]. [A l’occasion de son soixantième anniversaire, hommage à André Breton…C’était un mensonge]. n.p. [Bruxelles, Belgium], n.d. [February 1956]. 1 p.; 14.5 x 11 cm.; black and red ink on cream stock.

Invitation card to a (fake) reception, to be held on the occasion of Andre Breton’s sixtieth birthday. The event was to take place on February 18, 1956 at the Lutetia, a luxury hotel located at intersection of Boulevard Raspail and rue de Sèvres in Paris. Guests who showed up at the agreed-upon date and place (just a handful according to French daily Combat, hundreds according to the weekly l’Express) soon realized they had been duped. Instead of a high-brow celebration of a Surrealist figure they stepped into a get-together of charcoal-wood merchants in Paris…

Marcel Marien and his comrades from les Levres Nues conceived the spoof. Invitation cards were mailed from Paris by members of the Internationale Lettriste. A few days later, a second invitation card was mailed from Belgium to the same recipients. It was identical to the first one, but admitted the wrongdoing (“c’était un mensonge” – “it was a lie”) and revealed its authors (“Les Levres Nues”). This is the one featured here

The spoof is celebrated in Potlatch #26 a few months later: “No one, however, had picked up on this deliberately ridiculous, which announced that Breton would seize this opportunity to discuss “the eternal youth of surrealism”

Referenced in Berreby p.332, BNF p.47, and Wolman (Defense de mourir) p.97. Not in Oeuvres or in Scheppe & Ohrt.

Livre de Troels Jorn [2020]

JORN. ASGER. [Troels Jorn] Livre de Troels Jorn. n.p.: Les Amis d’Asger Jorn / Edition privee hors commerce, 2020. n.p. [32 p.]; ill.; 32 x 18 cm.; ill. covers with text in black. 4-page presentation brochure (14 x 21 cm.) and bookmark (18 x 4.5 cm.) laid-in

First French language translation of a book composed by Jorn for his youngest son, Troels, in 1949. Troels was only four years old at the time, and Jorn was separating from Kirsten Lyngborg – his wife, former student, and mother of his three children. The artist considered the book too personal, and chose not to publish it in his lifetime. In 1981 – Eight years after Jorn’s passing – a first facsimile edition was released by the Silkeborg Kunstmuseum (now known as the Jorn Museum). The original Danish edition was reprinted a few times, and the book has been translated into both German (in 2016) and English (in 2017).

The book tells the story of encounters between two animals. First, a lion tries (and fails) to eat a giraffe, then a pig, then an elephant. The starving lion ultimately gets help from the Aganaks – small, fantastical creatures imagined by Jorn.

Ordre de Boycott [1956]

INTERNATIONALE LETTRISTE. Ordre de Boycott. Paris: Internationale Lettriste, 31 Juillet 1956. 1 p. (single-sided leaflet); ill.; 15 x 29 cm.; black ink on white stock

Rare leaflet by the Internationale Lettriste (signed by Debord, Asger Jorn, and Gil J. Wolman) issued on the occasion of the opening of Le Festival de la Cite Radieuse in Marseille on August 4, 1956. The avant-garde festival, to be held within Le Corbusier’s namesake building is the subject of a scathing attack from the Lettristes

La Cite Radieuse (Radiant City), a high-density residential development in Marseille built between 1947 and 1952, is seen as one one Le Corbusier’s most influential architectural works. It is thought by many to have been the main inspiration behind the Brutalist movement. The Lettristes, who harshly criticized Le Corbusier and functionalist architecture in general, took offense with this realization. Of note: Maurice Lemaitre, who had been excluded from the Internationale Lettriste, participated in the festival.

“Le 4 août dernier devait s’ouvrir à Marseille un Festival de l’Art d’Avant-Garde, monté avec l’appui de divers organismes officiels du tourisme, ainsi que du ministère de la Reconstruction et de l’Urbanisme. Par le décor choisi – l’immeuble du Corbusier appelé « Cité Radieuse » – et par l’éventail des personnalités pressenties, cette manifestation se présentait comme l’apothéose des tendances confusionnistes et rétrogrades qui ont constamment dominé l’expression moderne depuis dix ans. La consécration publique d’un tel rassemblement intervenait, comme il est d’usage, précisément au moment où la faillite de ces tendances en vient à apparaître à des secteurs toujours plus larges de l’opinion intellectuelle ; au moment où un tournant irréversible s’amorce vers une libération bouleversante dans tous les domaines. Quatre jours avant le début du Festival de l’Art d’Avant-Garde, l’Internationale lettriste lançait un ordre de boycott, expliquant que la position prise à l’égard de la réunion de Marseille contribuerait grandement dans l’avenir à marquer le partage de deux camps, entre lesquels tout dialogue sera inutile”. (Potlatch no. 27)

The text of the leafet is reproduced in full in Les Levres Nues no.9 (November 9, 1956) as part of “Histoire Marseillaise”. The article “Echec des manifestations de Marseille” in Potlatch no. 27 (November 2, 1956), provides details on the “happening” (see above) while sharing large excerpts from the leaflet For more details also see letters between Guy Debord and Marcel Marien in Correspondance Vol.0, pp.113-117

BnF p. 85. Gonzalvez p. 103. Oeuvres p. 239. Scheppe & Ohrt 143

Kill John Bull with art! : what went wrong? by Ralph Rumney [1969]

RUMNEY, Ralph. Kill John Bull with art! : what went wrong?In Studio International Vol. 178, no. 917 (pp. 216-221). London: Cory, Adams, and Mackay, 1969. ca. 80 p. (i-xvi + 64 p. [numbered 201-264]); ill.; 25 x 31 cm.; ill. wrappers.

Rare piece by Ralph Rumney, published in the British arts magazine Studio International: Journal of Modern Art. Technically, the article is a review of the show Abstract Art in England 1913-1915, the first broad survey of the Vorticist movement. It was held at the d’Offay Couper Gallery in London from November 11 to December 5, 1969. But, as often with Rumney, it is so much more than that.

The British artist and former member of the Situationist International praises the exhibition, “likely to be the only occasion we shall have to see a considerable selection of important work from this period [1913-1915]” (pp. 216). He goes on to express his admiration for Vorticism, an avant-garde movement founded by (Percy) Windham Lewis and whose other members included the likes of Laurence Atkinson, William Roberts, David Bomberg, Edward Wadsworth, and others. Vorticists rejected landscapes and nudes in favor of bold, abstract geometric shapes. Its members – “all except one who were under thirty” (ibid) – were contemporaries of Mondrian, Malevitch, Arp, and others — but these artists were not yet known in England. In their only contemporary show in the UK at the Dore Gallery, Vorticists positioned their movement against Naturalism, Cubism, and Futurism all at once: “By Vorticism we mean (a) Activity as opposed to the tasteful passivity of Picasso. (b) Signifiance as opposed to the dull and anecdotal character to which the Naturalist is condemned. (c) Essential Movement and Activity (such as the energy of a mind) as opposed to the imitative cinematography , the fuss and the hysterics of the Futurists” (ibid). Vorticism is perhaps best remembered through the short-lived magazine Blast.

It’s easy to see what Rumney admires in the Vorticists: just like him (and the Situationists), they were young, bold, and not afraid to launch a frontal assault against artistic currents that gained notoriety in the public sphere.

In the second part of the article, however, Rumney goes to lament the aftermath of the movement. Specifically, he wonders how World War 1 effectively put an end to the great Vorticist experiment: “What happened during the war to change radically the attitudes of a group of rebel artists into near conformity? What was it only in Engand that the mainstream of art was interrupted and diverted” (pp. 221). He then hypothesizes that the eradication of cafes and meeting places leads to an atomization of the artistic sphere: “The art scene is broken into smaller groups who have only occasional and suspicious contacts with each other…in this sense of the the disappearance of an efficient working environment the war was indeed ‘bad for art’, and that the change from rebellion to a sort of conformity which eventually led us to the insipidity of Unit One was the product, akin to brainwashing, of an unfamiliar world on men suffering from acute mental strain” (ibid). Rumney then goes on to cite an article entitled Combat Neurosis Development of Combat Exhaustion, published in a journal of neurology and psychiatry, as evidence. He concludes: “we are left with the tantalising prospect of what might have been if these artists had recovered from their wartime experiences and gone on producing abstract art through the ‘twenties and thirties to compare the dim reality of art in England from 1915 to 1955” (ibid)

It’s hard not to see parallels between the Vorticists and the intense burst of artistic activity that characterized Rumney’s own years in the Situationist International.

New Babylon (Portfolio with 10 lithographs by Constant) [1963]

CONSTANT (Nieuwenhuys). New Babylon. Amsterdam: Galerie d’Eendt, 1963. 10 lithographs on Hahnemühle-Bütten paper, loosely inserted in black original cloth boards with blindtooled title. Portfolio housed in a blue cloth portfolio container (41 cm. x 39 cm.). Text by Simon Vinkenoog. Signed at the colophon by both Constant and Vinkenoog. Edition of 60; this one is e1.

Spectacular artist portfolio by Constant, realized at the height of his New Babylon period. Accompanied by the text “Preeambuul bij een nieuwe wereld” (Preamble to a new world) by Simon Vinkenoog. Some of the lithographs are full-sheet (40 x 76 cm.) while others are half-sheets (40 x 38 cm). The portfolio was produced in an edition of 60, with 10 copies numbered I-X (issued with an original drawing) and 50 copies numbered 1-50.

Cent dérives · A Hundred Drifts · Hundert Driften [2020]

KOTANYI, Christophe. Cent dérives · A Hundred Drifts · Hundert Driften”. Axel Roch, Magda van Suntum (Eds.) 544pages, ill. Berlin: Gegenstalt, 2020

Cent dérives · A Hundred Drifts · Hundert Driften is a tri-lingual book in French, English and German by Christophe Kotanyi, the son of Attila Kotányi, who was a member of the S.I. between 1959 and 1963. The book drifts in the philosophies of subjectivity, as they were debated and talked over between 1945 and 1956 in Hungary, just before Attila Kotányi fled Hungary, and traces the tremendous influence on the SI through Attila Kotányi by the so-called Budapest Dialogical School, which consisted of Lajos Szabó, Béla Hamvas, and Béla Tabor. The author Christophe Kotanyi states for instance that “Attila Kotányi most certainly discussed [Lajos] Szabó’s theory of subjectivity with the Situationists in Paris, at a time when they were working on a political theory in terms of subjectivity as the active force, seeking to think beyond the romantic concept of subjectivity inherited from Marxism,” (see p. 332)

Indeed, Guy Debord puts in his Society of the Spectacle dialogue as true from of communication against falseness and deceitfulness of the spectacle. Debord claims in §18 the spectacle “is the opposite of dialogue.” And Debord ends his 1967-manifesto claiming that the “‘historical mission of installing truth in the world’ cannot be accomplished either by the isolated individual, or by the atomized crowd subjected to manipulation,” but “only where dialogue arms itself to make its own conditions victorious” (§221). This is the “dialogical principle” as just one example of what the situationist took apparently from the Budapest Dialogical School. Dialogical philosophies not only preceded situationism, but were also, as it seems, introduced to the situationists in person by Attila Kotányi. Kotányi’s influences on Debord are, probably similar to those of Ivan Chtcheglov, of tremendous historical interest.

In a similar way as Attila Kotányi introduced dialogical thinking and the political philosophy of subjectivity to the Situationists between 1959-1963, the author of Cent dérives introduces to the reader key topics of the philosophy of Lajos Szabó, Béla Hamvas, and Béla Tabor, a philosophy forgotten in the West, but central not only to Europe, but to situationism as well. The author of Cent dérives states for instance clearly that “Attila Kotányi transmitted this principle and method [the dialogical principle and the political theory of subjectivity of the Budapest Dialogical School] to the Situationists in Paris in the early sixties,” see also pp.75, 117, 124, 172, 332, etc. The book Cent dérives, thus, ends with an incredible theatre play about the situationists. Actors like “Guy Bordstein”, obviously a mix between “Guy Debord” and “Michèle Bernstein”, enter the stage as pirates that seem to steal and smuggle concepts and ideas in a play called “Le perroquet gris”…

The book equally drifts on a ship in various philosophical currents, and offers the reader ideas and concepts, not only in three languages, but also on 544 pages. The book has been published in Berlin by gegenstalt as hardcover with five different covers.

Copies can be obtained at the publisher or on Amazon. Excerpts here: http://gegenstalt.com/pdf/100D_reading.pdf

Proclamation from l’Internationale Situationniste [1962]

DEBORD, [Guy]; KOTANYI, A[ttila]; LAUSEN, U[we]; VANEIGEM, R[aoul]. Proclamation from l’Internationale Situationniste. n.p. [Goteborg, Sweden]: Internationale Situationniste, 23 March 1962. 1 p.; 21 x 15 cm.; black ink on thin red stock.

English language leaflet written by Debord in response to the future “Nashists'”(Jacqueline de Jong, Jörgen Nash and Ansgar Elde) own denunciation of their expulsion from the SI (see Nicht Hinauslehnen = Ne pas se pencher au dèhors = E pericoloso sporgesi! = Danger! Do not lean out! = Det är livsfarligt att luta sig ut! = Niet naar buiten hangen!). The formatting and typography of the two leaflets are indeed very similar.

Nash and Elde are blamed for their “support [of] a number of collectors with the aid of the recently repelled fraction which was excluded from the German section at the Paris conference of the Conseil Central on the 10th of February”. JV Martin becomes the “supreme authority to represent l’Internationale Situationniste in the area covered by the former Scandinavian section…”

Full text available here: http://scansitu.antipool.org/6206.html

BnF (Jeu de la Guerre) 219. Gonzalvez 117. Scheppe & Ohrt 201

We locate copies at Yale’s Beinecke Library (Jacqueline de Jong papers) and at the BNF (Guy Debord archive)

Nicht Hinauslehnen = Ne pas se pencher au dèhors = E pericoloso sporgesi! = Danger! Do not lean out! = Det är livsfarligt att luta sig ut! = Niet naar buiten hangen! [1962]

DE JONG, Jacqueline; NASH, Jorgen; ELDE, Ansgar. Nicht Hinauslehnen = Ne pas se pencher au dèhors = E pericoloso sporgesi! = Danger! Do not lean out! = Det är livsfarligt att luta sig ut! = Niet naar buiten hangen!. Paris: n.p., 13 February 1962. 11 p.; 23.5 x 17.5 cm.; black ink on green stock.

English language leaflet written by the future “Nashists” (Jacqueline de Jong, Jorgen Nash and Ansgar Elde) to denounce the expulsion of SPUR members from the SI. While Jorn did not sign the leaflet, he is believed to have financed its publication. Nash would go on to form the 2nd Situationist International after his own expulsion less than two months later.

“Paris, a witches’ cauldron of political instigations and demonstrations, armoured cars in the streets, the bloody shadow of the Algerian war, OAS, FLN, clearing murders and torture. Strikes, Police raids, censorship, no gallic clarity but a dark witches’ trial, shootings and reprisals, many dead and wounded. Paris, where our Conseil Central hold a meeting in the Internationale Situationniste the 10th and 11th February 1962, 129 Boulevard Saint-German – even here brother against brother!”

Scheppe & Ohrt 200.

We locate copies at Yale’s Beinecke Library (Jacqueline de Jong papers), at the Stedelijk Museum (Amsterdam), at the MACBA (Barcelona)