For those in the Bay Area, I will be giving a talk about the SI — details below. I would love to see you there if you are able to make it!

“Spectacular Commodities: A History of the Situationist International through its Cultural Productions”

Tuesday, March 28, 8-10pm

Red Victorian (Great Room), 1665 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Founded in 1957, the Internationale Situationniste was one of the foremost Post-war European avant-gardes. Its leader, Guy Debord, posited that “in modern societies… everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation.” The opening sentence of Debord’s Society of the Spectacle (1967) encapsulates the Situationsists’ unique take on traditional Marxo-Hegelianism. To Debord, the cause of workers’ alienation is not lack of agency (as Marx believed); rather, in modern societies, it happens because social interactions are mediated by (distorted) images.

Situationists rejected the accumulation of material goods, denouncing cultural productions – books, paintings, etc. – as expressions of a reactionary bourgeois ethos. The concept of copyright was viewed as anti-revolutionary: the S.I.’s eponymous journal opens with a statement that “all texts published in Internationale Situationniste may be reproduced, translated, or adapted without indication of origin.” Many took the “Situs” at their word – their writings were hastily photocopied and distributed around the world, often without any acknowledgement. Yet, the movement’s legacy can be traced and understood through the artifacts it left behind. From Guy Debord and Asger Jorn’s famed artist books Memoires (bound in a single sheet of abrasive sandpaper) and Fin de Copenhague (which was conceived using stolen newspapers) to Ralph Rumney’s psychogeographic photonovella The Leaning Tower of Venice, the Situationists created some of the boldest, most forward-looking material of their time.

This talk will provide an introduction to the Internationale Situationniste by looking at its most important cultural productions. It will also address some of the complications inherent with physical items that actively reject their own materiality. Some original documents will be made available (expects lots of visuals!). No prior knowledge of the Situationits or related movements is expected or necessary.


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