Situationist International

Essay by katib_1980 October 2010

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Situationist International

The Situationists came together in 1957 as a fusion of two main groups, the Letterist International and COBRA art group. Influenced by Marxism, the group had two main things on its agenda, i.e. modern art and radical politics. In the history of revolutionary groups, none have made the impact that the Situationists ended up making, even though they consisted of less than a hundred people. The group had theorists and artists from many different countries who worked against capitalist forces and ideals. Art in their view was being molested by capitalist practices and they tried to bring art out of the perpetual depression that seemed to engulf it at the time. The group tried to influence the society around them at large through 'cultural jamming.' Here they used posters, radio broadcasts, comic strips etc to get their message across to the people, to desensitize them from the effects of the everyday media bombardments.

The members were after a utopian world, one which fast eluded them at the time. Their main influence was meant for everyday life. They thought Art was to be a part of norm and not an exclusive activity. The Situationist critique of society identifies a modern-day trend that is devoted to the mediation of culture and experiences through a commodification of appearances in order to conceal the dominant interests in society, in his book Guy Debord concludes that, "In societies dominated by modern conditions of production, life is presented as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has receded into a representation."

Politics was indeed a large part of their agenda. The world after WWII was inclining more and more towards capitalism. Even staunch communists such as Stalin could not resist its charms. Art was once again one of the underlying...