Situationist International Anthology: Revised and Expanded Edition

Situationist International Anthology: Revised and Expanded Edition

by Ken Knabb

In 1957 a few experimental European groups stemming from the radical tradition of dadaism and surrealism, but seeking to avoid the cooption to which those movements succumbed, came together to form the Situationist International. The name came from their aim of liberating everyday life through the creation of open-ended, participatory "situations" (as opposed to fixed works of art) — an aim which naturally ran up against the whole range of material and mental obstacles produced by the present social order. Over the next decade the situationists developed an increasingly incisive critique of the global "spectacle-commodity system" and of its bureaucratic leftist pseudo-opposition, and their new methods of agitation helped trigger the May 1968 revolt in France. Since then — although the SI itself was dissolved in 1972 — situationist theories and tactics have continued to inspire radical currents in dozens of countries all over the world. The SI Anthology, generally recognized as the most comprehensive and accurately translated collection of situationist writings in English, presents a chronological survey of the group's activities and development as reflected in articles from its French journal and in a variety of leaflets, pamphlets, filmscripts and internal documents, ranging from their early experiments in urban "psychogeography" and cultural subversion to their lucid analyses of the Watts riot, the Vietnam war, the Prague Spring, the Chinese "Cultural Revolution" and other crises and upheavals of the sixties.