Cultural-historical monument to the contradictions of the situationists

These are Situationist Times! An inventory of reproductions, deformations, modifications, derivations, and transformations
Forfatter: Ellef Prestsæter
Forlag: Torpedo Press (Norge)
THE SITUATIONISTS / What is the relevance of situationism in and for the digital age, where punk's nihilistic cut-and-paste aesthetic seems to be replaced by trolling and the Internet's meme culture?


Much has happened since American rock journalist Greil Marcus in his cult book Lipstick Traces: A Secret History of the 20th Century from 1989, a then relatively unknown avant-garde grouping called Situationist International described the punk culture's "secret" anarchist forerunners. Today, the group that existed from 1957 to 1973 is widely known as one of the last major avant-garde ventures of the twentieth century, and every magazine in its history has gradually been turned and described. Countless museum exhibitions, books, anthologies and periodicals have since been dedicated to this enigmatic group, which, in the aftermath of the interwar avant-garde groupings such as Dada and Surrealism, developed an original socially critical art practice. As the latest major exhibition at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt in Berlin last year made clear, the situationalists not only revolutionized the aesthetic idiom of the sixties, but also played a key role in the prelude to the long course of scattered protests, uprisings and strikes with their criticism of everyday monotony. which (somewhat summary) has passed into history as "May 68".

Jacqueline de Jong.

Now the new book is added These are Situationist Times! – which follows up another exhibition concept that hits the Danish Museum Jorn in September – another chapter to the history of the situationists. But where the focus so far has been primarily on Guy Debord as the Situationists' chief strategist in Paris – who coordinated the unruly troops in a complicated sectarian power game that ended in public wrangling, exclusions and internal riots – then this book takes a welcome turn. Thus, the book follows up and gives new substance to recent international interest in alternative narratives of situationalism – branching far and wide from Paris and having its «other center» in Scandinavia. In contrast to the strictly stylized political aesthetics that characterized the French section of Debord, the book presents us with a relatively overlooked, but staggering, artistic-experimental situationist drift in the form of The Situationist Times, which was a magazine project run by one of the few female situationists, Dutch Jacqueline de Jong. The Situationist Times appeared in six copies between 1962 and 1967, with occasional assistance from de Jong's more famous then partner, the Danish artist Asger Jorn.

"A thought experiment"

Debord had originally envisioned an English-language extension of the French main body, the stylishly composed international situation list, but already in the first issue of The Situationist Times, de Jong very explicitly defied Debord's directions and trumped his own drift by sticking Debord's head on a human fetus. De Jong's collage is open to interpretations: Is it a feminist "father murder" or (minimal) recognition of Debord's significance for the "rebirth" situationist project? For de Jong, this kind of contradiction was the very task of the project: "misunderstandings and contradictions are not only extremely valuable, but in fact also the basis of all artistic creation," which she is quoted for somewhere in the book. As the book's editor, Ellef Prestsæter, aptly puts it in his introduction to the book, it is «a fun thought experiment to imagine the ideal reader of The Situationist Times» for «not only should he be able to read both German, French , Italian and English, plus the occasional Scandinavian language tracts, but could also translate note notation into music, execute algorithms, solve equations, and put political programs into circulation. Number 6 even requires an 'illiterate' reader. Not even de Jong even met this goal, and that was obviously part of the point ”.

Jacqueline De Jong

Institute for Computational Vandalism

Bow These are Situationist Times! is also, as the title suggests, in an errand not only to re-produce, but to re-actualize de Jong's journal The Situationist Times. Therefore, the ambition goes beyond simply reprinting the journals, which are otherwise available for free use at the exhibition sites. Instead, the book's content is a host of perspectives and continuing essays by researchers, artists and cultural theorists supplemented by a virtual "fourth dimension", the book's important online interface (see link) compiled by the Institute for Computational Vandalism. Thus, while de Jong's journal has previously been published in facsimile edition and can be purchased as a traditional box set, here as a reader you get the opportunity for a more comprehensive look behind the scenes and access to an interactive archive where you can browse through the journals alongside one ' reads "over the shoulder of de Jong, browsing through the material in matched video sequences as she empathizes and gesticulates.

The Situationist Times was a magazine project run by one of the few female situationists. Dutch Jacqueline de Jong.Situationismen
had its «other center» in Scandinavia.

With its peculiar mix of artistic acidity and science-theoretical basic thinking, which clearly anticipates trends in post-68 "hippie modernism" of counter-culture, "The Jong Times" (which Debord sarcastically called the journal) stands as a cultural-historical monument to the riches of the situationalist's own internal opposites. With its extremely ambitious and totally successful hybrid feature, the book addresses the important question of the relevance of situationism in and for the digital age, where punk's nihilistic cut-and-paste aesthetic seems to be replaced by trolling and the Internet's meme culture. These are Situationist times, indeed!

The question is, of course, what happens to the archival material's own analog and partially resistant image economy when it is put into digitally potent circulation in a museum's cultural heritage context? In this gesture, can one look at the necessary critical perspective for the archive, as visual artist Jakob Jakobsen, in one of the book's most committed contributions, calls a "visual communism"?

thesituationisttimes /

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