The Situationist International (1957–1972)
An Bauhaus imaginiste
Heinz Stahlhut, May 14, 2007
The Destruction of RSG_6, Charles de Gaulle, 1963_Ingo Herrmann_Karisruhe_Allemagne
The Destruction of RSG_6, Charles de Gaulle, 1963_Ingo Herrmann_Karisruhe_Allemagne

The SI saw misappropriation as one of the most effective methods to sabotage the “spectacle” and create a new situation. Originally applied primarily in the aesthetic realm, it was extended to the production of theory and political action and became the signature of the whole movement. Misappropriation was intended, first, to place the rubble and fragments of the “spectacle” into a new subjective semantic context and thus make it creative within one’s own reality. Second, the continued practice of misappropriation would lead to an inflation of values that would evade any power of what had become history.


Drifting, which had already been practiced by the Lettrists, was a way of moving that escaped the functionalized compulsive structures of the city by operating without any goal or plan. The method of drifting was a way of exploring the city as a space of experience and questioning its possibilities for constructing situations. Drifting was itself an action that subversively evaded the planned functions of the city and served to create material that could be employed by the Situationists for their critique of existing urbanism. The knowledge gained by drifting manifested itself as psycho-geographic maps of the “true” city, which was made for the people who lived in it. Drifting was the misappropriation of the city.

The Destruction of RSG_6, Odense, 1963_Paris_France
The Destruction of RSG_6, Odense, 1963_Paris_France

Consequently, SI, like High Modernism before it, placed its hope in the realization of its utopia in architecture. But where the Modern Movement intended its functionalist machines for living to ensure the frictionless intermeshing of the modern individual and modern society, it quickly lost sight of its concepts of quality in the wake of its building boom, and the functional subdivision of human living space into separate, distinct segments, like sleeping silos, shopping centers, recreation parks, and leisure sectors, into residential, service, and industrial districts, schematized the flow of life.

Consequently, coming to terms with modern architecture and the new urbanism was the core of the Situationist analysis of society for artists like Gilles Ivain, Asger Jorn, and Constant. It opened up a third dimension of the critique, as it were, which permitted immediate access to concrete reality, since in architecture questions of aesthetic design intersect directly with the reality of life.

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