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29 AUGUST 2017

On the Passage of a few People through a Rather Brief Moment in Time: The Situationist International 1956-1972

"The Situationist International (SI) was an international organization of social revolutionaries, the exclusive membership of which was made up of avant-garde artists, intellectuals, and political theorists, active from its formation in 1957 to its dissolution in 1972.

The intellectual foundations of the Situationist International were derived primarily from anti-authoritarian Marxism and the avant-garde art movements of the early 20th century, particularly Dada and Surrealism. Overall, situationist theory represented an attempt to synthesize this diverse field of theoretical disciplines into a modern and comprehensive critique of mid-20th century advanced capitalism. The situationists recognized that capitalism had changed since Marx's formative writings, but maintained that his analysis of the capitalist mode of production remained fundamentally correct; they rearticulated and expanded upon several classical Marxist concepts, such as his theory of alienation. In their expanded interpretation of Marxist theory, the situationists asserted that the misery of social alienation and commodity fetishism were no longer limited to the fundamental components of capitalist society, but had now in advanced capitalism spread themselves to every aspect of life and culture. They resolutely rejected the idea that advanced capitalism's apparent successes—such as technological advancement, increased income, and increased leisure—could ever outweigh the social dysfunction and degradation of everyday life that it simultaneously inflicted.

Essential to situationist theory was the concept of the spectacle, a unified critique of advanced capitalism of which a primary concern was the progressively increasing tendency towards the expression and mediation of social relations through objects. The situationists believed that the shift from individual expression through directly lived experiences, or the first-hand fulfillment of authentic desires, to individual expression by proxy through the exchange or consumption of commodities, or passive second-hand alienation, inflicted significant and far-reaching damage to the quality of human life for both individuals and society. Another important concept of situationist theory was the primary means of counteracting the spectacle; the construction of situations, moments of life deliberately constructed for the purpose of reawakening and pursuing authentic desires, experiencing the feeling of life and adventure, and the liberation of everyday life.

When the Situationist International was first formed, it had a predominantly artistic focus; emphasis was placed on concepts like unitary urbanism and psychogeography. Gradually, however, that focus shifted more towards revolutionary and political theory. The Situationist International reached the apex of its creative output and influence in 1967 and 1968, with the former marking the publication of the two most significant texts of the situationist movement, The Society of the Spectacle by Guy Debord and The Revolution of Everyday Life by Raoul Vaneigem. The expressed writing and political theory of the two aforementioned texts, along with other situationist publications, proved greatly influential in shaping the ideas behind the May 1968 insurrections in France; quotes, phrases, and slogans from situationist texts and publications were ubiquitous on posters and graffiti throughout France during the uprisings."

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195719721989 • advanced capitalism • anti-authoritarianart movement • authentic desires • avant-garde art • Branka Bogdanov • capitalist societycommodity fetishism • commodity spectacle • consumer societyconsumerism • consumption of commodities • Dadadegradationdetournement • directly lived experiences • documentary filmearly 20th centuryeveryday life • exchange of commodities • expression and mediation of social relations through objects • feeling of adventure • feeling of life • first-hand fulfillment of authentic desires • graffiti • Greil Marcus • Guy Debord • individual expression by proxy • Jamie Reid • liberation of everyday life • Malcolm Mac Laren • Marxism • Marxist concepts • Marxist theory • May 1968 • means of production • mid-20th century advanced capitalism • mode of production • moments of life • political theorists • political theorypsychogeography • Raoul Vaneigem • reawakening • revolutionary theory • second-hand alienation • Situationist International • situationist movement • situationist theory • situations • slogan • social alienation • social dysfunction • social relations • social revolutionaries • Society of the Spectacle (Guy Debord)spectaclesurrealism • The Revolution of Everyday Life (1967) • theory of alienation • Thomas Levine • UbuWeb • unified critique • unitary urbanism • video documentary

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
04 MAY 2015

Beyond Bloomsbury: Designs of the Omega Workshops 1913-19

"Established in 1913 by the painter and influential art critic Roger Fry, the Omega Workshops were an experimental design collective, whose members included Vanessa Bell, Duncan Grant and other artists of the Bloomsbury Group.

Well ahead of their time, the Omega Workshops brought the experimental language of avant-garde art to domestic design in Edwardian Britain. They were a laboratory of design ideas, creating a range of objects for the home, from rugs and linens to ceramics, furniture and clothing – all boldly coloured with dynamic abstract patterns. No artist was allowed to sign their work, and everything produced by the Workshops bore only the Greek letter Ω (Omega)."

(The Courtauld Institute of Art)

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1913 • 1919 • Alvaro Guevara • art movement • avant-garde art movement • Bloomsbury Group • bold new designs • British designceramicsclothing design • Cuthbert Hamilton • decorative artsdesign collectivedesign history • design of domestic products • Duncan Grant • Edward McKnight Kauffer • Edward Morgan ForsterEdward Wadsworth • Edward Wolfe • Frederick Etchells • furniture designGeorge Bernard Shaw • Gertrude Stein • Henri Gaudier-Brzeska • home furnishingsinterior design • Israel Zangwill • Jesse Etchells • Lady Ian Hamilton • Lady Maud Cunard • Lady Ottoline Morrell • linen design • linocutlithography • Mikhail Larionov • mosaicnew approaches • Nina Hamnett • Omega artists • Omega Workshops • painted furniture • painted murals • painted silks and linens • Pamela Diamand • Roger Fry • rug • Somerset House • stained glasstablewaretextile design • The Courtauld Institute of Art • upholstery • Vanessa Bell • vibrant abstract design • Virginia WoolfWilliam Butler Yeats • Winifred Gill • woodblock prints • woven wools • Wyndham Lewis

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
02 MARCH 2013

The Vorticists: a short-lived 20th century avant garde art movement

"The vorticists did not have many members; nor did the movement last long, because of unfortunate timing – it formed in 1914 as Europe hurtled towards war. By 1918 there was not much appetite for dogmatic groups such as theirs.

Nevertheless, the group holds an important place in 20th–century British art history.

'They were the first abstract modernist group in Britain,' said Stephens. 'It inevitably comes out of the revolution of cubism, but then, so does everything in the 20th century.'

They were part of a maelstrom of new, aggressive art 'ism' movements, not least the one practised by the Italian futurists, who were, in Lewis's eyes, the bad guys.

Stephens said: 'Unlike the futurists, who celebrate the energy of the machine and actual war as a purging force, the vorticists were engaged in more universal ideas of identity, time and movement in a philosophical sense.'"

(Mark Brown, 13 June 2011, The Guardian)

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1914 • 20th century • abstract modernist group • aggressive art • Alvin Langdon Coburn • angular shapesart exhibitionart movementavant-garde • Blast (journal) • British art • cometism • cubismcubist and abstract art • David Bomberg • disruptive pattern • Dore Gallery • Dorothy Shakespear • Edward Wadsworth • Ezra Pound • Futurism (art movement)Hayward Gallery • Helen Saunders • ism • jazz rhythm • Lawrence Atkinson • maelstrom • Manifesto for a Modern World • movementpaintingpattern • Penguin Club • purging force • short-lived • Tate Britainthe energy of the machine • universal ideas • universal modernity • vanished works • visual abstractionvorticism • vorticists • William Robertswomen artistswomen in art and designWorld War IWyndham Lewis

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
08 OCTOBER 2012

The Feral Diagram: Graffiti and Street Art 2011

"This diagram was meant as a challenge to the prevailing art world hegemony. It was created to prove the argument that graffiti and street art were already at the center of the art world whether they were officially recognized or not.

Utilizing the same graphic vocabulary as Alfred H. Barr, Jr (the first director of MoMA for the cover of the catalog for Cubist and Abstract Art exhibition in 1937) to create an impression of authority equivalent to his diagram. The Feral Diagram picks up chronologically where Barr left off, thereby subverting and redirecting the officially recognized historical trajectory.

Six years after the first draft of this diagram, the acknowledgement of graffiti and street art as important movements within the fine art community, if not the most important movements at the beginning of the new millenium, has come to light with major museum retrospectives, a never ending stream of books on the subject, websites, products, etc."

(Daniel Feral, 2011, Flickr)

Fig.1 revised "Feral Diagram 2.0" version.

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19372011 • Alfred Barr • art movementauthorised voicechartcritiquecubist and abstract art • Daniel Feral • diagram • Feral Diagram 2.0 • Futurism 2.0 • graffitigraffiti art • graphic vocabulary • hegemony • historical imaginings • historical trajectory • information graphicsMoMANYC • Pantheon Projects Group • posterpowerstreet art • The Feral Diagram • visual artvisual communicationvisualisation

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
20 MAY 2011

The Fluxus Reader offers the first comprehensive overview on this challenging and controversial group

"Fluxus began in the 1950s as a loose, international community of artists, architects, composers and designers. By the 1960s, Fluxus has become a laboratory of ideas and an arena for artistic exprmentation in Europe, Asia and the United States. Described as 'the most radical and experimental art movement of the 1960s', Fluxus challenged conventional thinking on art and culture for over four decades. It had a central role in the birth of such key contemporary art forms as concept art, installation, performance art, intermedia and video. Despite this influence, the scope and scale of this unique phenomenon have made it difficult to explain Fluxus in normative historical and critical terms. The Fluxus Reader offers the first comprehensive overview on this challenging and controversial group. The Fluxus Reader is written by leading scholars and experts from Europe and the United States."

(Ken Friedman, Swinburne Research Bank)

Fig.1 Robert Watts (1965). 'TV Dinner' from the exhibition Art in Our Time: 1950 to the Present, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, September 5, 1999 to September 2, 2001.

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1950sarchitectsart and cultureart movement • artistic experimentation • artistic practiceartistsAsiaAustraliaavant-gardechallenging conventional thinking • composers • concept art • contemporary art forms • creative practicecritiquedesignersEuropeexperimentalFluxus • Fluxus Reader • installationintermediainternational communityjournal • laboratory of ideas • North Americaperformance artpre-prepared mealradical • Swinburne University • video art

CONTRIBUTOR

Simon Perkins
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