Guy Debord

Writer, filmmaker, and cultural revolutionary, Guy Debord (1931–1994) was a founding member of the Lettrist International and Situationist International groups. His films and books, including Society of the Spectacle (1967), were major catalysts for philosophical and political changes in the twentieth century, and helped trigger the May 1968 rebellion in France.

  • Correspondence

    Correspondence

    The Foundation of the Situationist International (June 1957–August 1960)

    Guy Debord

    Letters by writer, filmmaker, and cultural revolutionary Guy Debord conjure a vivid picture of the dynamic first years of the Situationist International movement.

    Yesterday, the police interrogated me at length about the journal and other Situationist organizations. It was only a beginning. This is, I think, one of the principal threats that came up quickly during the discussion: the police want to consider the S.I. as an association to bring about the destruction of France.—from CorrespondenceThis volume traces the dynamic first years of the Situationist International movement—a cultural avant-garde that continues to inspire new generations of artists, theorists, and writers more than half a century later. Debord's letters—published here for the first time in English—provide a fascinating insider's view of just how this seemingly disorganized group drifting around a newly consumerized Paris became one of the most defining cultural movements of the twentieth century. Circumstances, personalities, and ambitions all come into play as the group develops its strategy of anarchic, conceptual, but highly political “intervention.” Brilliantly conceived, this collection of letters offers the best available introduction to the Situationist International movement by detailing, through original documents, how the group formed and defined its cultural mission: to bring about, “by any means possible, even artistic,” a complete transformation of personal life within the Society of the Spectacle.

    • Hardcover $55.00 £43.00
    • Paperback $19.95 £14.99
  • The Society of the Spectacle

    The Society of the Spectacle

    Guy Debord

    For the first time, Guy Debord's pivotal work Society of the Spectacle appears in a definitive and authoritative English translation. Originally published in France in 1967, Society of the Spectacle offered a set of radically new propositions about the nature of contemporary capitalism and modern culture. At the same time it was one of the most influential theoretical works for a wide range of political and revolutionary practice in the 1960s. Today, Debord's work continues to be in the forefront of debates about the fate of consumer society and the operation of modern social power. In a sweeping revision of Marxist categories, the notion of the spectacle takes the problem of the commodity from the sphere of economics to a point at which the commodity as an image dominates not only economic exchange but the primary communicative and symbolic activity of all modern societies.

    Guy Debord was one of the most important participants in the activities associated with the Situationist International in the 1960s. Also an artist and filmmaker, he is the author of Memoires and Commentaires sur la société du spectacle.

    A Swerve Edition, distributed for Zone Books.

    • Hardcover $32.95 £22.95
    • Paperback $21.95 £16.99

Contributor

  • Situation

    Situation

    Claire Doherty

    Key texts on the notion of “situation” in art and theory that consider site, place, and context, temporary interventions, remedial actions, place-making, and public space.

    Situation—a unique set of conditions produced in both space and time and ranging across material, social, political, and economic relations—has become a key concept in twenty-first-century art. Rooted in artistic practices of the 1960s and 1970s, the idea of situation has evolved and transcended these in the current context of globalization. This anthology offers key writings on areas of art practice and theory related to situation, including notions of the site specific, the artist as ethnographer or fieldworker, the relation between action and public space, the meaning of place and locality, and the crucial role of the curator in recent situation specific art.

    In North America and Europe, the site-specific is often viewed in terms of resistance to art's commoditization, while elsewhere situation-specific practices have defied institutions of authority. The contributors discuss these recent tendencies in the context of proliferating international biennial exhibitions, curatorial place-bound projects, and strategies by which artists increasingly unsettle the definition and legitimation of situation-based art.

    Artists Surveyed Vito Acconci, Allora & Calzadilla, Francis Alÿs, Carl Andre, Artist Placement Group, Michael Asher, Amy Balkin, Ursula Biemann, Bik Van der Pol, Daniel Buren, Victor Burgin, Janet Cardiff, Center for Land Use Interpretation, Adam Chodzko, Collective Actions, Tacita Dean, Elmgreen & Dragset, Andrea Fraser, Hamish Fulton, Dan Graham, Liam Gillick, Renée Green, Group Material, Douglas Huebler, Bethan Huws, Pierre Huyghe, Robert Irwin, Emily Jacir, Ilya Kabakov, Leopold Kessler, Július Koller, Langlands & Bell, Ligna, Richard Long, Gordon Matta-Clark, Graeme Miller, Jonathan Monk, Robert Morris, Gabriel Orozco, Walid Ra'ad, Raqs Media Collective, Paul Rooney, Martha Rosler, Allen Ruppersberg, Richard Serra, Situationist International, Tony Smith, Robert Smithson, Vivan Sundaram, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Lawrence Weiner, Rachel Whiteread, Krzysztof Wodiczko, Qiu Zhijie

    Writers Arjun Appaduri, Marc Augé, Wim Beeren, Josephine Berry Slater, Daniel Birnbaum, Ava Bromberg, Susan Buck-Morss, Michel de Certeau, Douglas Crimp, Gilles Deleuze, T. J. Demos, Rosalyn Deutsche, Thierry de Duve, Charles Esche, Graeme Evans, Patricia Falguières, Marina Fokidis, Hal Foster, Hou Hanrou, Brian Holmes, Mary Jane Jacob, Vasif Kortun, Miwon Kwon, Lu Jie, Doreen Massey, James Meyer, Ivo Mesquita, Brian O'Doherty, Craig Owens, Irit Rogoff, Peter Weibel

  • Utopias

    Utopias

    Richard Noble

    Utopian strategies in contemporary art seen in the context of the histories of utopian thinking and avant-garde art.

    Throughout its diverse manifestations, the utopian entails two related but contradictory elements: the aspiration to a better world, and the acknowledgement that its form may only ever live in our imaginations. Furthermore, we are as haunted by the failures of utopian enterprise as we are inspired by the desire to repair the failed and build the new. Contemporary art reflects this general ambivalence. The utopian impulse informs politically activist and relational art, practices that fuse elements of art, design, and architecture, and collaborative projects aspiring to progressive social or political change. Two other tendencies have emerged in recent art: a looking backward to investigate the utopian elements of previous eras, and the imaginative modeling of alternative worlds as intimations of possibility. This anthology contextualizes these utopian currents in relation to political thought, viewing the utopian as a key term in the artistic lineage of modernity. It illuminates how the exploration of utopian themes in art today contributes to our understanding of contemporary cultures, and the possibilities for shaping their futures.

    Artistis surveyed include Joseph Beuys, Paul Chan, Guy Debord, Jeremy Deller, Liam Gillick, Antony Gormley, Dan Graham, Thomas Hirschhorn, Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, Bodys Isek Kingelez, Paul McCarthy, Constant A. Nieuwenheuys, Paul Noble, Nils Norman, Philippe Parreno, Pil and Galia Kollectiv, Superflex, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Mark Titchner, Atelier van Lieshout, Jeff Wall, Andy Warhol, Wochenklauser, Carey Young.

    Writers include Theodor Adorno, Jennifer Allen, Catherine Bernard, Ernst Bloch, Yve-Alain Bois, Nicolas Bourriaud, Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, Alex Farquharson, Hal Foster, Michel Foucault, Alison Green, Fredric Jameson, Rosalind Krauss, Hari Kunzru, Donald Kuspit, Dermis P. Leon, Karl Marx, Jeremy Millar, Thomas More, William Morris, Molly Nesbit, Hans Ulrich Obrist, George Orwell, Jacques Rancière, Stephanie Rosenthal, Beatrix Ru.

  • Appropriation

    Appropriation

    David Evans

    Important documents and appraisals of appropriation art from Duchamp's readymades to feminist and postcolonial critique.

    Scavenging, replicating, or remixing, many influential artists today reinvent a legacy of “stealing” images and forms from other makers. Among the diverse, often contestatory strategies included under the heading “appropriation” are the readymade, détournement, pastiche, rephotography, recombination, simulation and parody. Although appropropriation is often associated with the 1980s practice of such artists as Peter Halley, Sherrie Levine, Richard Prince, and Cindy Sherman, as well as the critical discourse of postmodernism and the simulacral theory of Jean Baudrillard, appropriation's significance for art is not limited by that cultural and political moment. In an expanded art-historical frame, this book recontextualizes avant-garde photomontage, the Duchampian readymade, and the Pop image among such alternative precursors as Francis Picabia, Bertolt Brecht, Guy Debord, Akasegawa Genpei, Dan Graham, Cildo Meireles, and Martha Rosler. In the recent work of many artists, including Mike Kelley, Glenn Ligon, Pierre Huyghe, and Aleksandra Mir, among others, appropriation is central to their critique of the contemporary world and vision for alternative futures

    Artists surveyed include Akasegawa Genpei, Santiago Álvarez, Art Workers Coalition, Ross Bleckner, Marcel Broodthaers, Victor Burgin, Maurizio Cattelan, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Douglas Gordon, Johan Grimonprez, Peter Halley, Hank Herron, Pierre Huyghe, Mike Kelley, Idris Khan, Barbara Kruger, Sherrie Levine, Glenn Ligon, Steve McQueen, Alexandra Mir, Keith Piper, Richard Prince, Jorma Puranen, Cindy Sherman, John Stezaker, Retort, Martha Rosler, Philip Taaffe.

    Writers include Malek Alloula, Jean Baudrillard, Walter Benjamin, Nicolas Bourriaud, Benjamin H. D. Buchloh, Johanna Burton, Douglas Crimp, Thomas Crow, Guy Debord, Georges Didi-Huberman, Marcel Duchamp, Okwui Enwezor, Jean-Luc Godard, Isabelle Graw, Boris Groys, Raoul Hausmann, Sven Lütticken, Cildo Meireles, Kobena Mercer, Slobodan Mijuskovic, Laura Mulvey, Jo Spence, Elisabeth Sussman, Lisa Tickner, Reiko Tomii, Andy Warhol.

  • Autonomia, New Edition

    Autonomia, New Edition

    Post-Political Politics

    Sylvère Lotringer and Christian Marazzi

    The only first-hand document and contemporaneous analysis of the most innovative post-'68 radical movement in the West, the creative, futuristic, neo-anarchistic, postideological Autonomia.

    Most of the writers who contributed to the issue were locked up at the time in Italian jails.... I was trying to draw the attention of the American Left, which still believed in Eurocommunism, to the fate of Autonomia. The survival of the last politically creative movement in the West was at stake, but no one in the United States seemed to realize that, or be willing to listen. Put together as events in Italy were unfolding, the Autonomia issue—which has no equivalent in Italy, or anywhere for that matter—arrived too late, but it remains an energizing account of a movement that disappeared without bearing a trace, but with a big future still ahead of it.—Sylvère LotringerSemiotext(e) is reissuing in book form its legendary magazine issue Italy: Autonomia: Post-Political Politics, originally published in New York in 1980. Edited by Sylvère Lotringer and Christian Marazzi with the direct participation of the main leaders and theorists of the Autonomist movement (including Antonio Negri, Mario Tronti, Franco Piperno, Oreste Scalzone, Paolo Virno, Sergio Bologna, and Franco Berardi), this volume is the only first-hand document and contemporaneous analysis that exists of the most innovative post-'68 radical movement in the West. The movement itself was broken when Autonomia members were falsely accused of (and prosecuted for) being the intellectual masterminds of the Red Brigades; but even after the end of Autonomia, this book remains a crucial testimony of the way this creative, futuristic, neo-anarchistic, postideological, and nonrepresentative political movement of young workers and intellectuals anticipated issues that are now confronting us in the wake of Empire. In the next two years, Semiotext(e) will publish eight books by such Italian “Post-Fordist” intellectuals as Antonio Negri, Christian Marazzi, Paolo Virno, and Bifo, as they update the theories of Autonomia for the new century.

    Sylvère Lotringer, general editor of Semiotext(e), lives in New York and Baja California. He is the author of Overexposed: Perverting Perversions (Semiotext(e), 2007). Christian Marazzi, an Italian economist, lives in Switzerland. He is the author of Capital and Language: From the New Economy to the War Economy and Sock's Place, both forthcoming from Semiotext(e).

  • Participation

    Participation

    Claire Bishop

    Art that seeks to produce situations in which relations are formed among viewers is placed in historical and theoretical context in key writings by critics and artists.

    The desire to move viewers out of the role of passive observers and into the role of producers is one of the hallmarks of twentieth-century art. This tendency can be found in practices and projects ranging from El Lissitzky's exhibition designs to Allan Kaprow's happenings, from minimalist objects to installation art. More recently, this kind of participatory art has gone so far as to encourage and produce new social relationships. Guy Debord's celebrated argument that capitalism fragments the social bond has become the premise for much relational art seeking to challenge and provide alternatives to the discontents of contemporary life. This publication collects texts that place this artistic development in historical and theoretical context.

    Participation begins with writings that provide a theoretical framework for relational art, with essays by Umberto Eco, Bertolt Brecht, Roland Barthes, Peter Bürger, Jen-Luc Nancy, Edoaurd Glissant, and Félix Guattari, as well as the first translation into English of Jacques Rancière's influential "Problems and Transformations in Critical Art." The book also includes central writings by such artists as Lygia Clark and Hélio Oiticica, Joseph Beuys, Augusto Boal, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Thomas Hirschhorn, and Rirkrit Tiravanija. And it features recent critical and curatorial debates, with discussions by Lars Bang Larsen, Nicolas Bourriaud, Hal Foster, and Hans-Ulrich Obrist.

    Copublished with Whitechapel Art Gallery, London