“a healthy opposition to ideologies” (I miss my Dad today)

A link from Infoshop leads to a Web site called Little Black Cart, which is a combination blog and shopping cart for books, mags, ‘zines, etc.  Reading topics include: anarchism, communism, culture, green anarchy, situationist, insurrection, anarchy, autonomism, and surrealism.  Here is what they write about Situationists.

The Situationists (or Sits) were artists from various countries who formed a group in the 1950s called The Situationist Internationale. They critiqued modern society in its various economic, social, and political aspects. They wanted to bring Marxism up to date, to construct a theory of what was going on in society that was preventing people from being able to live fully and act freely. The result was a critique that centered around everyday life, rather than on abstract economic forces. The idea of the “Spectacle” (the empty roles and values and passive rituals that modern life both perpetuates and relies upon) was at the heart of this.

The Situationists were characterized by a healthy opposition to ideologies (if you think of ideologies as sets of ideas that people pledge allegiance to, stop thinking critically about, and only defend). As part of that opposition the Sits denied that there was such a thing as Situationism, doing their best to fight off the stultifying, paralyzing effects of dogma and the party line.

I think I got “a healthy opposition to ideologies” from my Dad, a Congregational minister who left the church to become a professor at a community college and a maximum security prison.  I remember him talking about why he left the church, in that he felt the church as an institution in general was heading in the wrong direction.  This was in the early 1970s during the height of the Vietnam War and civil rights movements.  He said that he felt he would be a better minister working with those from a disadvantaged working class and others who deserve equal opportunities in life.

Shepard Fairey, a RISD grad, quotes the Situationists as an influence in his own work as a street and sticker artist.  His Obey Giant campaign “manufactures quality dissent since 1989.”

I have come across a number of German stickers in the past five years that reflect Situationist perspectives, which will be the subject of one of my text panels for the upcoming exhibition at SLU, “Contemporary Street Art in Berlin as Cultural Expression and Political Protest.”  Quiet mornings are helping me formulate the exhibition in my mind, and I realized today that the subject headings in my sticker database will form a perfect framework for these text panels.

In the context of German street art, I’d say that anarchy is not about lawless chaos.  Rather, according the Oxford English Dictionary (via Wikipedia), it refers to “A social state in which there is no governing person or group of people, but each individual has absolute liberty (without the implication of disorder.)  But is bound by a social code.”

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