The question of the contemporary artist's role in social and political protest movements is a topic that I have been discussing and thinking about a great deal in recent months both inside and outside the classroom. This is of course an area that is already an important component of much of modern and contemporary art history, but the past year's global events have brought the spotlight back to this issue with a new urgency. Most recently, I facilitated an SFU Philosophers Cafe
with a group of interested participants drawn from a cross-section of the public where the discussion centered on how artists have faced challenges in recent decades with defining an activist role within new public arenas increasingly defined by digital and social media. And last weekend, more of these questions were addressed when I took part in a Peace Symposium and also helped facilitate a tour of an exhibition of Goya's Disasters of War prints
organized by the National Gallery of Canada, and now on display at the Reach Gallery in Abbotsford
|Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle|
remains a key text associated with
the S.I. movement.
An important aspect of these conversations relates to the legacy of artist's participation in previous social and political movements, and it became clear to me at these events and through discussion with people interested in the topic that it might be useful to create mini archival round-ups of key art movements/artists from existing materials on the web to help inform and educate individuals on the topic. Coincidentally enough, Ubu Web
(the largest web-based educational resource for all things avant-garde related) began tweeting this past week on links related to the Situationist International-- one of the core art movements involved with the May 1968 student uprisings in Paris. I'd like to think Ubu Web was simply on the same wave-length of so many of us thinking about the state of global affairs and the role of artist activism. It remains both inspiring and critically valuable to learn what we can from these previous movements to relate to our present circumstances. In the coming weeks, I will put together a number of these mini digital archive round-ups to help continue the conversations started at these events, and as a way to keep the spirit of open learning activated beyond the face to face meetings.
The Situationist International
Guy Debord's Biography
Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle (1967)
Documentary on the Situationist International, 1956-72
Collection of Guy Debord's Soundworks
Collection of Situationist Films
Situationist International Text Library