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Socratic Circle Final Exam on
Thursday, December 13
8 to 10:30 AM











The Situationists International

The Worrying Duck

Founded in 1957, the Situationists International was an avant-garde activist group that attacked capitalism in Western society for transforming citizens into passive consumers of depoliticized media spectacle. They asserted that the spectacle replaced active participation in public life.


Asger Jorn, The Worrying Duck, 1959.











The highly influential Situationist book The Society of the Spectacle argued that spectacular features like mass media and advertising have a central role in an advanced capitalist society, which is to show a fake reality in order to mask the real capitalist degradation of human life. To overthrow such a system, the group supported the May 1968 revolts in Paris, and asked the workers to occupy the factories and to run them with direct democracy, through workers' councils composed by instantly revocable delegates.

Sorbonne Graffitti

Vandalism in the Sobornne University, 1968











The “Situationist International” were heavily involved in the student/worker demonstrations and protests of 1968. The group rejected all art that separated itself from politics, and believed that the notion of artistic expression being separated from politics and current events “renders artwork that expresses comprehensive critiques of society impotent.” - Art Daily October 11, 2012


University of Lyon, 1968











  • We will ask nothing. We will demand nothing. We will take, occupy.
  • Expect anything. Fear nothing.
  • Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!
  • Those who make revolutions half way only dig their own graves.
  • Boredom is a pattern, not reality.
  • We don’t want a world where the guarantee of not dying of starvation brings the risk of dying of boredom.
  • In a society that has abolished every kind of adventure the only adventure that remains is to abolish the society.
  • Warning: ambitious careerists may now be disguised as “progressives.”
  • Stalinists, your children are with us!
  • A single nonrevolutionary weekend is infinitely more bloody than a month of total revolution.
  • Under the paving stones, the beach.
  • Live without dead time.
  • Be realistic, demand the impossible.
  • If God existed it would be necessary to abolish him.
  • Fall in love, not in line!
Situationist Graffitti in Paris, May 1968.











Situationist International from on Vimeo.











Lunch counter sit-in, 1961
I Am A Man March, 1965.











"Long Hot Summer of 1967" 159 events of civil unrest across the United States
Civil unrest in Watts, August, 1965.
Newark Rebellion, 1967.
Six days of unrest, 34 deaths, 1,032 injuries, 3,438 arrests, and over $40 million in property damage
In Detroit, five days of unrest, 43 dead, 1,189 injured, over 7,200 arrests, and more than 2,000 buildings destroyed











Duane Hanson, Race Riot, 1968.
Duane Hanson, Tourists II, 1988. Polyester resin, fiberglass and human paraphernalia.











Columbia Student Protest, 1968.

More on the Columbia University Action










1968 and Anti Form
  • North Korea captures US spy ship and takes crew hostage
  • North Vietnam launches Tet offensive eventually leading to U.S. withdrawal
  • Czechoslovakia invaded by Russia
  • Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinated
  • Marcel Duchamp dies
  • Olympic medalists, Tommie Smith and John Carlos raise their fists during the National Anthem to protest racism
  • German students protest capitalism and the exploitation of the common man
  • French student and worker strikes nearly bring down the government
  • Students at Columbia, NYU, Kent State and other universities protest wars in Vietnam & Cambodia, the draft, and institutionalized racism
  • Pope condemns birth control
  • Star Trek airs first interracial kiss on U.S. television
  • Night of the Living Dead
  • First manned spacecraft orbits the moon. Apollo 11 will land on the moon the following year.
  • Worst oil spill yet off the coast of Santa Barbara leads to the establishment of the EPA and largest oil reserve in North America discovered in Alaska











Guy Debord's aim and proposal, was "to wake up the spectator who has been drugged by spectacular images," "through radical action in the form of the construction of situations," "situations that bring a revolutionary reordering of life, politics, and art." In the Situationist view, situations are actively created moments characterized by "a sense of self-consciousness of existence within a particular environment or ambience."

Christo, Wrapped sculpture in the garden of the Villa Borghese, Rome
Barry Le Va, On Edge, Shatter, Scatter, 1968.











Yellow Jacket demonstration December, 2018











Louise Bourgeois, Filette (Little Girl) (Sweeter Version), 1968.


"In Louise Bourgeois' work, we are often faced with the presence of subjects who desire, and who desire sexually. They are not immediate figures of desire but they position themselves clearly as operations of desire. Bourgeois' vengeance on the constraints of the "wish to know" is to create the disorder of the forbidden. The right to know is my birth right." - Edward Lucie-Smith











Draft card burning, 1969
Malcolm Browne, Thích Quiang Duc's self-immolation, 1963











Post-Structuralism = philosophical approach based on the idea that words and photographs are unstable and cannot be trusted, and that everything is a momentary construction with no ultimate meaning or truth.
Edward Ruscha, The Los Angeles County Museum on Fire, 1968.











Asco, Spray Paint LACMA, 1972.











East L.A. Brownout, 1968











1968 Earthwork movement launched by
group exhibition "Earthworks" at the Dwan Gallery
Earthworks = (a.k.a. Land art) form of art which came to prominence in the late 60s and 70s primarily concerned with the natural environment. Materials such as rocks, sticks, soil, and plants are commonly used, and the works frequently exist in the open and are left to change and erode under natural conditions.
Robert Smithson essay A Sedimentation of the Mind: Earth Projects provided a critical framework for the movement
Robert Smithson, Nonsite, 1968.











Spiral Jetty

Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, 1970.























Sprial Jetty film stills

Robert Smithson, Documentation of film stills from Spiral Jetty, 1970.











Entropy = 1) a measure of the amount of energy in a physical system that cannot be used to do work; a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system's thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system. 2) lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder.
ice water
Related to the Second Law of Thermodynamics = the idea that energy dissipates toward a disintegrated homogeneity of matter. Entropy negates the concept of progress on the scale of geological time.
a classic example of entropy described in 1862 by Rudolf Clausius as an increase in the disgregation of the molecules of the body of ice.











Robert Smithson's Spiral Jetty made pink by algae in the Great Salt Lake, 2011.











Double Negative

Double Negative

Michael Heizer, Double Negative, 1968 - 1970.
Center for Land Use Interpretation, Michael Heizer, Double Negative present day











Robert Smithson, Partially Buried Woodshed, 1970.











Partially Buried Woodshed
Partially Buried Woodshed
Partially Buried Woodshed
Robert Smithson, Partially Buried Woodshed, 1970 to present day.
in progress
January 1970
current state











National Guard descneding on protesters at Kent State University May, 1970.











Kent State

John Paul Filo, 14-year-old Mary Ann Vecchio kneels over the dead body of Jeffrey Miller, who was shot by the Ohio National Guard during the Kent State shootings, 1970.


Kent State student Alan Canfora speaks about the shooting of Jeffrey Milller





















Plywood Show

Lover Boys

Robert Morris, Plywood Show, 1964.
Felix Gonzalez torres, Untitled (Corner of Baci), 1990.










Placcebo installed

Felix Gonzalez Torres,  Untitled (Placebo), 1991.











Mexican Professor Protesting with 43 Chairs, November, 2014.
His sign reads, “I can’t teach, I’m missing 43. I don’t want you to go missing next.”











Postmodernism = name for many stylistic reactions to, and developments from, modernism. Postmodern style is often characterized by eclecticism, digression, collage, pastiche, and irony. Postmodern theorists see postmodern art as a reversal of well-established modernist systems, such as the roles of artist versus audience, seriousness versus play, or high culture versus kitsch.
  • Postmodernists believe that no single truth exists
  • Everything that can be done, has been done
  • Sense that the avant-garde has broken down -
    there is no longer a shared message or purpose
  • Embrace diversity
  • Encourage parody, irony and playfulness
Sigmar Polke, Bunnies, 1966.
Acrylic on canvas, 59 x 39-½ in.











Yasumasa Morimura, Portrait, 2013.











Hal Foster proposes "critical theory has served as a secret continuation of the avant-garde by other means. After the climax of the 1968 revolts, it also occupied the position of cultural politics, at least to the extent that radical rhetoric compensated a little for lost activism." Indeed, it is a popularly held view within cultural studies that the ’68 uprisings were the last genuine flowering of a politically emulsified avant-garde, the last moment – in the West at least – that art and politics met and worked towards a common aim before radical politics and contemporary art skulked off to their respective departments within the academy or under the bright lights of what Foster calls the ‘false pluralism of the posthistorical museum market where anything goes (as long as accepted forms predominate).’ - John Douglas Millar
Sigmar Polke, Dublin, 1968.











The notion of a collapse between the real and the apparent is suggested in Nietzsche's first book, The Birth of Tragedy (1967), where he presents Greek tragedy as a synthesis of natural art impulses represented by the gods Apollo and Dionysus. Where Apollo is the god of beautiful forms and images, Dionysus is the god of frenzy and intoxication, under whose sway the spell of individuated existence is broken in a moment of undifferentiated oneness with nature. While tragic art is life-affirming in joining these two impulses, logic and science are built upon Apollonian representations that have become frozen and lifeless. Hence, Nietzsche believes only a return of the Dionysian art impulse can save modern society from sterility and nihilism. This interpretation presages postmodern concepts of art and representation, and also anticipates postmodernists' fascination with the prospect of a revolutionary moment auguring a new, anarchic sense of community.
Mark Rothko, late 60s.











"I pursue no objectives, no system, no tendency; I have no program, no style, no direction. I steer clear of definitions. I do not know what I want. I am inconsistent, non-committal, passive; I like the indefinite, the boundless; I like continual uncertainty." - Gerhard Richter



Gerhard Richter, Eight Student Nurses, 1966.











the painting is a copy of a photograph
the photograph is a copy of the "original"
the "original" may have been set up to remind the viewer of something prior
"This image does not represent reality, it represents paint." - David Hopkins
Gerhard Richter, Helen, 1964.

Gerhard Richter, Woman Descending Staircase, 1965.











Gerhard Richter, High Diver, 1965.












Thank you!