Depoliticized Media Spectacle
"In societies where modern conditions of production prevail, all of life presents itself as an immense accumulation of spectacles. Everything that was directly lived has moved away into a representation."
- Guy Debord

The Venetian in Las Vegas

Society of the Spectacle

The Venetian in Las Vegas
Guy Debord, Society of the Spectacle, 1967.











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.


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
Asger Jorn, The Worrying Duck, 1959.











Situationist International from on Vimeo.











1968 and Anti Form
  • North Korea captures US spy ship and takes crew hostage
  • North Vietnam launches Tet offensive eventually leading to US withdrawal
  • Czechoslovakia invaded by Russia
  • Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King assassinated
  • Marcel Duchamp dies
  • Olympic medalists, Tommie Smith and John Carlos raised 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 University, NYU, Kent State and others protest wars in Vietnam & Cambodia, the draft, and institutionalized racism
  • Pope condemned birth control
  • Star Trek airs first interracial kiss on US television
  • 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











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











Feminists protest 1968 Miss America Pageant
University of Lyon











Paris University Graffitti

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!
"Life instead" graffiti at the University of Paris, May 1968.











Debord's aim and proposal, is "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
Christo, Wrapped Car, 1963.











The Wall

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, The Wall, 1999.
13,000 Oil Barrels in oil storage, Oberhausen, Germany.











Pont Neuf Wrapped
Christo and Jeanne-Claude, The Pont Neuf Wrapped, Paris, 1975 - 1985.


"Christo works an average of 17 hours a day - 7 days a week. Jeanne-Claude is a bit more lazy - only 12 to 13 hours a day. They do not take vacations." -











Running Fence

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972 - 1976.











Running Fence

Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Running Fence, Sonoma and Marin Counties, California, 1972 - 1976.











Demonstartion against Bavarian Revolution in front of the Reichstag, 1933











Plans for the wrapping of the Reichstag

Christo and Jeanne-Claude,
Wrapped Reichstag, Project for Berlin, 1979.
Christo and Jeanne-Claude,
Wrapped Reichstag, Project for Berlin, 1979.











Annie Sommerland, Reichstag c. 2006











Christo and Jeanne-Claude, The Gates, Central Park, New York, 1979 - 2005.











Christo and Jeanne Claude, Over the River proposed installation over the Arkansas River in Colorado











Columbia Student Protest, 1968.

More on the Columbia University Action