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Document Type

Feature Article

Publication Date

Fall 9-1-2010

Publication Title

Washington University Undergraduate Research Digest: WUURD 6(1)


Peer Editors: Rachel Bowling and Akhila Narla; Faculty Mentor: Alicia Walker

The Situationist International was a group of radical-leftist artists, poets, and theorists who operated in Paris during the 1950s and 1960s. Founded by Guy Debord and Constant Nieuwenhuys, the Situationists tried to inspire the public to realize that mass production, consumerism, and the post-World War II, planned city constrained humanity’s creativity. The group produced publications mocking the glossy magazines of the time and proposed alternative plans for the urban environment. The Situationists directly opposed the gridded city by creating web-like superstructures designed to blanket European urban centers. Yet the Situationists’ experimental, even fantastical, models were never implemented because the group lacked political and social traction. This work sheds new light on the Situationists’ practices of the dérive (urban wandering), détournmonte (re-appropriation of popular imagery), and the theory of unitary urbanism. After examining the Situationists’ textual and visual archives, it becomes evident that these three tenets are infused with playful interactions. This project demonstrates that Situationists centered their lives and designs on play in order to foster uninhibited creativity.

From the Washington University Undergraduate Research Digest: WUURD, Volume 6, Issue 1, Fall 2010. Published by the Office of Undergraduate Research.

Henry Biggs, Director of Undergraduate Research and Associate Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences; Joy Zalis Kiefer, Undergraduate Research Coordinator, Co-editor, and Assistant Dean in the College of Arts & Sciences; Kristin Sobotka, Editor.


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