The Crisis of Modern Art: Dada and Surrealism
The Transformation of Poverty and the Transformation of the Revolutionary Project
From then till now . . . nothing. For nearly half a century, art has repeated itself, each repetition feebler, more inane than the last. Only today, with the first signs of a more highly evolved revolt within a more highly developed capitalism, can the radical project of modern art be taken up again and taken up more coherently. It is not enough for art to seek its realisation in practice; practice must also seek its art. The bourgeois artists, rebelling against the mediocrity of mere survival, which was all their class could guarantee, were always tragically at cross-purposes with the traditional revolutionary movement. While the artists -- from Keats to the Marx Brothers -- were trying to invent the richest possible experience of an absent life, the working class -- at least on the level of their official theory and organisation -- were struggling for the very survival the artists rejected. Only now, with the Welfare State, with the gradual accession of the whole proletariat to hitherto 'bourgeois' standards of comfort and leisure, can the two movements converge and lose their traditional animosity. As, in mechanical succession, the problems of material survival are solved and as life, in an equally mechanical succession, becomes more and more disgusting, all revolt becomes essentially a revolt against the quality of experience. One knows very few people dying of hunger. But everyone one knows is dying of boredom.
The Realisation of Art and the Permanent Revolution of Everyday Life
"The goal of the Situationists is immediate participation in a varied and passionate life, through moments which are both transient and consciously controlled. The value of these moments can only lie in their real effect. The Situationists see cultural activity, from the point of view of the totality, as a method of experimental construction of everyday life, which can be developed indefinitely with the extension of leisure and the disappearance of the division of labour (and, first and foremost, the artistic division of labour). Art can stop being an interpretation of sensations and become an immediate creation of more highly evolved sensations. The problem is how to produce ourselves, and not the things which enslave us." ("Theses on the Cultural Revolution," Internationale Situationniste No. 1, 1958)