Mémoires – Asger Jorn/Guy Debord (Situationist International, 1959)

Mémoires (Memories) is an artist’s book made by the Danish artist Asger Jorn in collaboration with the French artist and theorist Guy Debord. Printed in 1959, it is the second of two collaborative books by the two men whilst they were both members of the Situationist International. The book is a work of psychogeography, detailing a period in Debord’s life when he was in the process of leaving the Lettrists, setting up Lettrism International, and showing his ‘first masterpiece’, Hurlements en Faveur de Sade (Howling in Favour of Sade), a film devoid of imagery that played white when people were talking on the soundtrack and black during the lengthy silences between. Credited to Guy-Ernest Debord, with structures portantes (‘load-bearing structures’) by Asger Jorn, the book contains 64 pages divided into three sections. The first section is called ‘June 1952’, and starts with a quote from Marx: Let the dead bury the dead, and mourn them…. our fate will be to become the first living people to enter the new life. The second section, ‘December 1952’, quotes Huizinga, and the third, ‘September 1953’, quotes Soubise. The work contains two separate layers. The first is printed with black ink, reproducing found text and graphics taken from newspapers and magazines. The second layer is printed using coloured inks, splashed across the pages. These sometimes connect images and text, sometimes cover them, and sometimes are seemingly unconnected. The black layer contains fragments of text, maps of Paris and London, illustrations of siege warfare, cheap reproductions of old masters and questions such as ‘How do you feel about the world at the moment, Sir?’ The coloured layer contains freefloating ink splashes, lines created by a matchstick loaded in ink, and a Rorschach inkblob. Other pages deal with more personal themes, including a cartoon of the first showing of his film Hurlements en Faveur de Sade, with comments for and against, and references to Dérive, which would become known as Situationist Drift, the habit of walking aimlessly through a city in an attempt to find its spirit. Détournement (‘diversion’ or ‘disruption’) is also employed in the book to disorient the reader by creating startling collaged juxtapositions. Originally deriving from Dada, détournement would become a key situationist strategy. …”
Uneasy Arrangements: Looking at Guy Debord’s Memoires
Met Museum: Mémoires 1959
libcom: Mémoires – Guy Debord and Asger Jorn

About 1960s: Days of Rage

Bill Davis - 1960s: Days of Rage
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