Deuxième internationale lettriste [1963]

Deuxième internationale lettriste4 p.; 10.5 x 27 cm.; brown wrappers (kraft paper).

First and only publication of the short-lived Deuxième internationale lettriste, which was founded by Jean-Louis Brau, Gil Wolman and François Dufrêne as an offshot of Lettrisme. Includes short, signed texts by Brau (L’Asymptote toujours) and Wolman “(L’Art a posteriori”) and two unsigned texts (“Positions II” and “Eloge d’Isou”). The front wrapper includes the thumbprints of the authors.

See Frédéric Acquaviva (Ed.), Lettrist Corpus: The Complete Magazines (1946-2016), p. 117.

We locate a single OCLC copy at Yale’s Beinecke Library of this decidedly unusual publication.

Our first book is out! On the Poverty of Student Life (2022)

We are very pleased to announce the forthcoming publication of ON THE POVERTY OF STUDENT LIFE. This new, 376-page edition of the classic pamphlet includes a lot of never-seen before content:

  • A preface, “The Most Scandalous Pamphlet of This Century,” by coeditor Mehdi El Hajoui
  • A critical introduction by coeditor Anna O’Meara, where she explores the relationship between the Zengakuren and the SI
  • An interview with Mustapha Khayati, tracing the origins of the pamphlet and its contemporary resonances (in English and French)
  • A reflection by Allan Antlif on the Black & Red editions of the pamphlet
  • A note by Donald Nicholson-Smith on the first English-language adaptation
  • A facsimile of that adaptation, Ten Days That Shook the University (1967)
  • An early handwritten draft of the first chapter by Mustapha Khayati
  • A facsimile of the original French edition, De la misère en milieu étudiant (1966)
  • A stunning, wide ranging graphic exploration of one hundred editions of On the Poverty of Student Life in twenty or so languages, with their original covers and detailed bibliographical information.

Simply put, a book like this has never before existed. It will surely be embraced by SI enthusiasts new and old, as well as serve as a vital resource for makers and collectors of revolutionary art, and a new generation of student revolutionaries.

You can purchase copies or encourage others to do at the Common Notions website: https://www.commonnotions.org/on-the-poverty-of-student-life. For international orders, Amazon offers shipping to Europe for ~$10. See here. If you can’t afford a copy, you can always ask your (public or university) library to order one.

A limited number of review copies may be available to those interested in bringing more attention to this work. Feel free to write to Malav Kanuga, editor and publisher at malav@commonnotions.org with details.

Alexander Trocchi : 3 original photographs [ca. 1954-late 1970s]

[TROCCHI, Alexander]. [PHOTOGRAPH] [Alexander Trocchi sitting at his desk at 6 St. Stephen’s Gardens, Notting Hill]. n.p. [London, United Kingdom], n.d. [ca. 1964]. 25.4 x 17.3cm B&W print.

Photograph of Trocch seated at his desk and who appears to be sealing envelopes. Perhaps the writer is getting ready to mail the latest issue of Sigma? Photograph by John Hopkins

[TROCCHI, Alexander]. [PHOTOGRAPH] [Alexander Trocchi and Sally Child in Trocchi’s flat in Observatory Gardens, Holland Park]. n.p. [London, United Kingdom], n.d. [ca. 1970s]. 17.8 x 23.9cm. (image size 14.9 x 22.6cm) B&W print.

The photograph — the work of Harold Chapman – shows Trocchi in his book-lined study, seated beside a coffee table covered with, among other objects, a small filing cabinet, cigarette packets, two wine glasses and an opened bottle of Möet & Chandon, while Sally Child, introduced to Trocchi by Robert Creeley’s wife, Penny, and his lover for the last seven years of his life, looks on. Photographer’s stamp and ‘Alexander Trocchi’ written out in ink by the photographer to verso.

[TROCCHI, Alexander]. [PHOTOGRAPH] [Alexander Trocchi in his Holland Park flat]. n.p. [London, United Kingdom], n.d. [ca. 1970s]. 14.7 x 21.5cm B&W print.

Splendid portrait of the tormented artist, the work of Harold Chapman. Photographer’s stamp and brief ink caption by the photographer to verso.

Sigma: A Tactical Blueprint [1964]

TROCCHI, Alexander. [Sigma 3] Sigma: A Tactical Blueprint London: Sigma, 1964. 6 mimeographed p.; 20.5 x 33 cm.; black ink on blue stock then yellow stock.

Trocchi meets Guy Debord in Paris in 1955,  and joins the Internationale Situationniste in 1958. In 1960, he publishes Cain’s book, which offers an apology of drugs and particularly heroin. For this, he was arrested in the United States, which led the Situationists to publish the leaflet Hands off Alexander Trocchi! in October 1960. Trocchi then returns to Europe and becomes part of the editing committee of Internationale Situationniste in 1963. The next year, he launches Project Sigma (more below), which leads to an amicable split with Debord and the S.I.

With Project Sigma, Trocchi tried to establish an international network of countercultural activism largely focused on socially-based institutions perceived as limiting free expression such as the media, universities, and workplaces. For more about Sigma, see http://realitysandwich.com/128311/alexander_trocchi_project_sigma/ and http://omeka.wustl.edu/omeka/items/show/9588

Along with Insurrection of a million minds (Sigma #2), Sigma: A Tactical Blueprint (Sigma #3) is the most important issue of the Sigma portfolio. In it, Trocchi describes the motivations behind and theoretical underpinnings of his Sigma Project:

  • “It is our contention that, for many years now, a change, which might be usefully regarded as evolutionary, has been taking place in the minds of men; they have been becoming aware of the implications of self-consciousness. And, here and there throughout the world, individuals are more or less purposively concerned with evolving techniques to inspire and sustain self-consciousness in all men”
  • “In looking for a word to designate a possible international association of men who are concerned individually and in concert to articulate an effective strategy and tactics for this cultural revolution (cf. The Invisible Insurrection), it was thought necessary to find one which provoked no obvious responses. We chose the word “sigma.” Commonly used in mathematical practice to designate all, the sum, the whole, it seemed to fit very well with our notion that all men must eventually be included”
  • “Actually dispersed as we are, and will be until several self-conscious focal-points (sigma-centres) are established, effective communications are vital. All individuals and groups the world over must be contacted and henceforth invited to participate. People must be located and activated: we are confronted with the technical problem of elaborating the ways of gearing the power of all of us individuals to an effective flywheel.”
  • “All over the world today are little conflagrations of intelligence, little pockets of “situation-making.” Some of the first theorists called themselves “Situationnistes.” Other individuals and groups who appear to us to have similar attitudes are presently being gathered into a comprehensive index which will serve as the basis for our communications. We have to evolve the mechanisms and techniques for a kind of supercategorical cultural organization”

Trocchi also discusses in ample detail his concept of the “spontaneous university” — inspiring future “Free Universities” in London, New York, Copenhagen, and more…

  • “In “The Invisible Insurrection” we touched on the kind of situation we wish to bring about. We conceived it to be a kind of spontaneous university. But the term “university” has some unfortunate connotations and is, besides, too limited to include the entire complex of vital and infectious human processes we have in mind to detonate, first in England and subsequently throughout the world. The original spontaneous university (or sigma-centre) will be a fountainhead only. We are concerned with cities and civilizations, not with “classrooms” in the conventional sense, nevertheless, we are at the beginning of it all and must commence with certain practical considerations. Our experimental situation, our international conference, must be located so that our “cosmonauts” can either congregate or be in contact.”
  • “The more imaginative university teachers all over the world are well aware of these things. But they can do nothing until they can see a possible alternative. Sigma as spontaneous university is such an alternative. It can only grow out of the combined effort of individuals and groups of individuals working unofficially at supernational level. A large country house, not too far from London (and Edinburgh, and New York, and Paris, etc.), is being sought for the pilot project.”
  • ” Then, “the original building will stand deep within its own grounds, preferably on a riverbank. It should be large enough for a pilot-group (astronauts of inner space) to situate itself, orgasm and genius, and their tools and dream-machines and amazing apparatus and appurtenances; with outhouses for workshops large as could accommodate light industry, the entire site to allow for spontaneous architecture and eventual town-planning,” etc. (cf. The Invisible Insurrection.) Here our “experimental laboratory” will locate itself, our community-as-art, and begin exploring the possible functions of a society in which leisure is a dominant fact, and universal community, in which the conventional assumptions about reality and the constraints which they imply are no longer operative, in which art and life are no longer divided. The “university,” which we suspect will have much in common with Joan Littlewood’s “leisuredrome” (if she will forgive my coining a word), will be operated by a “college” of teacher-practioners with no separate administration.”

In addition to its stand-alone publication, “Sigma: A Tactical Blueprint” was published in City Lights Journal #2 in 1964. Full text available at http://www.notbored.org/sigma.html [English]

We locate 4 OCLC copies.

de Kunst-meridiaan 4-5-6 / Taptoe 58 [1958]

de Kunst-meridiaan 4-5-6 / Taptoe 58. [Brussels]: Taptoe, [May] 1958. 64 p.; ill.; 16 x 24 cm.; ill. Wrappers with text in black.

Legendary special issue of the Flemish literary magazine Kunst Meridiaan (founded by Maurice Wyckaert, and which ran from 1951 to 1960) devoted to the Belgian avant-garde gallery Taptoe. Founded in December 1955 by Paul Avicenne, Clara & Gentil Hasaert, Ernest Weyens, and Maurice Wyckaert, Taptoe exhibited the works of numerous up-and-coming artists who would go on to become established. Among those, Roel d’Haese, Pierre Alechinsky, Corneille, Wallase Ting, Maurice Wyckaert, Piero Simondo…Taptoe was also the site of the Première exposition de psychogéographie in 1957, which showcased the works of Yves Klein, Ralph Rumney and Asger Jorn. For more about Galerie Taptoe, see Yale’s Beinecke Library page: https://www.postwarcultureatbeinecke.org/taptoegallery and past entries from this blog here: https://situationnisteblog.wordpress.com//?s=taptoe&search=Go

This special issue includes an important interview of Asger Jorn (printed on a thicker, blue paper), dated March 29, 1956, as well as reproductions of works by Asger Jorn, Serge Vandercam, Roel & Reinhout d’Haese, Claire Haesaert, Maurice Wyckaert, Enrico Baj, and many others.

Referenced in Gonzalvez p. 232 and Raspaud p. 106.

Rare, with no copies surfacing in the trade in the last decade, and only 2 OCLC Copies (Yale, RKD).

Verso I cinquuant’anni dell’ I.S. [2007]

[Verso I cinquant’anni dell’ I.S.]. [Cosio d’Arroscia], [2007]. Broadside. ill.; 42 x 21 cm. (with frame: 59 x 28 cm.)

On Saturday, July 14, 2007, the Liguarian village of Cosio di Arroscia celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the foundation of the Situationist International with a daylong program. In 1957, the avant-gade group was created through the fusion of three other collectives: the Lettrist International, the International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus, and the London Psychogeographical Association (whose sole member was Ralph Rumney).

The program reads as follows:
10am: W THE SITUATIONIST INTERNATIONAL
10:15am: Claudio Canal: The Situationist Organ.
10:45am: Conference: “Report on the Construction of Situations”, remembering Cosio d’Arroscia and Piero Simondo
12-Noon: Remembering the birth of Situationism. Exhibition of works by Simondo
1:00pm: Banquet
3:00pm: “The path” Photographs of Cosio from times past
3:45pm: “The Republic of Artists”
4:15pm: Claudio Canal: The Situationist Organ 2
4:45pm: Conference: The Alps from a hinged border

The photograph is that of the founding members of the SI in Cosio. From left to right: Giuseppe. Pinot-Gallizio, Piero Simondo, Elena Verrone (his wife), Michele Bernstein, Guy Debord, Asger Jorn, and Walter Olmo. Ralph Rumney took the picture.

La Gibigianna. L’uomo di Alba [1960]

PINOT GALLIZIO, Giuseppe. La Gibigianna. L’uomo di Alba. Torino: Edizioni d’Arte Fratelli Pozzo, 1960. [56 p.]; ill.; 27 x 30 cm.; brown library binding.

Second monograph of the Italian artist, following the much more modest publication of the Institut Scandinave de Vandalisme Compare in July of the same year (see PDF in high resolution at http://www.editions-allia.com/files/pdf_508_file.pdf).
Contents include:

  • A brief introduction by Whilem Sandberg (1897-1984), then Director of the Stedelijk Museum, dated June 1960. An early promoter of the post-war European avant-garde movements, Sandberg had sponsored the “first international exhibition of experimental art”, COBRA, in November 1949, causing a scandal. He attempted to organize a Situationist exhibition at the Stedelijk, but a falling out with Debord meant the project never materialized (see https://situationnisteblog.wordpress.com/2021/11/30/guy-debord-et-als-letter-to-willem-sandberg-1958/).
  • A color reproduction of La Gibigianna, an eight-part pictorial project inspired by an eponymous nineteenth-century Italian comedy.
  • The bilingual (English/Italian) text “PINOT GALLIZIO, l’uomo di Alba”, by Maurizio Corgnati, an homage to the painter and his city
  • A biographical sketch of the artist, with over 35 pictures (portraits, reproduction of paintings, etc.)

We locate 9 copies on OCLC of this early, beautiful homage to an artist who didn’t achieve broad recognition until the mid-1970s.

Don’t Network: The Avant Garde after Networks [2018]

LEGER, Marc James. Don’t Network: The Avant Garde after Networks. New York: Minor Compositions, 2018. 360 p.; ill.; 15 x 24 cm.; ill. Black cover with text in white.

“There is something rotten about network society. Although the information economy promises to create new forms of wealth and social cooperation, the real subsumption of labour under post-Fordism has instead produced a social factory of precarious labour and cybernetic surveillance. In this context people have turned to networks as an ersatz solution to social problems. Networks become the agent of history, a technological determinism that in the best-case scenario leads to post-capitalism but at worst leads to new forms of exploitation and inequality. Don’t Network proposes a third option to technocratic biocapitalism and social movement horizontalism, an analysis of the ways in which vanguard politics and avant-garde aesthetics can today challenge the ideologies of the network society” (Publisher)

Includes a notable chapter that offers a critique of Richard Barbrook’s “Class Wargames”. Barbrook used Debord’s used Debord’s Le Jeu de la Guerre (The Game of War) to re-enact and re-think questions of historical and actual class strategy. He went on to publish a book on the subject, and maintains a website at https://www.classwargames.net/. A few copies of Debord’s The Game of War can still be obtained from Atlas Press (https://atlaspress.co.uk/product/alice-becker-ho-guy-debord-a-game-of-war/)

Leger’s book can be accessed in PDF here: https://www.minorcompositions.info/?p=872