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

Times Literary Supplement 3262 [1964]

BERNSTEIN, Michèle. “The Situationist International” (in Times Literary Supplement 3262). London: TLS, 3 September 1964. 60 p. (numbered 773-832); ill.; 29.5 x 43.5 cm.

NASH, Jorgen. “”Who are the Situationists” (in Times Literary Supplement 3262). London: TLS, 3 September 1964. 60 p. (numbered 773-832); ill.; 29.5 x 43.5 cm.

Second special issue of the Times Literary Supplement devoted to the Avant-Garde (“Any Advance? The Changing Guard 2”). It follows an earlier issue on the topic (3258), which was published on August 6, 1964. Contains two important articles by SI members: “About the Situationist International” by Michele Bernstein (p.781) and “Who are the Situationists?” by Jorgen Nash (p.782-83). A brief poem entitled “,ruler. the armies”, the work of little-know SI member Armando, is also featured (p.820). Finally, Some lettrist texts are included, such as Isidore Isou’s “The Creation of Lettrism” (p.796-97) and a poem by Francois Dufrene (p.819)

In a letter to Alexander Trocchi dated 12 October 1964, Debord complains about the translation of Michele Bernstein’s article: “As you might have guessed, our article in the September issue of the Times Literary Supplement was poorly translated. The editors missed out on two or three critical points” (see Correspondance Volume 2, pp.299-300). The last two sentences of Bernstein’s article are reproduced in Internationale Situationniste 10, p.83, in March 1966

Bernstein and Nash’s articles have been reproduced in An Endless Adventure…An Endless Passion…An Endless Banquet…A Situationist scrapbook (ICA/Verso, 1989). Bernstein’s text is available online at https://www.cddc.vt.edu/sionline/si/times.html

Gonzalvez 232. Raspaud & Voyer 117. Trespeuch 31

Maurice Wyckaert @ Taptoe + Original Ink Drawing [1956]

[WYCKAERT, Maurice; RAINE, Jean]. [Une liberté qui dure]. n.p. [Brussels]: n.p. [Taptoe], n.d. [1956]. n.p. [8 p.]; ill.; 20 x 20 cm.; ill wrappers with a lithograph from the artist.

Scarce catalogue of Maurice Wyckaert’s exhibition at Galerie Taptoe in Brussels between 3 March and 15 March 1956. Includes an article (“Une liberté qui dure”) and a poem (“douceur operatoire”) by by Jean Raine, and a poem Marie Storck (“Du fond des âges, déjà …”). 4 illustrations by Wyckaert (including the front wrapper). Our copy is augmented with an original ink drawing by Wyckaert. L’Oeuvre Peint, p. 574.

We locate a single OCLC copy at Yale University’s Beinecke Library.

J.V. Martin [2010]

MARTIN, J.V. J.V. Martin. [Randers]: Cykelbørsen Randers, 2010. n.p. [ca. 162 p.]; ill.; 21 x 30 cm.; black cover with text in white

“In 1986, J.V. Martin wrote a manuscript which was intended to be published in connection with a retrospective exhibition at the Randers Museum of Art. For various reason, it never came out. This is now being remedied” (press release, inserted loosely inside this volume — translation is ours). The facsimile version of the manuscript was published on the occasion of the exhibition “Storadmiralen går i land” (The Grand Admiral goes ashore”), held at Galleri Cykelbørsen in Randers in 2010. The original copy resides at the Randers Local Historical Archive. Excerpts had previously been published in 2007.

The mansuscript reads like a journey through Martin’s most significant artistic period, starting in the late 1950s and with a focus on the S.I. years. One reads about the Situationist International, the Little Mermaid scandal, the RSG-6 exhibition, the firebombing of Martin’s own apartment, and more.

We locate 2 copies on OCLC, both in Demark.

Caspari – unpublished manuscript on Maurice Wyckaert [ca. 1960].

[WYCKAERT, Maurice]. CASPARI, C[laus]. [Untitled manuscript] L’image est aussi vieille que l’homme…ca. 1960. 6 p.; 21 x 27.5 cm.; black ink on thin white stock; annotations in blue ink.

Unpublished, unreleased typed manuscript by art critic Claus Caspari about Maurice Wyckaert. Handwritten annotations by Caspari in blue ink.

Caspari also authored a short introduction to the catalog for Wyckaert’s exhibition at Galerie Van de Loo, held from March 23 to April 26, 1961 (this is the exhibition that led to Wyckaert’s exclusion from the S.I.); see here for more details. However, the text of that introduction is altogether different from the one here, which was likely written around 1960 or 61.

Guy Debord – letter to Constant [1960]

[DEBORD, Guy] CONSTANT (Nieuwenhuys). Copy of a typed letter to Debord dated 6 Juin 1960. 1 p.; 21 x 27 cm.; black ink on thin white stock.

Letter from Constant to Debord, where the Dutch architect expresses his disappointment with Debord’s decision to cancel the planned Situationist exhibition at the Stedelijk museum in Amsterdam (planned for May 1960, the exhibition would never take place due to a falling out with Museum Director Willem Sandberg). Constant then asks Debord whether he’s “willing to collaborate with [him] on the basis of the Amsterdam declaration, which was endorsed at the Munich conference”. He concludes by writing: “Given what remains of the S.I., the topic of my resignation of exclusion is ludicrous. Unitary urbanism will belong to those that will have done something with it. I am still counting on you. Yours truly, Constant.”

A copy of this letter was enclosed by Debord in his letter to Maurice Wycakert dated 22 June 1960. In that letter, Debord wites: “Ci-joint le dernier échange de correspondance entre Constant et moi. Le dernier, au sens fort du terme. J’avais pensé que les “erreurs” de Constant étaient toujours causées par son caractère bouillant, et son jugement lourdement unilatéral en bien des cas. Mais peut-être Asger avait-il raison, quelque peu, en parlant de provocation. Je m’étonne que l’idiotie de la proposition de collaboration qu’il m’a adressée, et l’insupportable ridicule du ton sur laquelle elle est faite – après tant de suspects déboires hollandais – aient pu échapper a un homme qui est tout de même intelligent; et que l’on pouvait croire très honnête” (Correspondance vol. 1, pp. 343-44). Translation follows: “Herewith the last exchange of correspondence between Constant and me. The last, in the strongest sense of the word. I had thought that Constant’s “mistakes” were always caused by his hot temper, and his heavily one-sided judgment in many cases. But perhaps Asger was somewhat right in speaking of provocation. I am astonished that the idiocy of the proposal for collaboration which he addressed to me, and the ridiculousness of the tone in which it is made – after so many suspicious Dutch setbacks – could have escaped a man who is after all intelligent; and one we once believed to be very honest “(Correspondance vol. 1, pp. 343-44). See here for more details.

DEBORD, Guy. Copy of a typed letter to Constant dated 21 Juin 1960. 3 p.; 21 x 27 cm.; black ink on thin white stock. Accounted for in Correspondance, Vol. I, pp. 340-42

Letter from Debord to Constant, in response to the Dutch architect’s June 6 letter. Debord tackles Constant’s points one by one. He also reaffirms his commutment to great idelogical discipline with the S.I., and rejects any “collaboration with uncontrolled elements”. He concludes with giving Constant the choice of what his relationship with the S.I. may look like moving forward.

Constant would be formally excluded from the SI soon thereafter.