The following transcription served as the preface to the Situationister 1957-70 anthology. It was published by Bauhaus Situationniste in 1971.
Europe's First Avant-Garde

Patrick O'Brien and Ambrosius Fjord [Thorsen and Nash]

No avant-garde group in Europe in the 1960's have been so early, so radical, so productive and so inclusive as the Situationists from the Second Situationist International.

In fact they were the avant-garde not only for what now with a mondeaneous expression is called the youth revolution, but in creating a whole new aspect on creativity thus establishing a broad spectrum of new possibilities which not even at this moment are fully explored.

They were Provos long before Provo. In his book on Provo the Dutch author Simon Vinkenoog tells that the Provo origins in its ideas from the former Situationist Constant Niewenhuis. In his book on the French Mai Revolution, Jacques Landsmann in the same way states that Provo was founded by a former Situationist Jean-Louis Breau tells that Provo originates from and excluded Situationists.

The Situationists from the Second Situationist International initiated cultural revolt back in 1961 whey they started revolts and manifestations against the consumerist society and its branches, Urbanism and Authoritarian organisation in Art. They did this often in open conflict with police and authorities and they have received a series of fines and other punishments for this. Famous cases are the SPUR case, the Little Mermaid case and the cases for illegal occupations and detournation of the streets of Copenhagen.

Through for instance the CO-RITUS-experiments they tried to include the audience in the creative process and to erect alternatives to the mondeaneous American domination of art life in the sixties through semi official events like happenings pop-art etc.

No avant-garde group in the sixties have been so active internationally as these Situationists. Their activities have included actions in all Scandanavia, in Holland, Belgium, Germany, Italy, France, etc. Besides arranging 14 international conferences and illegal actions galore they have published more than 15 major books on their own publishing house, arranged 5 avant-garde film festivals, sent out more than 200 catalogues, pamphlets etc., more than 25 posters, 29 experimental films, 5 periodicals, street manifestations galore, participted in more than 200 exhibitions and besides maintained the collective centre Bauhaus Situationiste, Drakabygget.

The Situationiste Bauhaus, placed on the farm Drakabygget in Southern Sweden, has given workplace to such groups as the German group SPUR, the Mexican Situationist Group, the American St Leger-Joynes-group, the group from the Danish Orestad Experimental Laboratory, the Swedish KRW-group, The Italian Gruppo Settanta, the Dutch provos in exile, the International Overground Movement, and personalities such as Lufti Ozkok, Jesper Solling, Asger Jorn, Mette Aare, Helmut Sturm, Heimrad Prem, Ansgar Elde, Dieter Kunzelmann, Guy Atkins, Hans Peter Zimmer, Ambrosius Fjord, Patric O'Brien, Christoffer von Kremer, Roberto Manquori, Yoshio Nakajima, Niels Holt, Bengt Rooke, Attila Kotanyi, Bjorn Rosendahl, Hardy Strid, Peter Lindell, Liz Zwick, Jorgen Leth, Ole John, John Tehical, Allan Nordmark, J.V.Martin, Dennis Kleis, Per Walhoo, Tom Kronjer, St.Leger-Joynes, Novi Maruni, Finn von Eyben, Jacqueline de Jong, Ole Grunbaum, Staffan Larsson, Claus Hielborg, Bengt Ericsson, Runo de Turi, Bamber Gosling, Gordon Fazakerley, Roger de Monenstrol, Antonio de las Gambas etc, etc,.

In his book "Cours Cammerade..." Jean-Louis Breau correctly places the Situationists as initiators of the student-revolution, together with the Japanese Zengakurren and the so-called Free Speech Movement of Berkeley, California.

Situationists stood behind the first European student revolt, the one in the University of Strasbourg 1966. But the Strasbourg Situationists were excluded by the little French Situationist Group around the French Situationist General de Bord (to which they never wanted to belong).

It seems unknown to Mr Breau that the Second Situationist International initiated phenomenons as partial conquests of the town (communicative urbanism) the praxis of "Ateliers Populaires" and the demand of direct creative subversive activity almost three quarters of a decade before the events of Mai in France.

In contrast to these experiments the Bordists in Paris stressed the theory line. The long line of exclusions was exclusions of people and groups who almost did not want any adherence at all to the centralist French dictatorship from general de Bord. The Second Situationist International stressed the free participation and stated that any group could work along Situationist lines and that question of adherence to the movement only was the question of co-working. And they could not stop laughing of the military appeal amongst the Bordist when he tried to let J.V.Martin establish the IS "Region Nord".

In contrast to the Bordist who stressed theory, the Second International Situationists stressed the value of direct action and co-operation through mutual action, and exactly this was the reason for the schism in the Situationist Movement in 1962.

In Italy the Situationists from the Second started the action against the big multi-national Biennale and through this they started off the new Italian revolution through co-operation between workers, students and creative artists.

In Germany the co-operation with the Situationist group SPUR is well documented through the SPUR magazine and the never finished collective film "Aus WestDeutschland Nichts Neus" shot in sept-oct 1962. At the action for conquering the inner town of Copenhagen 1962 participated amongst others the SPUR-man Diter Kunzelmann, an outstanding Situationist. He was later co-founder of the Commune Einz in Berlin, one of the originating points of the German student revolt, but later in a certain contradiction to the SDS.

For France Breau and Landsmann seems to give a certain but in some cases limited documentation and at least the orientation is very chauvenistic.

So the Situationists, both the French and the big Second Situationist International, seem very clearly to be one of the central originating groups in the generation of revolt, though the Situationists from the Second International differs from the Situationists of the First through their stress on activities rather than theories, anarchic openness rather than authoritative centralised leadership, and humour rather than seriousness.

But the real task of the Situationists from the Second is not only to have carried and transformed creativity from the traditional formal and theoretic experience into a social experiment.

To us this is secondary to the anarchist anti-political power in their actions. For instance through a complete new use of mass media (for instance through the anti-happening "The New Little Mermaid"). And their use of the street, the situation for experiments with a new way of creative life. And through the mutual process of creativity in the CO-RITUS. Through this the Second Situationist International have formed the first basic contribution in the 20th century to the traditions from Courbet, Proudhon, Sainte-Beauve, Gaugin etc...

We ourselves have chosen to let mass media tell the story and to do the documentation of this unique work. So nearly everything in this book are cuts and reprints from various papers and periodicals. We are grateful to Mr Jens Jorgen Thorsen and Mr Jorgen Nash for doing the Lay-Out so that the contents can be brought to the same vital level as their actions.

Ambrosius Fjord - Patric O'Brien