Photo Friday: Paris, May 1968

20140808 [UneJeunesse]This week our Photo Friday comes from The Situationist International: John McCready Archive, and is an image of a famous poster used during the May 1968 riots in Paris. The caption “Une jeunesse que l’avenir inquiète trop souvent” translates loosely as “youth too often worried by the future”.

The Situationist International: John McCready Archive is a collection of books, leaflets, posters, tracts and various ephemera relating to the Situationist International (SI) – with special interest in the influence of the group in the UK. Many are first editions, and the vast majority are originals. Included in the archive are a number of books by Guy Debord and Asger Jorn, a board game “Mai ‘68”, a Sex Pistols lunch box, a small selection of clothes by Vivienne Westwood and Malcolm McLaren and much more.

The Situationist International (SI) were a notorious avant-garde group of European cultural and political dissidents who emerged in July 1957 with an intense desire to transform art and everyday life through the breakdown of traditional divisions between artists and consumers and the total integration on cultural production. In 1967, leading figure Guy Debord declared war on the emerging consumer society, labelling it the Society of the Spectacle in his iconic book of the same title.

The SI devised a variety of new techniques and activities – including détournement, psychogeography and the derive – which attempted to provoke individuals into actively engaging with both their own bodies and the environment around them by finding new ways of exploring the city. These experiments in behaviour advocated the construction of new situations and moments in time free from the increasing passiveness of Western capitalism. From 1962 the SI began to place more emphasis on their political ideology and Situationist ideas would go on to play an important role in the revolutionary Paris events of 1968. The SI was dissolved in 1972 but its influence on contemporary culture remains significant.

John McCready has written about popular music and popular culture since 1985. Formerly a postman, milkman, musician, Haçienda DJ and TV producer he continues to drift as a recuperative agent and spectacular collaborator. He is a key commentator on The Haçienda, Factory Records and Acid House and has written for the NME, The Face, Radio Times, Mojo and The Word magazine. John McCready put together the archive with a strong visual sense and rarely picked up pieces that were not design or graphically interesting – except if they had particular significance in the history.

A list of the collection is available on our webpages, and access is through the LJMU Archivist.

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