“A specter is haunting the world: the Situationist International.” It was with this allusion to the opening sentence of the Communist Manifesto that the Situationist International, the last international avant-garde movement of Western modernity, provocatively inscribed itself into future history. The Situationist International has left an imprint as radical as it is indelible on the worlds of ideas and forms. It fundamentally changed the understanding of the relationship between art, politics, and daily life in its instrumental and decisive role during the events of May 1968, and in its critique and détournement of forms of market spectacle. Art was its first target, and ever since, artists have continued to debate and struggle with this critical heritage.
In One.Two.Three, Vincent Meessen revisits a part of the history of this movement that has been ignored to date: the discovery, in the archives of the Belgian Situationist Raoul Vaneigem, of the lyrics to a protest song that the Congolese Situationist M’Belolo Ya M’Piku composed in May 1968. Working with M’Belolo and young female musicians in Kinshasa, Meessen has produced a new rendition of the song. The fragmented cinematographic display of the work offers a spatial translation of this collective arrangement of subjectivities.
The multicolored labyrinth of “Un Deux Trois” (One Two Three), the club that was once home to the world-famous OK Jazz orchestra led by Franco Luambo, a key figure of artistic modernity in Congo, offers the setting for a musical dérive. Against the background of Congolese rumba (a popular and hybrid genre par excellence), threatened vernacular architecture, and revolutionary rhetorics of the past, the film puts to music the narrative of unexpected meetings. Transformed into an experimental space by musicians who, in the course of their perambulations, try to get attuned to one another, the club becomes an echo chamber for the impasses of history and the unfinished promises of revolutionary theory.
The video Wild Architect (1936–2016) takes the form of a letter recently written by an anonymous informer to a contemporary artist doing research on the aborted project of an experimental city called Utopolis that the Situationist International in the early 1960s drew up plans to build on a remote island. Mainly comprised of photographic archives and some cinematographic sequences, the majority of which have never been seen before and which date from the mid- 1930s, this enigmatic document probes a labyrinthine space at the heart of the most famous modern architecture archive: the Le Corbusier Archive. Asger Jorn, once an assistant to Le Corbusier, later one of the artists most critical of functionalism and a founder of the Situationist International, is at the center of this document and acts as a possible guide in making sense today of this invisible archive.
With the collaboration of