1980s Bay Area Activities and Interventions Inspired by the Situationists

Presentation by Howard Besser

View Howard’s entire PowerPoint presentation, HERE.

Bay Area art and politics was substantially influenced by the Situationists in the 1980s. Perhaps a dozen groups claimed to be “pro-situ,” and dozens more employed Situationist techniques such as détournement, or warned about the process of recuperation and the construct of the spectacle. Groups altered commercial billboards, put out fake press releases that exposed underlying political agendas, engaged in street theater, and wrote lengthy political analyses contextualizing current events and political figures as part of Capital and The Spectacle.

In this presentation, Howard Besser will discuss what the scene was like with so many different groups actively employing situationist techniques and theories. He will explain and show examples of some of the more creative activities of this time period.

Howard Besser has been involved in Anarchist and Situationist activities since the late 1960s, primarily in the Bay Area. His day job is a college professor.

Pro Arts’ The New Situationists project is made possible with a generous grant from The Phyllis C. Wattis Foundation.