In conjunction with Against Cinema: Situationist Film and Its Legacy, an exhibition which seeks to retrace the history and legacy of Situationist film, we’ll be showing two movies Call it Sleep by Isaac Cronin and Terrel Seltzer and And The War Has Only Just Begun by Tiqqun with an introduction by Isaac Cronin at Pro Arts Gallery and COMMONS on Thursday, September 19 at 7 PM. The door opens at 6:30 PM.
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About Call it Sleep
A global, strategic evaluation of the social forces comprising the society of the spectacle. It is conceived from the view that, if individuals are to gain control over their lives, the world of hierarchical power must be destroyed.
Call It Sleep is the first visual work produced in the United States which makes use of the situationist technique of detournement – the devaluation and reuse of present and past cultural production to form a superior theoretical and practical unity.
Call It Sleep is based on material drawn from the most prevalent means of social conditioning- television-for two reasons. Familiar images easily acquire a strong negative charge when linked with a subversive content. Using images and techniques available to everyone has demonstrated once and for all, that detournement is within reach of anyone with a few basic appliances and the ability to communicate radical ideas.
Some people who see Call It Sleep are only interested to know if copyright permissions have been obtained from the producers of the various images in the tape. These “courageous souls” think that a disrespect for cultural and social conventions should begin after property rights have been observed. No doubt many of these people have already produced or dream of producing an artifact which they want protected by the state.
Others want to discover what special techniques or tricks of the trade are behind Call It Sleep and they may be disappointed because no sophisticated technical expertise was involved. The singularity of Call It Sleep comes not from the novel use of equipment, but from the practical application of a radical perspective on daily life.
Call It Sleep was completed in May of 1982. It was financed solely by its makers.
“One can only empathise with individuals, motivated by a sincere desire for reform, who join ecology groups, consumer organisations and alternative political parties. In any of these groups these individuals are directed by a firmly entrenched leadership through a maze of politically motivated compromises to an end that is sadly predictable: the indefinite postponement of profound social transformation, the enrichment of the careers of a few bureaucrats and the permanent disillusion of a number of intelligent individuals.”
About And The War Has Only Just Begun
“Once upon a time in Paris, there was a short-lived meeting place in the form of a journal called Tiqqun, which, in two volumes, published anonymous philosophical writings that combined resonances of Agamben, Benjamin, Foucault, Heidegger, and Schmitt. Then there was no more Tiqqun, or Tiqqun went on hiatus. Its dissolution, according to rumors, had something to do with 9/11 and disagreements over the way to proceed in its wake. Sometime after this, an anonymous video, And the War Has Only Just Begun . . ., dated 2001, circulated on the Internet. Over various still and moving images (burning twin towers, black-bloc rioters, anonymous metropolitans framed in a café window, eating alone), a voice addresses the “lost children” who have awoken from their “prescribed sleep” and ruminates on how “the Party” is to be built. In retrospect, the film seems a key intermediary, following on the heels of Tiqqunand prefiguring The Coming Insurrection, a book published in 2007 (as L’Insurrection qui vient) by La Fabrique, its authorship credited to something called the Invisible Committee. A certain similarity in tone between Tiqqun and The Coming Insurrection was obvious, the crucial transition perhaps summarized as one from theory to action: It was now time to build “the Party,” to gather those who had woken.”
About Isaac Cronin
Isaac Cronin is a social critic, troublemaker and translator. He is one of the early popularizers of Situationist theory in the United States, having co-founded the seminal group The Council for the Eruption of the Marvelous in Berkeley in January of 1970. He is the author, translator and editor of fifteen books. He co-wrote Chan Is Missing, a feature film directed by Wayne Wang, and wrote and co-produced Call It Sleep, a video that combined excerpts from Hollywood films and classic cinema, dramatic footage and still photos to analyze the social forces in contemporary society.
The Council for the Eruption, formed by six former students from UCSC, was the first Situationist influenced group outside of New York. They produced dozens of leaflets, pamphlets (many reprints of Situationist texts), posters and interventions focusing on the left’s ideology of self-renunciation, self-righteousness and stultifying bureaucratic organization.
The Council was heavily influenced by Dadaism and Surrealism and produced material filled with black humor and striking images. They created In The Void Trading Cards that ridiculed modern life’s stereotypes and emptiness. They often dressed “straight” like Seventh Day Adventists and handed out an existential critique of suburban life, “Is This Our Fate”, in a San Jose suburban community. They threw tomatoes and leafleted an appearance of Jean Luc Godard at the Berkeley Community Theater. They produced multiple counterfeits including one of the UCSC Chancellor’s Memo, and numerous copies of concert tickets including hundreds of free tickets to the Berkeley Jazz Festival they distributed in East Oakland. They subverted billboards with humorous slogans pointing to the emptiness of commodity consumption.
Cronin co-edited Bad: The Autobiography of James Carr with former fellow CEM member Dan Hammer whose sister had married Carr in 1971. Carr was murdered in his driveway in April of 1972 just as he completed tape interviews that became the basis of the book. Bad contains a critique of the Black Panthers and of the reactive criminal mentality as well as a harrowing account of life on the streets of South Central Los Angeles and in the California Prison System.
Cronin is currently writing and translating books that are published through an independent press in Berkeley, Little Black Cart. Recent titles include a selection of the writings of Jean Pierre Voyer, It’s Crazy How Many Things Don’t Exit, Guillaume Paoli’s Demotivational Training, and Cronin’s The Dictionary of Unhappiness.