Book Review: The Beach Beneath the Street – the Situationists

bkg_constant_babylon-1

This picture is of Constant Nieuwenhuys’s New Babylon project. Constant was a Dutch painter and artist who spent many years designing the utopian city of New Babylon. New Babylon is a raised megastructure, built over existing cities and landscapes. Mechanization would mean that people would have enough to eat and would move from being a Homo Faber (the working man, creative man) to being a Homo Ludens, (playing man), an existence devoted to play and spiritual growth. I have always been fascinated by the beautiful, slightly sinister models and drawings he made for this project.
Constant was associated with the Situationists, a group of left-wing writers and radicals loosely organized around the philosopher Guy Debord. (Who wrote “The Society of the Spectacle”).
The photo links through to a book review on a book on the Situationist International written by McKenzie Wark called “The Beach Beneath the Street”. The title refers to a protest slogan of Paris 1968, “Sous les pavés, la plage”. Enjoy.

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About thomaswensing

Architect and Activist. Over the years I have become increasingly aware that I need to actively engage with the issues I care about. My passions and irritations are many and change often, but a red thread is always a deep concern over the fact that capitalism does not work as it is claimed it does, democracies only serve the needs of the few and environmental resource depletion and pressures continue to mount. I think it is time for citizen's activism to create pressure, to bang on the doors of established powers and interests until we get it right. As you will notice, if you continue to follow my blog over time, there are certain fetishes I have; modernism, social housing, the avant-garde. I propose to recuperate the Modern Project from the dustbin of history and re-establish the link between social engagement and architecture. Watch it all come down needs to be followed by let the good stuff blossom!

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