The Archives of Guy Debord, father of situationism, enter the BNF

Paris – The archives of Guy Debord, father of situationism and author of “The Society of the Spectacle,” joined the manuscript collections of the National Library of France (the BNF) thanks to funds provided by patrons.

Classified as a “national treasure” in January 2009, the archives of Guy Debord (1931-1994) include all the versions of his writings and films, his correspondence, his personal papers, press and editorial dossiers, notebooks and reader’s cards, and preparatory notes to his cinematographical works, as well as his photographical archives, personal effects and library, the BNF emphasized in a statement.

”We are delighted to welcome to the heritage collections a thinker whose theoretical and poetic works profoundly influenced the last half-century. The generosity of our patrons and the support of the Ministry of Culture has permitted us to make this exceptional acquisition today,” rejoiced Bruno Racine, President of the BNF.

These archives also include the work documents of the Situationist International, press clippings and publications of political or artistic avant-garde groups that were contemporaries of the author.[1]

In February 2010, the Ministry of Culture published in the J.O. an “advisory appeal to patrons of industry concerning 1,080,000 Euros” so that the BNF could acquire these archives, which were desired by Yale University in America, which submitted a request for export.

Created and placed in order by Guy Debord himself, “these archives, through their richness, diversity and quasi-exhaustiveness, testify to the work of the author and his insertion in the intense artistic and political activity of his era,” the BNF revealed.

A poet, filmmaker, and theoretician of society and power,[2] Guy Debord successively founded and animated the Lettrist International (1952-1957) and then the Situatuationist International (1957-1972).[3] His most celebrated work, “The Society of the Spectacle” (1967), is an intransigent critique of the modern conditions of existence engendered by capitalism.

(Written and published by the French Press Agency on 23 February 2011. Translated by NOT BORED! on 2 March 2011. All footnotes by the translator.)

[1] This is the first news we’ve heard that Debord’s personal archives also includes materials that were either produced in collaboration with others or entirety produced by others. At the very least, this fact raises questions about the ultimate beneficiary of these transactions (conspicuously unmentioned by this article) and if she (Alice Becker-Ho, aka “Alice Debord”) was kind enough to share some of the proceeds with those unspecified “political or artistic avant-garde groups” or the other members of the Sitautionist International, or if she keep it all for herself.

[2] This elides the facts that he worked for the overthrow of contemporary society and the abolition of all separate power.

[3] This phrasing suggests he did all this by himself.

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