What is… detournement?

4th Voice

Detournement is a french word that can be loosely translated into re-route or hijack. It’s a concept first developed by the Letterist international in the 50s and then further used by the break-off group, the Situationist international in the subsequent decades. It had a big influence on the May 68 uprising and other similar glimpses of change. It has also sprung similar movements and ideas like ad-busting and culture jamming.

Originally defined in the inaugural 1958 Situationist International’s journal as “the integration of present or past artistic productions into a superior construction of a milieu. In this sense there can be no situationist painting or music, but only a situationist use of those means. In a more elementary sense, détournement within the old cultural spheres is a method of propaganda, a method which reveals the wearing out and loss of importance of those spheres.”

It is in similar vain to satire…

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