The Situationists were a loose movement founded in the late 1950s by a group of Western European artists, theorists and political radicals. The group rejected orthodox leftwing politics and political activities in favour of direct intervention into the symbolic order of advanced capitalism and rejected concepts such as individual authorship and copyright. One of their best known tactics was that of the détournement, which involved turning the logic of capitalism against itself in manners that illustrated its inadequacies. This approach manifested itself in various ways, such as re-utilising and/or altering public images by graffiti or staging disruptive performances in public spaces without announcement or explanation.
In the case of Britain, one of the best know examples of the latter approach took place at Harrods, London’s celebrated upmarket department store, in December 1967. A group of radical students dressed up in Father Christmas outfits and went into the toy department and started giving toys away to children as presents (thereby embodying the rhetorical ‘spirit of Christmas’). Their action prompted security staff to intervene, scuffling with the Santas as they attempted to stop and detain them, causing stress and consternation amongst the parents and children present.
Found in CHART MYTHOS The JAMs’ and The KLF’s Invocation of Mu
by Jon Fitzgerald and Philip Hayward (Shima , 2016).
Image source: NOT BORED