Claire Fontaine: Guy Debord is dead. He was a funny, tragic guy, but in our lifetime, we’ve only had the chance to see the effects of the Situationist religion, this purism and extreme moralism that doesn’t help to change anything at all. We needed to make fun of such a paradoxical position. But today, maybe it’s like shooting the ambulance.
AH: How do you see the relevance of the legacy of May ’68 in artmaking today and how does it inform (or misinform) your work?
CF: The art legacy of ’68 is very poor. We generally hate commemorations, and the conventional habit of enforcing this punctual obligation to remember what happened in ’68 neutralizes the real influences of those events, ones that continue to run though our bodies and our society today. Sixty-eight is an idea, a deformed fantasy about inconsequent freedom, about rebellion without retaliations: a very unrealistic constellation of projections. Revolutionary families rarely leave a fortune to their kids, who often have to work harder than their parents. Rebellious parents very often sacrifice the childhood of their sons and daughters in order to prolong their own well into adulthood. All the problems coming from an unachieved revolution and all the identities forged by hopes that just disappeared are never mentioned. It’s interesting to see how people dealt with the eclipse of that infantile idea of liberation after ’68. If you prefer, feminism, refusal of work, refusal of the identity imposed by the state and the family are all themes that inform our work and come from the Italy of ’77 and the Italy of that decade in general. We consider what happened in the ’70s more important, more radical, more precise. But of course these events wouldn’t have been possible without ’68.
Claire Fontaine, La société du spectacle brickbat, 2006