Robert Montgomery and Post-Situationalism

Robert Montgomery’s work has been appearing on a couple of my favorite design blogs, lately, so I wanted to take a minute to acknowledge it and address his post-situationalist point of view.

Montgomery is best known for creating billboard installations with poetic statements that urge us to re-consider our most fundamental beliefs and values.

He currently has a citywide exhibition in Berlin, called Echos of Voices in High Places, featuring a few pieces of poetry that I just love.  If one of the attributes of great art is to halt our ongoing stream of thoughts and force us to question ourselves, Montgomery is a genius.

His work becomes even more interesting when you look at the Situationalist movement that he ascribes to.  Founded by a group of mainly European-based revolutionaries, active throughout the 50’s and 60’s; their beliefs are rooted in Marxism, specifically ascribing to the fact that capitalism is a destructive force that paves the way towards blind consumerism and a meaningless existence.

To combat this, Situationalists constructed “situations” that strived to make people question their lives and the merit of their beliefs and pursuits – not unlike the desired effect of Montgomery’s work.  They did this through art, film, literature and the like, often running parallel to the avant-garde movement of the day.  The Situationalists, however, rejected all art that separated itself from politics and current events, arguing that such efforts “sterilized” their work, while making it acceptable to the “official culture” of the age.

Regardless of your beliefs, Montgomery’s words are beautiful and, at times, shocking.  I suspect his predecessors would be proud.

[image1 from Echos of Voices in High Towers via Cool Hunting]

[image2 from robertmontgomery.org]

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