samedi 21 février 2009

# FIGHT WITH TOOLS /// 1871 Paris' Commune

This article has a strong connexion with last one about the canyon street. As a matter of fact, Paris' Commune was one of the most important urban conflicts in European history. It stayed nowadays as a good example of people's revolution as it last for a too short time to create a disenchantment. People who theorised about this event are many (Marx, Lenin, Debord...)

During seventy two days of 1871’s spring, Paris city lived in secession from the National Assembly which just capitulated in war against the Prussians. Simultaneously the Commune defends itself against the national “versaillaise” army lead by Thiers and “play the game” of considering to exist for a long period. Thus is created a Central Comity whose representatives are originally from the working population.

As far as urbanism is concerned, Situationnists Guy Debord, Raoul Vaneigem and Attila Kotanyi, one century after the Commune was declared, considered that "it has been in Human History, the only production of a revolutionary urbanism" which assumes as a principle that no building is innocent. That is how the Vendome column was solemnly destroyed on may 16th. In fact this column was the symbol of the first Empire’s (Napoleon Bonaparte) authority and the Bourgeois’ power.

This urbanism can be thus said to substract the alienation zones within the city, which was called by Situationnist, positive holes. The Commune’s story illustrate quite clearly the dilemma which can appear with this operation. In fact, on may 24th, huge debates took place within the Central Comity to decide whether or not symbolic building should be destroyed before the national army win the conflict. That is how the City Hall, the Courthouse and the Tuilleries palace (which was never rebuilt since then) were burnt down but Notre Dame and the Louvre on the other hand stayed intact, because defended by artists collectives. Situationnist retrospectively judged that Paris’ cathedral has been saved because of “permanent aesthetic values belonging to museums’ spirit when other men legitimately wanted to access to expression this day by this destruction as a defiance to a society which was rejecting all their lives to silent.

For more information about this chapter of France's history click here.

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