Guy Debord

The Naked City, 1957

The Naked City was initially meant to be exhibited alongside four other psychogeographical maps of Paris in the Taptoe Gallery in Brussels in 1957. In evoking the first ‘metagraphs’ (métagraphies) produced by Debord a few years earlier, this map is the result of appropriation, a seminal “propaganda method” used by the Lettrists and then the Situationnists” based on fragments cut out maps in a Guide Taride of Paris, the map borrows its title from the eponymous film made by Jules Dassin in 1948, itself titled in reference to the book by the photographer Weegee devoted to the streets of New York in 1945. Published in 1957 with the Psychogeographical Guide of Paris. Discourse on the Passions of Love by the MIBI (International Movement for an Imaginist Bauhaus) then, in the following year, in Asger Jorn’s book Pour la forme, The Naked City illustrated the central notion in psychogeography of “centres”, sorts of “crossroads” from which several psychogeographical slopes, symbolized by arrows, can be taken. Debord compared these nodes with the “illustrations, for books designed for very young schoolchildren, where a didactic intent brings together in a single image a port, a mountain, an isthmus, a forest, a river, a dyke, a cape, a bridge, a ship, and archipelago”. In March 1956, during a wander, the Lettrist had identified the Rotonde de la Villette as a “crossroad” between the psychogeographical slopes of the Saint-Martin Canal, the Boulevard de la Chapelle, the Rue d’Aubervilliers and the Canal de l’Ourcq. Among the crossroads depicted on the map, we can recognize in particular the Luxembourg Gardens; the thoroughfare between the Palais-Royal in the north and the Place de l’Institut in the south, with the Palais du Louvre as the centre; the neighbourhood of the Church of Saint-Merri; the Rue de Seine; the Boulevard Saint-Germain; the Rue Mazarine…

Gilles Rion

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