Potlatch, Psychogeography, Dérive and Détourement

Ford, S. (2005) ‘Potlatch, Psychogeography, Dérive and Détourement’, in The Situationist International: A User’s Guide. London: Black Dog Publishing, pp. 33-37.

This reading examines the different relationships that individuals have with sites. It states three main areas Psychogeography,Dérives, Détourement. It is claimed within the journal that these terms were discovered based on the act of Urban Living.

Psychogeography involves the relationships that individuals have with space, in terms of memory and claim on the place in which you are currently inhabiting, this can be a journey. This is addressed by the act of a Dérive which describes the intentional act of loosing yourself in a space in order to discover it and understand it from multiple perspectives. Finally the term  Détourement pays reference to the idea of using the everyday acts within a space to create artistic content.

Critical Analysis

This reading is useful with regards to our own project as it presents the individuals influence on site and relationship to it. The concept that each person has a different interpretation of a space and different stories to tell is something that is prevalent to our project. We want individuals to explore their own experiences of the project through and the area through a silent walk and individual reflections on their own walk. Because of my interest in the idea that individuals can affect site I found a further reading that addresses the concept of Psychogeography. (Find the link below)


An interesting element of this reading is the distinguishing between the term space and place. Place referring to the geography of the area and Space referring to human attachment to a place. This concept has been explore by multiple practitioners below is a series of point regarding a reading that I have previously studied by Lucy Lippard;

Place in connection to belonging (interesting as theatre communities offer a place in which people belong)

  • Cultural connections to place.
  • Places defined by memory (when does a place stop being a place when nobody can recall the memories associated with the place in question?)
  • Can the importance/significance of a place be diminished in modern day life? What happens when dictated history is not enough to place the importance of a place?
  • Preservation of cultures crucial to questions about the relationships between the people and the land.
  • Land having connections to the emotional and Aesthetic.
  • Land giving us identities
  • Land marks out in place in order to bring us back to ourselves and give ourselves identity
  • Art practice that reveals meaning to a place for those who live there
  • Reinstate the mythical and cultural experiences in order for the public to witness
  • Post-Modernism
  • The difference between using a place for main stream Art and telling a story of the place for all the public to see.

Critical Analysis

In relation to our own project this issue of what the difference between place and space is and what can and should be performed in the public is important. Because our project is presented by people who are not from the area we don’t want to appropriate the area and create a piece of art that is just performed in a public space instead we want to imbed it into the area as a result we have taken roles a facilitators as opposed to performers.


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