Debord’s claim that his film – “Hurlements en foveur de Sade (Howls for de Sade)” – represented a superseding of cinema discrépant paid off when the film was finally made and finally screened. It contained no images at all.
It was first unspooled at the Musee de l’Homme, on 30 June 1962; the plug was pulled after twenty minutes. Several members or the lettrist group quit in protest over Isou’s endorsement of the atrocity. A second screening, three months later, made it to the end thanks mostly to a guard or radical lettrists. In London, where Hurlrnents was first presented in 1957, at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, the program carried a warning: “OUTRAGE? The film… caused riots when shown in Paris. The Institute is screening this film in the belief that members should be given a chance to make up their own minds about it, though the Institute wishes to be understood that it cannot be held responsible for the indignation of members who attend.” The ICA couldn’t have sold more tickets with a sex film starring Princess Margaret.
The art historian Guy Atkins describes a 1960 ICA screening
when the lights went up there was an immediate babble or protest. People stood around and some made angry speeches. One man threatened to resign from the ICA unless the money for his ticket was refunded. Another complained that he and his wife had come all the way from Wimbledon and had paid for a babysitter, because neither of them wanted to miss the film. These protests were so odd that it was as if Guy Debord himself were present, in his role of Mephistopheles, hypnotizing these ordinary English people into making fools or themselves.
Atkins went on:
The noise from the lecture room was so loud that it reached the next audience, queuing on the stairs for the second house. Those who had just seen the film came out or the auditorium and tried to persuade their friends on the stairs to go home, instead or wasting their time and money. But the atmosphere was so charged with excitement that this well-intentioned advice had the opposite effect. The newcomers were all the more anxious to see the film, since nobody imagined that the show would be a complete blank!
Afterwards one realized that Debord’s use or emptiness and silence had played on the nerves or the spectators, finally causing then to let out “howls in favor of de Sade.”
Last week, Death Grips were a no-show for their official Lollapalooza after-show at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge and subsequently canceled performances at Lollapalooza and Osheaga, as well as headlining dates scheduled in Boston and New York City.
So, what happened? Promoters for Lollapalooza said the band “chose not to arrive in Chicago.” Though, as we’re beginning to learn, it seems the band’s decision had nothing to do with a missed flight or band member illness.
At Chicago’s Bottom Lounge, where the band was scheduled to perform Friday night, the sold-out crowd was treated to a looped recording of Death Grips music, and the stage backdrop was of a suicide note allegedly written to Death Grips.
In an interview with DNA Info, Bottom Lounge Marketing Director Erin O’Neal said Death Grips’ management told venue employees “that the stage set up and the Death Grips album being played ‘was the show.” In fact, as O’Neal noted, the drum set destroyed by fans upon the show’s cancellation wasn’t even owned by drummer Zach Hill, but was rather a child’s learning drum kit.
“It appears to us that despite having a signed contract, they never intended on performing last night and instead wanted to leave a room of disappointed fans,” O’Neal said.
As Greil Marcus puts it – “The slightest familiarity with the history of the avant-garde makes it obvious that nothing is easier than the provocation of a riot by a putative art statement. All you have to do is lead an audience to expect one thing, and then give it another…”