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Lettrist International

The Lettrist International (LI) was the first breakaway group from Isidore Isou's Lettrist Movement (LM}. They would be followed in turn by the Ultra-Lettrists. The LI was formed after the 'left-wing' of the LM disrupted a Charlie Chaplin press conference for Limelight at the Ritz Hotel, Paris, in October 1952.

During their wanderings in the Summer of 1953, an 'illiterate Kabyle' suggested to them the term Psychogeography. They published an information bulletin called Potlatch. One of their most important texts was Ivan Chtcheglov's Formula for a New Urbanism which was not published until 1958 in the first issue of the journal Situationniste Internationale. He advocated a new city where everyone would be able to live in their own cathedral. Theory utopianism was accompanied by the derive or drift, whereby they wander like clouds through the urban environment, producing something which they called unitary urbanism. In his Introduction to a Critique of Urban Geography (published in the Belgian surrealist magazine Les Levres Nues, No. 6, 1955) Guy Debord described a colleague wandering through the Harz region of Germany blindly following a map of London. This is still a favourite methodooly amongst psychogeographers. They produced a broad range of proposals: the abolition of museums and placing art in bars, keeping the Metro open all night, opening the roofs of Paris like pavements with escalators to help gain access.

They also developed detournement as a technique of reutilising previous material for a radical purpose.

On 28th July 1957 they fused with the International Movement For An Imaginist Bauhaus and the London Psychogeographical Association to form the Situationist International.

Those involved in the LI include:

The story of the Lettrists was documented in Greil Marcus' book "Lipstick Traces".

The New Lettrist International was founded more recently.

"Lettrism was conceived in Romania by Isidore Isou in 1942. He was only sixteen years old." -La Poesie Lettriste, Jean-Paul Curtay, Paris 1974

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