Five Dérives

A small selection of photographs from an expansive archive shot on medium format in April 2013. A transcultural exploration into the identity of five different European cities twinned with Coventry. Inter-railing between France, Italy, Austria, Germany and The Netherlands over a period of ten days and meandering through urban space in a similar style to the Situationists International who coined the concept of the dérive (translated ‘drift’).

In his publication ‘Theory of the Dérive’ (1956), Guy Debord states that  “the primarily urban character of the dérive, in its element in the great industrially transformed cities — those centres of possibilities and meanings — could be expressed in Marx’s phrase: “Men can see nothing around them that is not their own image; everything speaks to them of themselves. Their very landscape is alive.” Debord’s objective was to awaken the ‘drugged’ spectator through constructing a set of strategies to engage the public.

A dérive must be unplanned and guided by the aesthetic contours of the environment to create a brand-new, authentic experience. 100 images from the series were exhibited at The Herbert Art Gallery & Museum, Coventry, for Coventry Biennial of Contemporary Art, 2019: The Twin, alongside newly commissioned works Colour Mapping – Twin Cities by Manchester based artist Anna Columbine created in response to the photographs.

Caen, France
Bologna, Italy
Dresden, Germany
Graz, Austria
Arnhem, The Netherlands

Documentation of the installation at The Herbert courtesy of Marcin Sz.