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Graphical Terrorism? Bazooka, Punk and Leftist Politics at Liberation Newspaper in 1970s France


DOI: 10.1093/hwj/dbs032

Warne, C. “Graphical Terrorism? Bazooka, Punk and Leftist Politics at Liberation Newspaper in 1970s France.” History Workshop Journal 76.1 (2013): 212–234. Web.

p.214: they evolved a clear collective ethos, sharing not just the studio but their lifestyle, by living communally and by signing all their work with both their various pseudonyms and the Bazooka signature. There are clear affinities here with 1968-influenced attempts to reformulate creative and artistic production along less individualistic and more collective lines, combined however with a sharp sense of the value of promotion and of establishing a brand so as to function effectively in the capitalist market. Through the production of their own fanzines, and through their various contributions to the media, they established a clear and recognizable group aesthetic and visual style: even without the Bazooka signature, their work can be instantly identified -- Highlighted mar 11, 2014

p.214: This is accompanied by fascination with the human body, but in an unnatural, rather cool, medicalized condition. It is dismembered, disarticulated and deformed, apparently as a result of its fusing or interaction with the technology. Finally, the overall peremptory tone of the textual fragments allies this work with the productions of state propaganda -- Highlighted mar 11, 2014

p.216: The final effect of these rather oxymoronic cut-and-paste combinations is ultimately diversionary and subversive. It conveys certain anxieties about the body in relation to technology, as well as a voyeuristic interest in the mechanical details of how that technology functions. -- Highlighted mar 11, 2014

p.221: As will become clear, the relationship between newspaper and artist ultimately took on aspects of the relationship between terrorist and target. It seems appropriate to describe the group as practising a form of graphical terrorism, whereby staff and journalists on the paper were held hostage, subjected to a series of destabilizing and unpredictable actions from their captors, which called into question the fundamental leftist basis of the newspaper, and raised doubts about the direction of post-1968 leftist politics in general. -- Highlighted mar 11, 2014

p.226: Further journalistic taboos central to the paper’s identity were challenged when the group began doctoring photographs carried by the paper. Again, one of the foundational aspirations of the paper had been that it would use photography as part of the struggle to present a more transparent picture of social realities in France. The group used two distinctive methods in such cases. One was to change the intended caption that ‘explained’ the contents of the picture to the readership, thus challenging the capacity of the image to tell its own story and hijacking its message for very different purposes. The second method was to interfere with the image itself, making use of developing techniques to obscure what was on view, and tagging the image with a series of slogans or signatures that claimed an unsettling ownership of the act of vandalism. -- Highlighted mar 11, 2014