Since the early 1950’s, the Lettrist International, and its successor, the Situationist International, had been engaged in, among other things, reimagining the city. In 1955, for example, the Lettrist newsletter, Potlach, featured a “Project for the Rational Beautification of Paris,” which included such propositions as arranging, with ladders and footbridges, a promenade along the roofs of the city; putting switches on lampposts so that lighting decisions could be made by the public; redistributing works of art currently held in museums among local bars; and turning churches into either romantic ruins or haunted houses. By 1978, in the bitterly elegiac narration of his last film, (Guy) Debord was moved to write, “we were, more than anybody, the people of change, in a changing time. The owners of society were obliged, in order to maintain their control, to desire a change that was the opposite of ours. We wanted to rebuild everything, and so did they, but in diametrically opposed ways. What they have done illustrates our project in negative form.”
Luc Sante, The Other Paris. 2015.