Jorn’s ‘Defigurations’ (normally pronounced in the French based on the origin of the word), are deeply rooted in the concept of Détournement, a mechanism central to the thesis of the Situationist International and also Lettrism. The concept of Détournement (also the Dérivé) is as follows:
"… detournement of pre-existing aesthetic elements. The integration of past or present artistic production into a superior construction of a milieu. In this sense there can be no Situationist painting or music, but only a Situationist use of these means."
-Internationale Situationiste issue 1, June 1958.
The concept of ‘defiguring’ or ‘defacing’ existing cultural constructs is clearly here a political act - and clearly one that is irreverant in nature. This is perhaps the essential (most important) fingerprint of the SI and Lettrism in general - a growing dissatisfaction with and dissent agaist established structures of authority - a sentiment that was continuous with the May 1968 riots in Paris. That is to say - that the SI was a seed that, short of fomenting cultural revolution - most certainly supported it and gave it structure.
Jorn’s defiguration paintings, both skilled in execution and surprisingly witty, both forge new formal/political territory and are lithely subtle with respect to their cultural referents.This is especially true in the context of the 'baseness' of the gesture itself upon first gaze. “
Ainsi on s’ ensor, 1962 by Asger Jorn