A report by Agentur, within the framework of the research project The Aesthetics of the Popular Fronts.
On February 12, 1934, tens of thousands of people took to the streets in Paris, to protest against the advances of fascism. A few days earlier, extreme right and royalist organisations had held a large manifestation in the city, which had deteriorated into deadly riots and an improvised coup attempt. The threat was real: European fascism was gathering its forces. At the same time, the opposition was hopelessly fragmented. Liberals, social democrats, and communists were set violently against each other. Would their separate demonstrations collide in new street fights, in evidence of the paralysis of the opposition?
In March of the same year, the author Marc Bernard published his account of the events of those days, The Workers’ Days of February 9 and 12. In this short book – the mythical and mythologizing foundational text of Popular Front literature – Bernard documents what happened then, in careful detail. The demonstrations did not collide, they were united into one. The opposition set their differences aside in favor of a united front against a common enemy. The French Popular Front was created, and its model soon spread to other countries and continents. A chapter was opened in the history of anti-fascist organization.
History Is Not Over (February 12, 1934) takes its cue from Bernard’s text, which is now for the first time published in Swedish translation. It is a text that poses questions to the present: Is it still possible to think unity in resistance as a political and aesthetic principle? Is there still a progressive tradition that we can draw upon, and that stretches back to the moment of the popular fronts? If so, what continuities can we invoke? What discontinuities must we assert? With readings, presentations, artistic contributions, and critical commentaries by Emily Fahlén, Jörgen Gassilewski, Martin Högström, Ingela Johansson, Emma Kihl, Samuel Richter, Kim West, and Ellen Wettmark, we invite to common reflection regarding a central event in the cultural history of anti-fascism.
History Is Not Over (February 12, 1934) initiates a series of reports produced by the independent research group Agentur, within the framework of the research project The Aesthetics of the Popular Fronts. The reports take the form of public events, arranged at different places and institutions in Sweden and abroad during the fall of 2020 and the spring of 2021; videos based on documentation of the events, directed by Agentur, and published on digital platforms; and printed publications, produced in collaboration with a number of Swedish and international publishing houses, platforms, and magazines.
The event History Is Not Over (February 12, 1934) – an evening with readings, presentations, critical commentaries, and discussions – takes place on Thursday September 17, 2020, 5–8 pm, at the art center Mint, located at the Workers’ Education Association (ABF), Sveavägen 41, Stockholm, Sweden. There is a very limited number of open seats for this event. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org (first come first served). Please note that the event will be documented on video. Language: Swedish. Welcome!
The video History Is Not Over (February 12, 1934), based on documentation of the event, as well as on specifically commissioned short films and presentations, will be published on October 15 at m-i-n-t.se and agentur.ooo. Tune in!
The publication History Is Not Over (February 12, 1934) will be published in the fall. The volume will contain Marc Bernard’s book in Swedish translation, together with essays and artworks based on the contributions to the event and the video. A joyful foray into the intellectual landscape of deep anachronism!
Thanks to Fabrique éditions, Stella Magliani-Belkacem, Michele Masucci, Benjamin Thorel, and our collaborating partners.
Image: Christoffer Paues, Trea nr 1 för folkfronterna, 2020.