barbie detournementThe concept of détournement has been part of our culture for almost 100 years, having its roots in the Dada art movement of the 1920s. While most people are likely not familiar with the word détournement, almost anyone who has seen the cover of a punk album or an underground cartoon has been exposed to this technique.  Find out what it is and how far it strays into the realms of plagiarism.

Détournement is basically a variation on a previous work of art that expresses a meaning opposite to that of the original. Also known as “turnabout” and “derailment,” détournement is the French word coined by Guy Debord and the Situationist International revolutionaries of the 1960s. The technique, however, was created in the 1950s by the Letterist International, a collective of radical artists and theorists. According to the Letterists, the intention was to turn “expressions of the capitalist system and its media culture against itself.” For example, well-known logos and slogans would be reworked to denigrate the status quo. This technique was reborn during the punk movement of the late 1970s and the culture jamming movement of the 1980s.

An example of detournement - Pepsi
An example of detournement – Pepsi