DaDa

TO THE PUBLIC
Before going down among you to pull out your decaying teeth, your running ears, your tongues full of sores,

    Before breaking your putrid bones,
    Before opening your cholera-infested belly and taking out for use as fertilizer

your too fatted liver, your ignoble spleen and your diabetic kidneys,

    Before tearing out your ugly sexual organ, incontinent and slimy,
    Before extinguishing your appetite for beauty, ecstasy, sugar, philosophy,

mathematical and poetic metaphysical pepper and cucumbers,

    Before disinfecting you with vitriol, cleansing you and shellacking

you with passion,

    Before all that,
    We shall take a big antiseptic bath,
    And we warn you
    We are murderers.

Manifesto signed by Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes and read by sev­en peo­ple at the demon­stra­tion at the Grand Palais des Champs Elys?es, Paris, 5 February 1920.

DaDa is my fa­vorite school or phi­los­o­phy or what­ev­er the hell you want to call it of art. I like pret­ty much every­thing I’ve ever seen that can be con­sid­ered DaDa. It fits my sense of hu­mor like a glove and its wry­ness and bit­ing satire of the world and of it­self al­so melds pret­ty much seam­less­ly with my own self-the­o­ry. Here is a good ar­ti­cle from the Artchive about DaDa and Surrealism.

A great re­source for DaDa on­line can be found at, you guessed it, DaDa Online. This site is most­ly fo­cused on European Dadaism, and much of it is in German. I def­i­nite­ly rec­om­mend check­ing out the var­i­ous texts it does have in English. I cribbed the above TO THE PUBLIC man­i­festo from there. You can al­so check out the University of Iowa’s International DaDa Archive.

Dada3_cover.jpgMarcel Duchamp’s Anemic Cinema re­mains my fa­vorite piece of DaDa cin­e­ma and he al­so has some quite droll art ob­jects called ready­mades. I’ve been fas­ci­nat­ed by the pho­togra­phy of Man Ray since I saw the pic­ture Le Violon d’Ingres. I re­cent­ly had the op­por­tu­ni­ty to read Louis Aragon’s The Adventures of Telemachus [dis­cussed here; ex­cerpt here] and I am quite anx­ious to read more DaDa stuff as his sto­ry was very en­joy­able. I’ve found it rather dif­fi­cult to come across a de­cent list­ing of DaDa writ­ings how­ev­er. I might have to do re­search the old-fash­ioned way.

Most of this was sparked by watch­ing Ren? Clair’s Entr’acte, which, though it seems on­ly cat­e­go­rized as a sur­re­al­ist film, strikes me as be­ing bet­ter clas­si­fied as DaDa. It is bark­ing laugh­ter fun­ny at sev­er­al points, com­plete­ly de­fies ex­pec­ta­tions at oth­ers and does some very ex­per­i­men­tal things with film tech­niques. It re­minds me a bit of La Course aux poitrines. The premise is that the film is an in­tro­duc­tion be­fore a bal­let and the en­ter­tain­ment dur­ing the ballet’s in­ter­mis­sion, hence Entr’acte. What we get is a kalei­do­scop­ic bal­let of a sorts, many shots of a danc­ing bal­le­ri­na from un­der her tu­tu are most def­i­nite­ly meant to en­tice, at least un­til the cam­era fi­nal­ly re­veals the dancer’s face as that of a rough beard­ed man with a be­atif­ic smile. Then we get a brief sto­ry of a man’s death and fu­ner­al, the hearse then leads the mourn­ers a mer­ry chase that ends with a ma­gi­cian emerg­ing from the cof­fin and mak­ing every­one, in­clud­ing him­self, dis­ap­pear. Then the ubiq­ui­tous FIN ap­pears which is burst through in slo-mo by [i think] Francis Picabia. Then a boot kicks him back through and the film is run in re­verse un­til the FIN is whole again. Then it ends for re­al.

With that kind of punch­line, how can you not love DaDa?

4 thoughts on “DaDa

  1. great lit­tle da­da in­tro there! i re­mem­ber that bal­let movie from art school. i was to­tal­ly cap­ti­vat­ed and loved it, though many of my class­mates were bored and/​or an­noyed by it. i def­i­nite­ly share your in­ter­est in da­da and sur­re­al­ism. vi­su­al­ly i’d cite Tanguy as a big hero, and i’m al­so al­ways fas­ci­nat­ed by de Chirico (not ful­ly a sur­re­al­ist but sur­re­al­ists loved him). and do you have that sur­re­al­ist love po­ems book that came out a cou­ple of years ago?

  2. Surrealist Love Poems? I’ve got­ta find this book! and I need to look up those guys too, I’ve heard the names [once, per­haps] but I don’t know much about ‘em.

    and thanks for the com­pli­ment, the de­sign is some­what based on your site and oblivio’s.

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