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.
Marcel 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?