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?

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