aDAd-Justine Barratt

“Everyword that is sung here or spoken at the very least proclaims that this    humiliating period has not succeeded in gaining our respect!”.

In saying this Hugo Ball was referring specifically to the events of World war 1. In so doing however, he was also giving an insight into what from that day would become known as Dada, 
(the name being chosen by accident in a German-French dictionary meaning hobbyhorse,  implying a childlike quality expressing a primitiveness and a beginning at zero in terms of a new art). It was a lack of respect for the war and for a society capable of spawning such a war that became the motivating force behind the Dada movement.

Dada 6 (Bulletin Dada), ed. Tristan Tzara
(Paris, February 1920), cover.

For the dadaist’s the war was an outward manifestation of societies inherent rottenness, as well as a sure sign of a world on the brink of collapse. A world that in 1916 was exhibiting it’s final death throes. The Dadaist’s decided to welcome this collapse and the way that they saw it, anything that would precipitate it’s further decline was to be encouraged. “Disintegration right in the innermost process of creation”, (Hugo Ball).

As a result, the Dadaist’s went on the offensive against anything 
associated with society at the time. It’s bourgeois Victorian values which stood idle whilst the war raged. It’s language which had been used in a logical and sensible manner by statesmen of the day to try and justify the insanity, and sell the essentially illogical politics of the War to the people. And finally it’s Art and by association it’s artist’s . Particularly artists who knowingly professed ‘art for art’s sake’. Who, regardless of circumstances,wanted to go on producing what had been ‘noble and beautiful’in the past, and who were creating spurious and mendacious art,serving to gloss over the crimes of the present, thereby aidingand abetting the brutalization of mankind.

Kurt Schwitters (1887-1948), artist, graphic designer, typographer, set designer and poet from Hanover, Germany. In Berlin Schwiters started his own form of dadaism he called Merz, and from 1923-1932 published a magazine also called Merz which included his poems and art.


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