100 years of Dada: today is the centenary of Hugo Ball's Dada Manifesto

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2016/07/14/100-years-of-dada-today-is-th.html

Dada is a new tendency in art. One can tell this from the fact that until now nobody knew anything about it, and tomorrow everyone in Zurich will be talking about it. Dada comes from the dictionary. it is terribly simple. In French it means “hobby horse.” In German it means “good-by,” “Get off my back,” “Be seeing you sometime.” In Romanian: “Yes, indeed, you are right, that’s it. But of course, yes, definitely, right.” And so forth.


One hundred years later Duchamp’s “Fountain” seems like art history’s version of “Why did the chicken cross the road?” It’s a joke that still gets told, often with variations, to polite chuckles.


I think BoingBoing’s contribution works pretty well for a modern audience:


bad engelisch, sorry for blob…

the world as it is and was then, from the perspective of a thinking and understanding mind, must be dada. reading the front page of boingboing daily - or any news site or blog at all - makes you feel dada.
dada is not about art and poerty. dada is, and was, a movement. dada is about the terms, the words, repeated over and over and trying to define our mind and ourself - war, gun, money, status, love, nature, child, tree… it’s about distancing ourself from the insanity of the intelligible daily stream of words. dada is an expression about our mind when we have truly no words left for what state the world is in.

some people squatted spiegelgasse 1 in zurich (switzerland - land of flowing gold, cheese and chocolate) about 10 years ago. the building was empty, ready for total commercialization. we had a great month with many dadaists from around the world joining in. truly awesome, disillusioned, creative people.
we got kicked out. they wanted to rent to the highest bidder. some art people intervened: "it’s the birth place of dada!"
now there’s the ‘official dada-house’, sponsored by the city (cabaret voltaire). a historical site. an art place. arty people go there. that’s no movement.
newspapers in zurich celebrate 100 years of dada all year long. in small columns and common words. besides endless streams of common words that describe the events of our planet. do they?

happy 100 bingchang! wo we da do…


And does dada mean the same today as yesterday, as tomorrow? Does dada resonate with the same resonance?

Does the world make any more sense than it did when Ball wrote this manifesto? What’s since been it’s genealogy, it’s situation within our cultures? Has art become of the people or are the people only the backdrop for art?

Do I have any idea what I’m saying? Does it matter?



The coming weekend’s convention will be an apt and timely celebration.


Dada needed a manifesto like Hunter S. Thompson needed an editor.


Marie Osmond does Hugo Ball:

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