9 Dada’s Africa bouzdouc zdouc nfoùnfa mbaah nfoùnfa. (Tzara 1975: 87) Black and white A photograph by Man Ray taken in 1921 and titled Black and White, reproduced in 1924 on the cover of Picabia’s journal 391, juxtaposes on a patterned African textile a wooden Baule male ancestor figure from Côte d’Ivoire with a bronze Art Nouveau statuette of a female nude (figure 9.1). They face each other, the African male figure in profile, the European female figure turned threequarters to the camera. They are wearing similar helmet-shaped headdresses. The female figure
Dada bodies focuses critical attention on Dada’s limit-forms of the human image from an international and interdisciplinary perspective, in its different centres (Zurich, Berlin, Cologne, Hanover, Paris and New York) and diverse media (art, literature, performance, photography and film). Iconoclastic or grotesque, a montage of disparate elements or reduced to a fragment, machine-part or blob, Dada’s bodily images are confronted here as fictional constructs rather than mimetic integrated unities. They act as both a reflection of, and a reflection on, the disjunctive, dehumanised society of wartime and post-war Europe, whilst also proposing a blueprint of a future, possible body. Through detailed analysis of works by Max Ernst, Francis Picabia, Hannah Höch, Marcel Duchamp and others, informed by recent theoretical and critical perspectives, the work offers a reassessment of the movement, arguing that Dada occupies an ambivalent space, between the battlefield (in the satirical exposure of the lies of an ideology that sought to clothe the corpse of wartime Europe) and the fairground (in the playful manipulation of the body and its joyful renewal through laughter, dream and dance).
2 Zurich Dada: between gas mask and carnival dance Was wir zelebrieren ist eine Buffonade und eine Totenmesse zugleich. Hugo Ball (1996: 56)1 The European avant-garde and the First World War: from utopia to dystopia ‘We intend to glorify war – the only hygiene of the world’, declared the Italian poet Philippo Tommasso Marinetti in his ‘Founding and Manifesto of Futurism’, published in Paris on 20 February 1909 in Le Figaro (Rainey et al. 2009: 51). His statement epitomises the position of many of the avant-garde writers and artists of pre-1914 Europe, who
4 La bomba-romanzo esplosivo, or Dada’s burning heart Dafydd Jones Dafydd Jones La bomba-romanzo esplosivo The received wisdom that Futurism was ‘the actual seedbed of Dada art’ is often enough repeated (Winter 1996: 141). Beyond the political, however, the complex problematic nature of the relation between Futurism and Dada is far less frequently addressed, and Dada’s aesthetic negotiation of anti-nationalist politics, for instance, is largely ignored. We know that in rejecting all cultural precedents the Dadaists implicitly rejected Futurism; and they
5 Futurist canons and the development of avant-garde historiography (Futurism– Expressionism–Dadaism) Maria Elena Versari Maria Elena Versari Futurist canons In 1921, Marc Bloch published an essay entitled ‘Reflections of an historian on the fake news under the war’, in which he justified his interest in that somewhat unusual subject: ‘Our ancestors did not quibble over these sorts of things, they rejected error, when they recognised it as such, and they were not concerned about its repercussions. That’s why the information they left us doesn’t allow us to
Maoism, Dadaism and Mao-Dadaism in 1960s and 1970s Italy Jacopo Galimberti The presence of a problem in society, the solution of which is conceivable only in poetic terms. A social command. Vladimir Mayakovsky, How are Verses Made? (1926)1 In February 1977, a group of far-left activists published the first issue of a fourpage fanzine entitled Finalmente il Cielo è Caduto sulla Terra: La Rivoluzione (The Sky has Finally Fallen to Earth: The Revolution) (Illustration 11.1). On the first page, the authors announced their project: launching a weekly magazine that
1 Introduction: spare parts Un pied un oeil le tout mélangé aux objets. Fernand Léger 1 Limit-bodies: an elusive corpus An assemblage of prosthetic limbs (figure 1.1); a spark plug with the words ‘FOREVER’ stamped on it (figure 1.2); a hybrid of African statue and European woman; a readymade object, tube or piston, eggbeater or hat; a blot, blob or blur. The Dadaists rejected mimetic representations of the human form: the body in Dada is displaced, deformed or dissolved, a mutating organic limb or an elusive limit-form of the human anatomy. In their paintings
The legendary poet and boxer Arthur Cravan, a fleeting figure on the periphery of early twentieth-century European avant-gardism, is frequently invoked as proto-Dada and Surrealist exemplar. Yet he remains an insubstantial phenomenon, not seen since 1918, clouded in drifting untruths. This study processes philosophical positions into a practical recovery – from nineteenth-century Nietzsche to twentieth-century Deleuze – with thoughts on subjectivity, metaphor, representation and multiplicity. From fresh readings and new approaches – of Cravan’s first published work as a manifesto of simulation; of contributors to his Paris review Maintenant as impostures for the Delaunays; of idle dissipation in New York as a Duchampian readymade; and of the conjuring of Cravan in Picabia’s elegiac film Entr’acte – The fictions of Arthur Cravan concludes with the absent poet-boxer’s eventual casting off into a Surrealist legacy, and his becoming what metaphor is: a means to represent the world.
), reproduced in Gott mit uns, a portfolio of lithographs first shown at the Dada-Messe in 1920, with the caption ‘Le Triomphe des sciences exactes / Die Gesundbeter / German doctors fighting the blockade’ (figure 11.1). It depicts an army doctor, surrounded by a group of seated bestial-headed officers; the doctor is examining a rotting corpse with an ear-trumpet and declaring it kriegsverwendungsfähig or fit for war service. Abbreviated to KV in a speech-bubble, it can also suggest kadavergehorsam or the obedience of a corpse, a tellingly sarcastic term used widely by the
8 Fluid bodies, shifting identities We want to bring forward a new kind of human being, one whose contemporaries we could wish to be, free from the tyranny of rationality, of banality, of generals, fatherlands, nations, art-dealers, microbes, residence permits and the past. Hans Richter (1965) L’IDENTITE SERA CONVULSIVE OU NE SERA PAS. Max Ernst (1970: 269)1 In his hallucinatory account of an evening at the Cabaret Dada in Berlin in 1919, ‘Ein Besuch im Cabaret Dada’, Richard Huelsenbeck (1920c: 7–9) evokes the constantly shifting identity of the performers. A