During the time I was looking for a stylistic method to render my visual essays for Fluxion 4,
I heard about the large traveling retrospective exhibit on the Dada Movement.
It was a “Eureka!” moment.
Up to that point I was still unsure how to go forward with my ideas.
Dada was the answer.
The Dada movement (1916-1922) was a rejection of the prevailing standards in art through anti-art cultural works. Dada activities included public gatherings, demonstrations, and publication of art/literary journals; passionate coverage of art, politics, and culture were topics often discussed in a variety of media.
Dada freed me up to be spontaneous, and to just do the layouts rather tan spend any more time trying to showcase the set of ideas I had compiled.
Leah Dickerson on Dada:
“I feel very strongly that this was a watershed moment in art,” Dickerson says. “And I think that you can argue that Dada of all the avent garde movements has had the greatest impact on contemporary art. So every time you see things like collage or montage or assemblage, all of those things have their origins in Dada. And I think that if you want to understand where we are today, it’s really important to go back and look at where these things came from.”
featuring the work of LA artist and filmmaker Dennis Woodruff.
Based on what was happening in the world with the Iraq war, the (in my mind) criminal Bush regime getting re-elected, the ever advancing hegemony of the corporations, the rising tides of religious and neo-con fervor (READ: a new fascism) both in the US and around the world, Dada seemed like the perfect response.
“The beginnings of Dada were not the beginnings of an art, but of a disgust.”—Tristan Tzara
“Grafitti is a lot like Dada. It is the anti-art of the 21st Century.” —Make
I had agonized for three years on the slow pace of progress with the issue, and for once I was actually glad, as this approach seemed to tie the entire cultural criticism section together. It gave me a unified stylistic framework, and connected the current crises to so many similar ones fought in the past.
I really like linking ideas together… suggesting a tapestry of creativity that reflects and informs the culture and at it’s best guides it toward a better future.
I wanted to include Marshall McLuhan’s visionary ideas of The medium is the message and Global village. I wanted to put a slight spin on the former by suggesting it is time to “remix the message.” (I plan to produce a few more images with this line along the lines of the Che symbol I created for this issue.) Combining it with a Dada style felt like a relevant and interesting juxtaposition.
So much of what is pushed at us in the media have become a gross manipulation, we need to be more vigilant in critically dissecting those messages. Don’t miss McLuhan’s seminal work Understanding Media) and Chomsky’s Manufacturing Consent for more on this issue.
One last note on Dada….
Tristan Tzara, one of the architects of the Dada movement observed:
“Art is a private thing, the artist makes it for himself; a comprehensible work is the product of a journalist…. We need works that are strong, straight, precise, and forever beyond understanding.”
which Marcel Duchamp embodied perfectly—
Tzara also went on to say in the text of his Dada Manifesto:
“We have had enough of the intelligent movements that have stretched beyond measure our credulity in the benefits of science. What we want now is spontaneity. Not because it is better or more beautiful than anything else. But because everything that issues freely from ourselves, without the intervention of speculative ideas, represents us. We must intensify this quantity of life that readily spends itself in every quarter. Art is not the most precious manifestation of life. Art has not the celestial and universal value that people like to attribute to it. Life is far more interesting. Dada knows the correct measure that should be given to art: with subtle, perfidious methods, Dada introduces it into daily life. And vice versa. In art, Dada reduces everything to an initial simplicity, growing always more relative. It mingles its caprices with the chaotic wind of creation and the barbaric dances of savage tribes. It wants logic reduced to a personal minimum, while literature in its view should be primarily intended for the individual who makes it. Words have a weight of their own and lend themselves to abstract construction. The absurd has no terrors for me, for from a more exalted point of view everything in life seems absurd to me. Only the elasticity of our conventions creates a bond between disparate acts. The Beautiful and the True in art do not exist; what interests me is the intensity of a personality transposed directly, clearly into the work; the man and his vitality; the angle from which he regards the elements and in what manner he knows how to gather sensation, emotion, into a lacework of words and sentiments.”
Here are some other Dadaist highlights: