- If Dadaists willingly admitted the influence of authors like Nietzsche and Stirner, it was to better refute all that was rigid and denounce any belief in general ideas that left no place for play. To drive out such commonly shared generalities has, for a corollary, the need to defend what is different and exceptional. Dada is also situated in the continuum of Symbolist and post-Symbolist philosophers and writers, such as Jules de Gaultier, Rémy
de Gourmont, Marcel Schwob and Alfred Jarry, whose aim was individualism.
- What to think of a society in which the codes, values and words (the 'words of the tribe') led ultimately to the trenches, to the horrendous battlefields, to the front lines, to death, to the great brainwash? What to make of a society that mechanically drove its citizens under the wheels of the bloodiest of wars? To find meaning in life again, the need to invent new rules was deeply felt. Dada was that epiphany. Like the Futurists before them, the Dadaists said all that which was sacred and preserved and embedded in libraries and museums must be surpassed. Dadaists saw they should not abandon art to imitation, (which is a stage in the learning process), so as not to condemn it to repetition, monotony and disaster. Art must surprise, and to do so, it must continuously exile itself to the invention of new forms.
- So, at the beginning of the 20th century, the traditional forms of Art were judged to be passé while the general public was more and more amazed by technological wonders and scientific inventions. In 1912, standing in
front of a propeller at the Salon de la Locomotion Aérienne in Paris, Marcel Duchamp exclaimed to Fernand Léger and Brancusi: "This is the end of painting. Who could do better than this propeller? Tell me, can you do that?" Traditional representation, sculpture and painting, were they not found wanting by the invention of chrono-photography and the cinematograph? Isn’t it fascinating what the universe of X-rays adds to what is visible to the naked eye? And on the auditory level, don’t experimental phonetics draw attention to sounds, which are on this side of words? And these same words, don’t they reveal their ability to hide a psychological truth, up to then nearly unsuspected? And in that realm, especially, don’t word puns and witticisms sparkle with meanings to the attentive ear of a psychoanalyst? Isn't there an object of inquiry there, where before none had been noticed? If the artist wants to draw attention, doesn’t he need to take this into account? Doesn’t he have to touch the public differently? Bring his practice up to date and make it as enigmatic and surprising as if it were truth unveiled? "Very modern art," writes Max Jacob in his Art poétique (p. 18-19), "is already not so, when the artist who makes it begins to understand it, when those who could understand it begin to not want to understand it, and when those that have understood it want an art that they can’t yet understand."
- TEXT CREDITS
Marc Décimo, 'Game', translated from the French text, published in the catalogue Dada (Editions du Centre Pompidou : Paris 2005) . The translation was part of the Press Pack, published by MNAM Centre Pompidou 2005, p. 68-70 [Courtesy MNAM Centre Pompidou].
- IMAGE CREDITS
Obligations pour la roulette de Monte Carlo, 1924 [= Monte Carlo Bond]. Photo-collage on colored lithograph (31.1 x 19.7 cm) [collection The Museum of Modern Art, New York NY].
- Faites vos jeux! Kunst und Spiel seit Dada ; 10. Juni-23. Oktober 2005 Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Vaduz [...] / Nike Bätzner (Hatje Cantz Verlag : Ostfildern 2005).
- IMAGE CREDITS
banner: (detail) Raoul Hausmann, 'Mechanischer Kopf' (Der Geist unserer Zeit), 1920 [Collection Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris].