What the Dada? (6 of 8)

So, making sense of nonsense? Dada has a whimsical yet apathetic feeling about it. The Manifesto is Anti-Manifesto. It claims beauty is dead. What do they mean by that? The concept of beauty or all beauty? They claim man can’t be boxed in by ideals and that the Bible can’t explain everything. So man has no limits according to them, but there are still limitations outside of morality? Dada wants independence vs. unity, so we cannot all get along. Why can’t a person be independent and still get along with others that they may not be in lock step with in thought? These kind of ideologies seem to have an all or nothing pattern. They can be so creative with art, but with thought battle each other for supremacy.  

In the Anti-Manifesto, they mention everything is false. Then why are you writing and why am I reading this and supposed to trust you? Don’t trust my own logic? Then what am I supposed to use? Dada is paradoxical, a kind of ‘I have no brain and I must think’ instead of mouth and scream. I’m guessing this is one of the precursors to the whole idea of countercultural revolutions of thought and action. Instead of art being for the public, Dada argues art is supposed to be for the artist. One could make that argument, but it also implies the artist is of a selfish nature if they will not share with others. They seem to be making the assumption that an artist who is loved by the public is a sellout. Would you call Rembrandt or Picasso or Warhol sellouts? I find this line of reasoning to be quite flawed if funny. The artists who stand the test of time did NOT just think about themselves, they were often influenced by the humanity that lived and suffered around them. I’m not sure what they hope to gain by saying morality creates atrophy, but I much rather an artist care about their subjects and people when they paint than being emotionally cut off from society and our problems. 


I agree with you Marianna that Dada is a movement made up of conflicting elements. Not just conflicting art movements, but conflicting sentiments about the movement itself. What stood out to me in all of the Dada readings, is that the premise of the movement is to not care about art. We discussed this thoroughly in class, that despite the insignificance that is supposed to be attributed to Dada art is what gives it its significance! The amount of precision, detail, planning, and structure that is placed into the Dada art we studied in class, contradicts this main tenant of Dadaism. What we are supposed to not believe in, is what we end up believing. We are not supposed to "care" about the art we create, yet the creators of the Dada art we looked at, seem to care a lot. Why else would they have put so much time and effort into crafting their images within images into a themed scale? Another example of these conflicting sentiments at work is the Dada Manifesto of 1918. The language that the movement's founder, Tristan Tzara uses, "I write a manifesto and I want nothing, yet, I say certain things, and in principles, I am against manifestos, as I am also against principles... I am against action; for continuous contradiction, for affirmation too, I am neither for or against and I do not explain because I hate common sense. [...] (1). As confusing as this "manifesto" is, it does, nevertheless, provide an explanation for the function, purpose, and backstory of the Dada art movement. I almost read this manifesto as a sort of satirical sarcasm. The movement is presented as something that we should not take seriously, and, yet, it became a movement that was first only followed by fellow artists, but eventually grew into a universal movement. Evidently, there are two types of conflict present in Dada; conflicting artistic movements, and conflicting sentiments about the movement.