Thursday 14 July 2016

Dada Manifesto: Zurich July 14,1916 - Hugo Ball

                                                            Hugo Ball

Dadaism was an art movement founded by Hugo Ball in 1916 in Zurich, Switzerland hundred years ago this year that became an international art movement. They had one rule which was to never follow any known rules. It arose because they were against the culture and values of the early 20th century which it was believed had caused and supported the carnage of the First World War in 1914-18. On the following link Dr Jeane Willett explains how Dada was a reaction to the "psychological  catastrophe" that was Word War 1 and a reaction to the futility of war.They saw the unremitting slaughter as the undeniable proof that the nationalist authorities on both sides had failed society and that the system was corrupt. United in their protest against the war and in their opposition to the establishment, 'they banded together under the battle cry of DADA!!!!'
The Dadaist's aimed to destroy traditional values in art and to create a new art to replace the old. Dada's weapons of choice in their war with the establishment were confrontation and provocation.Art in revolt., anti-establishment, provocative that refused to be categorised into any ideological group, crazy, wild and free. They attacked traditional artistic values with irrational attitudes and provoked conservative complacency with outrageous statements and actions. They also launched a full scale assault on the art world which they saw as part of the system. It was considered equally culpable and consequently had to be toppled. Dada questioned the value of all art and whether its existence was simply an indulgence of the bourgeoisie.It was an “anti-movement movement dedicated to anti-art,” with deliberately nonsensical tactics and a Nihilistic message, i.e. that life is essentially meaningless.
The great paradox of Dada is that they claimed to be anti-art,  but even their most negative attacks on the establishment resulted in positive artworks that opened a door to future developments in 20th century art. The effect of Dada was to create a climate in which art was alive to the moment and not paralysed by the traditions and restrictions of established values.It lay the groundwork to abstract art and sound poetry, a starting point for performance art, a prelude to postmodernism, an influence on pop art, a celebration of antiart to be later embraced for anarcho-political uses in the 1960s and the movement that lay the foundation for Surrealism.
 ' Dada signifies nothing,’ declared one of Dada’s main players, Tristan Tzara.
‘Not even the Dadaists know what Dada is,’ concurred one of his key collaborators, Johannes Baader.
The word itself was enigmatic: a word picked randomly  from a French-German dictionary, in French meant hobby horse, in German it means ‘good-by,’ Get off my back,’ ‘Be seeing you sometime.’” Dada meant all of this, and nothing at all.

During World War 1 many Anarchists, revolutionaries, pacifists,artists,writers and intellectuals who were opposed to the war sought refuge from conscription in neutral Switzerland. Zurich was a melting pot for these exiles and reviled the political and cultural norms of the time. For them, the bloodshed of World War One didn’t just mark a futile loss of human life, it confirmed other forms of expiry – the failure of the entire project of Western philosophy, the death of the human “spirit”, and the inadequacy of language, which had been abused for politically corrupt ends and defiled by jingoism.
Born 1886 in Pirmasens, the writer Hugo Ball who was the inspiration for the classic Talking Heads song I Zimbra   with his poem "Gadji beri bimba studied German literature, philosophy, and history at the universities of Munich and Heidelberg (1906-1907). In 1910, he moved to Berlin in order to become an actor and collaborated with Max Reinhardt and worked as a director and stage manager for various theater companies in Berlin, Plauen, and Munich. He also started writing, contributing to the expressionist journals Die Neue Kunst and Die Aktion, both of which, in style and in content, anticipated the format of later Dada journals At the beginning of the First World War he tried joining the army as a volunteer, but was denied enlistment for medical issues. After witnessing the invasion of Belgium, he was disillusioned saying: "The war is founded on a glaring mistake, men have been confused with machines". Considered a traitor in his country, he crossed the frontier with the cabaret performer and poet Emmy Hennings,  and settled in Zurich. Here, Ball continued his interest in anarchism, and in Mikhail Bakunin in particular; he also worked on the book of Bakunin translations, which never got published. Although interested in anarchist philosophy, he nonetheless rejected it for its militant aspects, and viewed it as only a means to his personal goal of enlightenment.It was in Zurich on February 5th, 1916 that he and his partner opened the 'Cabaret Voltaire', a rendezvous for the more radical element of the avant-garde. This venue was a cross between a night club and an arts centre where artists would exhibit their work to a explosive mixture of experimental music, poetry, readings and dance and political theater. — poetry shorn of intelligible words, where melodies and statements in which the message was cannibalized by the absurdity of the language. His intentions regarding the Caberet Voltaire are defined in the following words " It is necessary to clarify the intentions of this cabaret. It is its aim to remind the world that there are people of independent minds - beyond war and nationalism - who live for different ideals." (from the contribution entitled "Lorsque je fondis le Cabaret Voltaire" ["Why I founded the Cabaret Voltaire"], in the publication "Cabaret Voltaire," Zürich, 1916).
The Dadaists were in there own way  the very first performance artists, who besides sound poems also invented the simultaneous poem (whereby verses are read out in different languages and at different speeds at the same time) and were the precursors of modernn-day slam poetry.
Among the original contributors to the 'Cabaret Voltaire' were Jean (Hans) Arp, Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco and Richard Huelsenbeck. Although the Dadaists were united in their ideals, they had no unifying style. Between 1917-1920 the Dada group attracted many different types of artists including Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch, Johannes Baader, Francis Picabia, Georg Grosz, John Heartfield, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, Andre Breton,  Kurt Schwitters, and Hans Richter.
At the first public Dada-Soirée, at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich, a hundred years ago today on July 14, 1916, Hugo Ball read aloud his  Dada manifesto and summed up his absurdist nature: ‘How does one achieve eternal bliss? By saying Dada.  — and recited several of his sound poems, including "Karawane," reënacted below consisting of nonsensical words.The meaning however resides in its meaninglessness, reflecting the chief principle behind Dadaism.

Hugo Ball - Karawane


Hugo stayed active in Dada movement for another six months, but the manifesto created conflict with his friends, notably Tristan Tzara because he was at odds over Tzara's ambition to make Dada into an international movement with a systematic doctrine Some of Hugo Bell' other best known works include the poem collection 7 schizophrene Sonette, the drama Die Nase des Michelangelo, a memoir of the Zurich period Flight Out of Time: A Dada Diary, and a biography of Hermann Hesse, entitled Hermann Hesse. Sein Leben und sein Werk (1927). Hugo would retire to Ticino, where he completely devoted himself to mystical Catholicism.He died in 14 September 1927.d in' Abbondio, Switzerland, 14 September 1927.
After the war, the face of Dada began to change. Many of the Dadaists who were exiles in Zurich began to drift back to their home countries and found that life was quite different there. As they relocated to Berlin, Cologne, Hanover and some as far as New York, Dada developed an international reputation but each of these venues had its own distinctive style inspired by the artists who settled there.In post-war Berlin, Dada became less anti-art and adopted a more political stance. Reality bit hard as the war-weary population struggled to survive the effects of economic meltdown.  There was social and political disorder as Left fought Right for control of the government.  In this climate the irreverent posturing of Zurich Dada would have been totally inappropriate, so Dada in Berlin emerged with a harder hitting punch.Raoul Hausmann, Hannah Höch, John Heartfield and George Grosz were the main artists who developed the strident political satire of Berlin Dada.
Dada would ultmately self destruct,the internal squabbling brought Dada to an abrupt end. And even though it would not last it still endures, it has become a state of mind. In their subversiveness and experimentation, the Dadaists were forging modes of working and forms of art that would either anticipate or directly influence the shape of much art to come and.the heart of dada still to be found in its poetry and provocations, its polemics and experiments with chance.... maybe the time for Dada is right now?

Dada Manifesto ( 1916, Hugo Ball)
read at the first public by Dada soiree, Zurich, July 14, 1916.

" 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.
An international word. Just a word, and the word a movement. Very easy to understand. Quite terribly simple. To make of it an artistic tendency must mean that one is anticipating complications. Dada psychology, dada Germany cum indigestion and fog paroxysm, dada literature, dada bourgeoisie, and yourselves, honored poets, who are always writing with words but never writing the word itself, who are always writing around the actual point. Dada world war without end, dada revolution without beginning, dada, you friends and also-poets, esteemed sirs, manufacturers, and evangelists. Dada Tzara, dada Huelsenbeck, dada m'dada, dada m'dada dada mhm, dada dere dada, dada Hue, dada Tza.
How does one achieve eternal bliss? By saying dada. How does one become famous? By saying dada. With a noble gesture and delicate propriety. Till one goes crazy. Till one loses consciousness. How can one get rid of everything that smack of journalism, worms, everything nice and right, blinkered, moralistic, europeanized, enervated? By saying dada. Dada is the world soul, dada is the pawnshop. Dada is the world's best lily-milk soap. Dada Mr. Rubiner, dada Mr. Korrodi. Dada Mr. Anastasius Lilienstein.
In plain language: the hospitality of the Swiss is something to be profoundly appreciated. And in questions of aesthetics the key is quality.
I shall be reading poems that are meant to dispense with conventional language, no less, and to have done with it. Dada Johann Fuschgang Goethe, Dada Stendhal. Dada Dalai Lama, Buddha, Bible and Nietzsche. Dada m'dada. Dada mhm dada da. It's a question of connections, and of loosening them up a bit to start with. I don't want words that other people have invented. All the words are other people's inventions. I want my own stuff, my own rhythm, and vowels and consonants too, matching the rhythm and all my own. If this pulsation in seven yards long, I want words for it that are seven yards long. Mr. Schulz's words are only two and a half centimetres long.
It will serve to show how articulated language comes into being. I let the vowels fool around. I let the vowels quite simply occur, as a cat miaows... Words emerge, shoulders of words, legs, arms, hands of words. Au, oi, uh. One shouldn't let too many words out. A line of poetry is a chance to get rid of all the filth that clings to this accursed language, as if put there by stockbrokers' hands, hands worn smooth by coins. I want the word where it ends and begins. Dada is the heart of words.
Each thing has its word, but the word has become a thing by itself. Why shouldn't I find it? Why can't a tree be called Pluplusch, and Pluplubasch when it has been raining? The word, the word, the word outside your domain, your stuffiness, this laughable impotence, your stupendous smugness, outside all the parrotry of your self-evident limitedness. The word, gentlemen, is a public concern of the first importance."

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