Once more on Dada

Paris_1966 “Can we deny that there was a project conceived, a society formed in order to support materialism, to destroy religion, and to inspire independence and nurture the corruption of morals?”

100 years ago the word “Dada” was coined to name the riot of destructive possibility unfurling at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich. The “discovery” of the term is disputed by interested parties (now dead). 

One of the participants in the Parisian Dada group, Georges Ribemont-Dessaignes, wrote that Dada’s “general tendency” was “destructive, but with a view to a superior reality”. In his History of Dada (1931) he also noted that Dada’s anti-art quickly ran up against the impasse of mere scandal: “the crowd is willing to accept anything in an art which is translated into works. But it does not tolerate attacks on reasons for living.” Ribemont-Dessaignes detected that the initial,  largely “spontaneous” Dada demonstration in Paris, in March 1920 had already begun…

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