Describe Dada here.
What, you say? It doesn't end up in our belly buttons, but rather shirt lint does? Shirley, you jest. And yes, you are now called Shirley. Perhaps you fail to understand the teleportational properties of sock lint — The Tick did at first, until it was later illustrated to him...
Dada itself started in the middle of World War I. The belief of its practitioners was that "the war to end all wars" was such a brutal, devastating and ultimately meaningless conflictnote that such an ugly world didn't deserve art. So, in response, the practitioners of Dada gave the world anti-art.
For some time, its practitioners managed to shock the living daylights out of the world, with installations like Tristan Tzara's rendition of fellow Dadaist Hugo Ball's poem "Gadji beri bimba" (made of complete nonsense words)note while painted to look like a grotesque statue, signing a urinal and putting it in an art installation and calling it a fountain, and the painting LHOOQnote , the famous picture of the Mona Lisa with a moustache and goatee (now often a Stock Parody).
Dada eventually died out as a major movement for a few reasons. First and foremost, like Grunge during The '90s, people started to like it — completely the opposite effect that Dada was shooting for. For another, its inherently nihilistic outlook wore on some of its practitioners, and they went in different artistic directions (most famously, into Surrealism, which was often just as confusing to people but with more point). Finally, as bad as World War I ended up, it got worse. If anything, one could look at some of the worst parts of World War II and see the end result of Dada — utter brutality and disgust for a world that doesn't deserve art. (Or in layman's terms, Dada caused the Holocaust. How's that for shock value?)
Dada still has a small but thriving following to this day — anything indulging in Surreal or Vulgar Humor will certainly take at least a quick look at it for inspiration, and more than one Black Comedy has been noted as falling squarely into the Dada tradition. Ubu Roi (King Ubu), a Dada take on Macbeth, Hamlet and King Lear (technically, predating Dada proper by 2 decades) is still produced today. The influence of Dada can also be seen in Youtube Poop which was at first done simply to confuse audiences looking for other works and has been described as Neo-Dada, and Postmodernism has at least part of its influence from Dada and what would later become of it.
Compare and contrast Postmodernism, which sprung out of the world's reaction to WWII instead.
This movement provided examples of:
- Becoming the Mask: After they started to receive some public acclaim for their work, some began to lose sight of their original anti-art purpose, took their work far more seriously, and invoked True Art Is Incomprehensible in a more earnest way, eventually turning to Surrealism and similar movements.
- Black Comedy: For the most part, it was all about laughing at the audience.
- Cluster F-Bomb: Some works just went with massive swearing to shock the crowd (merde was a popular choice, for example in Ubu Roi). Some maintain the level of shock, others are prone to...
- Curse of the Ancients
- Deconstruction: The movement as a whole would deconstruct the notion of the brutality of the world it was made in - tearing it apart as the world the artists saw did not deserve art.
- Hypocritical Humor: You know, the artists themselves didn't quite deserve the entertainment they got out of it, either.
- Insistent Terminology: A lot of people involved in Dada (including critics today) dislike the term "Dadaism" because Dada was "against all forms of -ism" to begin with.
- Mind Screw: The less you understood of what you saw, the better in the eyes of the makers. This at first was very successful, and would utterly confuse many with what they saw.
- Mustache Vandalism: Marcel Duchamp modified a copy of The Mona Lisa this way and gave it the title L.H.O.O.Q. (this is a phonetic rendering of "Elle a chaud au cul", meaning "she's a nymphomaniac")
- Refuge in Audacity: Given how often installations resulted in police intervention, it wasn't much refuge.
- Spiritual Successor: Surrealism — much of the off-the-wall imagery and doings of Dada, but with an actual pro-artistic purpose. Now, if more than a few individuals actually understood it...
- Stealth Pun: Elle a chaud au cul.
- Stock Parody: "LHOOQ" is itself a stock parody of Mona Lisa Smile; also, The Treachery of Images is often parodied (see the page for several examples).
- Troll: The movement as a whole would be trolling those trying to enjoy art by making things that they wanted nobody to enjoy, and laughing at those who tried to enjoy it, and failing in the process.
- True Art Is Incomprehensible: Dadaism and its contemporary styles gave rise to this attitude; also, this was among the reasons the movement died out — "true" Dada is anti-art, and people were too often treating Dadaism as an art form, defeating the purpose of the style.
- The Walrus Was Paul: The less you understood of what you saw, the better in the eyes of the makers. This at first was very successful, and would utterly confuse many with what they saw.
- Word Salad Title: Legend has it that they chose the name "Dada" by sticking a knife in a dictionary and choosing the word it pointed to. It means "hobby horse."
- Another theory is that it was chosen to sound like a baby dribbling gibberish.
- It also means "yes, yes!" in Romanian, Russian and Serbian. Tristan Tzara, one of the original Dada artists, was noted as having 'Yes, yes!' as a Verbal Tic, and was Romanian.
- Some of them also claimed that it was from the African Kru language and meant "the tail of the sacred cow."