DAMTP COMMENT TO DADA BIRTHDAY CONFERENCE ON PEDAGOGICS /// ALYTUS, LITHUANIA
- Written by Tae Ateh
Firstly dada is often reduced to Duchamp, especially readymades (what is art/ what is not art) - when readymades were produced by Duchamp between 1913-1915 - before dada. Also Duchamp was hardly part of dada. He was on the periphery of dada.
Related to this, dada was very different in different places. eg in Berlin, Schwitters was (allegedly) excluded by Grosz and Huelsenbeck for not being politically engaged enough. On the other hand in Cologne Seiwert and the Cologne Progressives moved away from dada because it was not politically engaged enough...
Next i think what i did not mention at the event is that dada is connected to us through practice through a line of progression. And this line could feature: surrealism, letterism, situationism and neoism. it could be drawn differently too, eg cybernetic art, fluxus, telematic art, performance art or again: negritude, Harlem renaisance, africobra, agit art ... or again: jazz, beatnik, punk, hip hop ...
Also the question of women in dada and in art. someone spoke of glory - i think Howard. Dada was an anti-war movement. Art, like politics is the continuation of war through other means. war is traditionally a male dominated arena. But to go beyond the war/antiwar, art/antiart logic, we have to consciously do so - and talk of reproductive and destructive workers as well as psychic workers - in other words see the whole situation.
What also i am thinking about is the avant-garde. The avant-garde for me is about artists self-organising. in doing so becoming conscious of themselves as workers and the resources they use and share as workers. Of taking control of the means of production, distribution and
consumption, collectively. This means also having to come to a conscious relation to other workers. This for me is not about addressing the workers or educating the workers. it has to do with creating a way of organising that is in harmony with the wider movement of the working class as it organises itself. the problem of bolshevism is the separation of psychic workers into political and cultural workers as separate from economic or productive workers. This ignores the fact that artists and activists both produce things: books, publications, art works. making these available to the working class as samizdat, graffiti etc is is to do with self organising as workers in relation to other workers.