while i knew it was coming, it took ken and lauri saturday at the brewer's art in baltimore after his reading with lisa jarnot to reminded that the dada show opened sunday.
i was there with a cup of mobil oil coffee at 10:45am in 20 degree weather, when the line was not too bad. leaning on the handrail with a 40-foot L.H.O.O.Q. behind me, what a photo op! by 10:55 the line went down to constitution ave. with no sign of ken, lauri or adam, i walked on in.
the very first thing you're confronted with upon entering the exhibit is a 3-4 minute loop of WWI film footage. brutal shit: rows of amputes, clouds of mustard gas, a guy getting fitted with a prothetic face. i immediately sat down on a cushioned bench in front of the film next to an older couple. and after a short time i said out loud "i'm so glad their starting the exhibit with this." and the woman next to me said "i know, it's so important, people think this [dada] was all just a joke, but it had everything to do with the war." we commented to each other on the stream of catastrophes passing before our eyes: the mangled bodies, the destruction, the waste. "incredible that the same technology created the chemicals to destroy flesh and the prostheses to replace flesh" i said. "wasn't it the first war fought from the air" the man asked. "enjoy the show" they said as they left.
it felt good, when so much of what we do as artists is misunderstood if not spurned outright by this society of ours, to be in the national gallery of art, amidst throngs of people who have come to see the art that is so central to the past century and what many of us try to do today. to walk up the stairs and see the instructions for tzara's dada poem placed literally step by step, with "the poem will resemble you" at the top. to think of all the people who pass through the merz photoreproductions and hear schwitters' "ur sonate" maybe for the first time, and the security guard who will listen to it all day. the little kids who smile and get it because they haven't been taught yet to think otherwise.
initial impressions and recollections -- there will be many more. (and adam bought the catalog but i'm excited to go back through my motherwell anthology in honor and trubute...)
sophie taeuber! i never knew. heads, needlepoint (was there much dada handicraft?), marionettes.
the publications: in almost every room, a glass case at the center chock full of little mags. (reminds me of the russian futurist show at the whitney a few years back.)
janco's jazz --> cubist cezanne
arp drawings --> kandinsky/miro (cutout organic forms)
richter's "project for unrealized film fugue" --> ny school graphic notation scores
check films shown with one i have on my avant-garde films of the 1920s and 1930s DVDs.
the distinct feels the exhibition give to each city. berlin feels more expressionist, burlesque. baader's and hoch's collages.
hannover -- schwitters -- more muddily futurist?
merz lithos --> mccaffery's carnival
cologne -- cleaner?
ernst! why the surrealists loved him (i never understood before...)
new york -- slick?
crotti --> klee/tinguely (primitive organic machines)
different photographic processes -- man ray, who else?
paris -- humanist?
rrose sélavy & transvestitism?
ribemont-dessiagnes --> picabia
stop menacing me, rossignol!