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Were it appropriate to define Dada, one might describe it as diametrically opposed to conceptions of purity, or any other structures seemingly pertaining to virtue or morality. If one shifts the connotation of purity to its alternate context, however — purity in the sense of sterility, as the product of some aggressive corrosion — it then appears fitting to Dada’s stated purposes, or lack thereof.

In the 13th issue of the Dadaist magazine Littérature, published in May of 1920 and entitled “The Twenty-Three Manifestos of the Dada Movement,” Dada’s obsessive preoccupation with graphic physical and sexual violence becomes evident. Particularly within the text “Dada God-swatter,” authored by Paul Dermée, Dada positions itself as superior to other modes of expression through its defamation of God, rejection of societal structures, and vivid illustration of excretory and sexual bodily functions. Of course, any analysis herein is constrained by the fact that Dada takes specific care not to confine itself by devotion to any objective standards. Nonetheless, if one allows for the assumption that some Dadaist works explicitly set out to produce comedy, it would not be outrageous to suggest that Dada at times uses the casual expression of graphic violence to create comedy that is dependent on shock-value: the creation of this uncomfortable reaction in the reader is meant to amplify feelings of disgust toward people and structures that conform to non-Dada standards. …

Anya

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