headlines | about |

What was Dada? Why is there a Dada Archive? And why, of all places, is it in Iowa?

categories: | |

Some people over the World are concerned by the Paris riots and some cars burning, I can tell you that everything was always in order, all this was not happening in Paris but in the suburbs where the poor are conveniently located with the poor. In Paris all the rage is about the Dada exhibition at the Pompidou Center, you see Dada was such a revolutionary Art movement from way back, they say.

And it was. At least I was sure of it before seeing this exhibition which is an archetypal example of curatorial ineptitude. No attempt is made to convey the ebullient, lively and volcanic genius of the chaos developed under the non-sensical name of dada. In fact the determination of the curators to circumvent the shambolic bleeding heart of the dada critique is unavoidable as they have systematically laid their lacklustre show within a 3D grid. The 6th floor of the Pompidou is cut into small adjoining cubic boxes which as well as having a map-like reference such as A3 for the "social critique" box provide no relief in their vertical juxtaposition of professionally framed oeuvres. The effect of this perfectly laid out gentrification culminates as the curators seem so proud of the extensivity of their collection that they pin under glass seemingly every single bit of paper ever produced by every Dadaist and their uncle. Thousands of notes, drafts, leaflets are tamingly assembled as so many dead butterflies by an obsessive kid dumbed by his fetishism, blinded from beauty and feeling.

The ridicule of this agrarian arrangement is revealed by a small photograph in one of the rooms: It is a picture taken at one of the dada events of the time. Posters are pinned to walls, pictures are placed in front of others, a person is seated behind a plank filled with piles of pamphlets and it all looks like it is happening in the corner of a bar near the toilets.

One is left to wonder at the merciless machine of the Museum and its relentless will to disgrace the achievements of free thinking human beings. Still the corrosive power of dada surmounts the reactionary blandization that it is unwillingly subjected to: the energized visitor can still revitalize the ingredients provided and reproduce the mayhem and dissent that is dada forever.