DADA TECHNIQUES IN EAST-CENTRAL EUROPE (1916–1930)
Imre József Balázs
Words, sounds, images and theories: the authors of the magazine IS in the context of Dadaism
The periodical IS, published in Budapest during 1924-1925 was often considered to have been an important exponent of Hungarian Dadaist art. Authors like György Gerő, Ágost Karly, György Kristóf, Árpád Mezei, and Imre Pán definitely crossed borders in Hungarian art – while Gerő conquered the dimensions of the visual, becoming one of the first experimental film directors in Hungary, Kristóf was an early representative of sound poetry in Hungarian literature. The works of Mezei and Pán can be interpreted along the analogy of the French transfer from Dada to Surrealism, Mezei and Pán becoming major promoters of Surrealism in Hungary during the next decade. The paper offers an interpretation of the major literary creations published in IS in the context of Dadaism and of the later developments in their authors’ literary career.
Imre József Balázs holds a PhD in literary history from the Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj (2004). He is editor of the cultural review Korunk since 1999 and chief editor between 2008-2012; associate professor at the Department of Hungarian Literature at Babeş-Bolyai University, and postdoctoral research fellow at Babeş-Bolyai University – Romanian Academy of Science (2011-2012). Participant of the 2012, 2014 and 2016 conferences of the European Network for Avant-Garde and Modernism Studies at the University of Kent, University of Helsinki and University of Rennes. Major publications include: The Avant-garde in Transylvanian Hungarian Literature (in Hungarian, 2006 and in Romanian, 2009), Avant-garde and Representations of Communism in Hungarian Literature from Romania (2009) and The Non-Oedipal Android: Towards a Surrealist Utopia in Post war Romania (in Utopia, De Gruyter, 2015.).
The double identity of Tristan Tzara and Marcel Janco – The archives of an identity issue
This paper is part of my interdisciplinary research, which seeks to illuminate through exploring Romanian avant-garde journals, correspondence with fellow avant-gardists and primary writings, the construction of artistic identity in the case of Tristan Tzara (Samuel Rosenstock) and Marcel Janco. It seeks to answer if their double identity (Romanian and Jewish) was a definitive factor in shaping their attitude and common criticism directed towards the nationalistic views – ethnically speaking – of the Romanian sphere in terms of art. Additionally it analyses the exile period of both artists, its cultural significance, while attempting to understand if there is a connection between their geographical exile and the artistic one, is trying to pin the Romanian context onto their Dada practices. Concretely, this presentation considers Tzara’s and Janco’s early artistic period in relation to the existence of Judaism as their cultural identity, mostly unconscious in their thoughts, in light of the emergence of the Romanian avant-garde itself. It will argue that, with some exceptions, Jewish artists chose the avant-garde not only as a form of expressing their outrage and as a substitution for social-political difficulties, but also as a protective coating; a survival mechanism of their cultural identity through the universalism of the avant-garde – the ‘biblical heredity’ noticeable in their writings. This will be done by looking at the avant-garde journals published in Romania (1922-1932) and their circles as a starting point, analysing the various ways in which its main contributors define their own ethnic and cultural identity. Such an intervention is needed given that the question of the ethnic identity of the Romanian avant-garde has been neglected or insufficiently researched for several decades due to a series of reasons connected to the xenophobic or often too nationalistic climate.
Alexandru Bar is a PhD student in the School of Languages, Cultures and Societies, University of Leeds, (AHRC) Doctoral studentship with the Performing the Jewish Archives (PtJA). Originally from Romania, Alexandru graduated from Tel Aviv University, with a Master's of Arts in Political Science. His research interests include Romanian-Jews in avant-garde movements, Romanian-Jewish history and culture in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, and Jewish identity in the context of the politics of national unification in Greater Romania. Within the PtJA project, Alexandru worked in collaboration with the Theatre Company Blah Blah Blah and the Holocaust Survivors' Friendship Association Leeds to create a series of interactive workshops in response to the consistent demand from schools for talks from Holocaust survivors. He is a Member of the Australian Association for Jewish Studies and of the European Association for Jewish Studies.
Czech Avant-garde – Devětsil and the influence of Dada
The artists association Devětsil, founded in 1920 in Prague, was soaking up – for a variety of reasons – many of the current art trends like Soviet Constructivism, French Purism and also Berlin Dada. Although none of the Czech artists describe themselves as ‘Dadaists’, there nevertheless is a significant impact of Dada in the developing art in Czechoslovakia, for instance the Bazar moderního uměni (Bazar of modern art), which was the first organized appearance of Devětsil in 1923. This exhibition dealt with the extension of the art-term, as did the Erste Internationale Dada-Messe (First International Dada-Fair) in Berlin in 1920. The Bazar moderního uměni was a mixture of paintings, architecture, photographs, posters and ready-mades. In my presentation I outline the expansion of the concept of art as a Dada-technique, which was subject of the art discourse in Czechoslovakia, too. Already in 1922, the Dada-technique of photomontage had become a popular means of artistic expression within the Devětsil group. A clear-cut comparison between Dada artists in Berlin and the Czechoslovakian artists shall reveal a metaphorical takeover of Dada – further encouraged by the stays of Raoul Hausmann, John Heartfield and especially Kurt Schwitters. But Devětsil was not a literal reproduction of Dada. From the dada-like photomontage they proceeded to Poetism in 1923 – a unique form of Dada in Czechoslovakia and once again an expansion of the art-term. In my presentation, I want to point out, that the Czech avant-garde was strongly influenced by the international network and cultural transfer on the one hand but it developed very specific strategies to distinguish itself from the other avant-garde directions on the other.
Carolin Binder is a PhD candidate at the University of Regensburg, where she received her BA (2013) and MA (2015) in Art History, Russian philology and Czech studies. She is currently preparing her doctoral research project on Devětsil and Bauhaus. The reception of Bauhaus in Czechoslovakia. Her research focuses on East-West cultural transfer and the history and reception of the avant-gardes in Central and Eastern Europe. Her publications include Ilja Repin und der Aufbruch in die neue russische Kunst (Junge Slavistik im Dialog IV, 2015) and WChUTEMAS - ein russisches Labor der Moderne: Architekturentwürfe 1920–1930 (Journal für Kunstgeschichte, 19, 2/2015).
The Last Dadaist Action of Tristan Tzara
The objective of our study is to revisit documents of the Archives of Tzaras Fonds located in Bibliotheque Jacques Doucet (Sainte-Geneviève) of Paris, the Archives in Hungarian Ministry for Foreign Affairs and the reflections of Cristophe Tzara, son of the writer. Our aim is to emphasize the signification and the importance of an interview made with Tzara on 16th October 1956 about the revolutionary situation in Hungary. This courageous dadaist action was the first sign of a rupture within the elite of French Communist Party and within the French intelligentsia. Tzara have suffered for his action. He was totally rejected by the French artistic life which was widely influenced by Aragon. Our study presents some aspects of Tzaras work in the Cabaret Voltaire and also in Paris. We try to widen out the signification of Tzara’s above mentioned interview and to interpret his individual action in social context and further as an adventure for conscience of Tristan Tzara.
Jenő Farkas is a PhD literary historian, professor of the Institute of Romanian Philology at the Eötvös Loránd University. His research focuses on the Romanian literature of the 20th century, on the international avant-garde and on comparative French-Romanian-Hungarian literary history. His research topics also include the methodology of Romanian language teaching and Hungarian-Romanian comparative linguistics. He presented his research topics widely on international conferences, published eight books in Hungarian and Romanian and published more than a hundred articles and studies in Hungarian, Romanian and French journals, among others on the Hungarian relations of Tristan Tzara.
Cyborg, Android, Dandy, and Women in Decadent and Dada imagination
The paper focuses on two specific Dada figures, the ‘cyborg’ and the ‘dandy’, and on this occasion, from a gender perspective. The ‘cyborg’ – e.g. in New York Dada – embodies women’s threatening masculinized erotism, fears of collapse of individualism, anxieties about a society of consumers rather than producers (linked to feminity), and the potential feminization of culture in a technological mass-produced age; a technological object that confounds the dichotomy between natural/artificial, self/other, offering feminism a way out of the sharp essentialist-constructivist opposition, and creating for cyber-feminist conceptions (Haraway, Braidotti) an ironic figure of hope and liberation (Alex Goody). The ‘dandy’ is the embodiment of elegance, coldness and detachment, unfathomability and of an attitude to make from our personality an artistic object; in the romantic and Decadent literature, the unnatural, artistic person, originally the opposition of natural and abject feminity, that e.g. Hannah Höch can subvert with her collage (Da-Dandy) and her ‘garçonne’ look. In the paper I examine several examples for these figures, finding their sources in the 19th century imagination (E. T. A. Hoffmann, Villiers de l’Isle-Adam, Baudelaire, Barbey d’Aurevilly etc.). These figures appear in Hungarian avant-garde as well, e.g. in Sándor Bortnyik’s paintings (The New Adam and The New Eve, 1924), and in Alice Madzsar’s choreographies: five versions for Mechanical Dance, performed at ‘Cikk-cakk’ (Zig-zag) and ‘Prizma’ (Prism) evenings.
Györgyi Földes is a research fellow at the Twentieth Century department of the Hungarian Academy’s Research Centre for the Humanities, Institute of literary Studies and editor in chief of Helikon, Rewiew of Literary Studies. She teaches literature also at Pannon University in Veszprém. Her research interests include Hungarian and French literature, and Theory of Literature (decadence and smbolism, avant-garde, gender and body writing theories).
Adolf Loos: dandy, Dada, dancer
Adolf Loos was one of the main precursors and interpreters of modern European architecture. He frequented Austrian intellectuals and artists, such as Karl Kraus, Peter Altenberg, Arnold Schönberg and Oscar Kokoschka, who prepared him culturally for the lively, early decades of the last century. The concern for the ‘Finis Austriae’, which characterised German intellectuals of the period, showed itself in his contempt for petit bourgeois customs, clothes and illusions. His anti-conformist, dandyish and anti-artistic behaviour drew him to the innovative themes of Dadaism. Loos built a house for Tristan Tzara and his wife in Paris and was one of the first cosmopolitan architects during the 20th century. He frequented a famous dancer such as Josephine Baker and designed a provocative house to reflect her outgoing personality. His work is interesting for his polemical views on contemporary society. The paper aims to trace the relationship between Loos, Dada and modern theories on art and architecture, investigating his projects. Moreover, the paper aims to analyse Loos’s work to underline the conditions for a new architectural and artistic vision came to light during the same social, political and economical crisis.
Luca Guido is an architect, critic and historian of contemporary architecture. His dissertation entitled Building the American Landscape examines the relationship between city, architecture and landscape in the U.S. from T. Jefferson to F.L. Wright. He is also interested in the developments of Italian architecture during post WWII years and participates in numerous conferences on theories faced by architects of the 20th century. His books include Surfing Complexity that focuses on his collaboration in professional practise, with a preface by Claude Parent, L’Architettura del Neoespressionismo tedesco, catalogue of the exhibition realized at Iuav, Architettura come frammento: Franco Pedacchia, book on problems of contemporary architecture in restoration and conservation.
Dada, a monocle Wor(l)d
An inoubliable appearance for Tzara is the monocle; without one, there is no Tzara. In his late years, Tzara took a pair of glasses to study the Villon anagrams and Medieval puns: untill then, the monocle as part of Tzara identity took a variety of forms and images.
Various sides are intricate in a monocle: the obvious fashionable side, the mask, the gender, the religion or virtual reality.
Is really effective or necessary a monocle? It is out fashioned? Or it marks a kind of ‘independence’ regarding the well-known glasses? The lorgnon; the theatre glasses or the binocular. The history of an fashion object. The Avant-garde style in fashion: the look of the avant-garde artists.
The Tzara’s monocle: arguments for a design or for a mask. The perpetuation of a modern ritual in apparences of Tzara’s comilitons: Arp, Ball or Huelsenbeck. The aurist instrument; physics and physicians. Anemic cinema. Duchamp’s veil and Rrose Sélavy. Monalisa: gender and transgender. The monocle is the universal language of disguise. Pirating.
A glass eye is better than a monocle? Victor Brauner’s life and vision or Dada meets Surrealism. Portraits of Tzara: Iancu, Delauney, Brauner.
Other eye occultations: Gellu Naum’s Self -portrait; the camera’s eye: Man Ray is regarding Tzara. The independence of the alternative worlds. The monocle as an ancestor of virtual reality.
Dan Gulea is teacher of Romanian literature at Mihai Viteazul Highschool in Ploiești. Given his profession, he published the manuscript of the play Titircă, Sotirescu & Cia by I.L. Caragiale, as well as other works with educational purpose. In 2007, he completed a Ph.D. cum laude at University of Bucharest, about the evolution of Romanian avant-garde, published as Gentlemen, Tovarishes, Comrades. He is the author of Pluviographies. A history of Romanian culture from Ploiești (2012). He is constantly present on websites with articles about new book releases such as: literaturcoaz.blogspot.ro (personal page), voxpublica.realitatea.net (with opinions on the socio-political world), historia.ro. Member of Romanian Writer’s Union.
Dada Art Critic Dragan Aleksić
Dragan Aleksić was a poet, movie director, art critic and the founder of Dada movement in Yugoslavia in 1920. He studied Slavic languages in Prague where he was introduced to the avant-garde movements as Dadaism. Still living in Prague he started with Dadaistic practice organizing happenings with other Yugoslav students, as Branko Ve Poljanski. On the road to Zagreb he met Lajos Kassák and published a poem in his magazine Ma. In Zagreb he became contributor in magazine Zenit whose editor was Ljubomir Micić. In 1921, he started to publish art critic using Dadaistic vocabulary, showing a great knowledge of actual art movements and important Dadaist and Constructivist artists. So he wrote essays on Kurt Schwitters and Vladimir Tatlin. In 1922, Dragan Aleksić published two Dada magazines: Dada Tank and Dada Jazz. In later he wrote about Alexander Archipenko’s sculpture. At the end of 1922, he moved to Belgrade and continued to write about visual arts and also on literary subjects, using Dadaistic and Futuristic terminology. The paper shows the importance of Dragan Aleksić for the Yugoslavian Dada movement, especially for a phenomenon of Dadaistic art critic, and also the importance of his work for establishing Surrealistic movement in Serbia.
Jasna Jovanov is a professor of Art History at the Novi Sad Faculty of Sciences Department of Geography, Tourism and Hotel Management (since 2005) and at the Novi Sad EDUCONS University Academy of Classic Painting. Her research topics are within the area of Modern Art; she published her research in various monographs and papers, as well as in catalogues of the exhibitions: on Dadaism in Yugoslavia, about artists: Stevan Aleksić, Nadežda Petrović, Marko Murat, Vlaho Bukovac, Risto Stijović, Danica Jovanović. For her contribution in the field of promotion of modern art, she received The Spark of Culture Award (2003), and the ICOM National Committee Curator of the Year Award (2008, 2010, 2013, 2016).
Philosophy of buffoonery – Dadaist impulses in Polish art of the first half of the 20th century
I propose to juxtapose the idea of modernism founded on the concept of freedom with a perspective where freedom, interpreted as a substance and the source of transformation in art, is replaced with the historical concept of regeneration. The principal modernist myth of regeneration perceived art as an instrument leading to the revival of spiritually, physically and socially degraded world of contemporary civilization. Such a historical perspective allows to more effectively intertwine a series of apparently incompatible aspects of modernism than the quintessentially understood freedom rebellion. These aspects include: aversion to technical civilization and its simultaneous unconditional approval; fascination with modern technology and multiple aspects of primitiveness, combining the social reform with the depreciation of humans, and finally the instinct of destruction with the enthusiasm to build. Thus, the Dadaist matrix of the proposed version reflects artistic response to the alleged degeneration of the world, the fall, oppression and sickness of its rationalist Enlightenment structure and limits of the Enlightenment idea of a subject.
The nature of the response is delineated by specific buffoonery in the face of disaster. However, my suggestion is to understand the buffoonery as a signal of valid anthropological issues, from among which I wish to remind of the trickster, who combines foolishness with higher wisdom, being a comedian with deep sense of reality, deceiving tricks with the miracle of transformation. Within this approach to modernism and in relation with the identification of Dadaist matrix, a trickster gains in importance because his presence as one of the oldest archetypes intensifies in the moments of breakthrough providing a sort of protection to the traditional reality ‘against becoming aware of the need for radical change’.
Piotr Juszkiewicz is an art historian and a professor at the Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań, where he lectures at the Institute of Art History. His interests include 20th century art history, contemporary art and art criticism in the 18th-20th centuries. He has received grants and fellowships from Cambridge University, The Getty Grant Program, Rochester University and Edinburgh University and he is the author of several books: Wolność i metafizyka. O tradycji artystycznej twórczości Marcela Duchampa (Freedom and Metaphysics. On Artistic tradition of Marcel Duchamp’s Art, 1995); Od rozkoszy historiozofii do gry w nic. Polska krytyka artystyczna czasu odwilży (From the Bliss of Historiosophy to the ‘Game of Nothing’. Polish Art Criticism of the of the Post-Stalinist ‘Thaw’, 2005); Cień modernizmu (The Shadow of Modernism, 2013). Recently he is a leader of research project on Polish documentaries on art 1945-1989.
György Kálmán C.
Continuation, resemblance or structural affinity? ‘Dada’ in the 1970s in Hungary
In the early 1970s, there appeared on the scene of Hungarian Neo-Avant-garde quite a number of provocative and interesting phenomena – performances, texts, musical productions etc. – which did not fit into the familiar (although half-legal, underground) overall picture of the age. Shocking and funny, ‘unintelligible’ and made up of incoherent parts, without any tangible ideological background or hidden message, there works resembled a lot to the days of the Dada: in their capricious structure, refusal of traditional genres and patterns and celebration of liberty. Although the artists must have known Dada, the connection is not so much historical or influential but rather structural: the early 70s has reinvented (or used) Dada, as a proper expression of artistic freedom. In this respect, this development is a typical Central European one, which must have been triggered by the oppressed, marginalized position of the Avant-Garde, and it did not quite accommodate into the processes of the European trends. The issue of the paper, then, whether these works could be labelled as (new or neo-) Dadaist products, what the structural (or contextual, receptional etc.) peculiarities would justify such a classification, or else they should be treated as a completely distinct trend altogether.
György C. Kálmán is a senior researcher of the Institute for Literary Studies, Humanities Research Center, Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Budapest. His primary interests are literary theory, sociological and linguistic approaches to literature, interpretation and modern Hungarian literature. One of his books (2008) is on the beginnings of Hungarian Avant-garde. He is a practicing critic, and taught at the Pécs University for 15 years. He published studies and some books in literary theory and Hungarian literature, and he is also active in journalism.
Dada as an Avant-Garde Movement and as Invective
The avant-garde movement Dada emerged in the middle of the Great War in a neutral state and was created most notably by refugee artists fleeing the countries at war. Dada was a militantly anti-war artistic movement breaking as many of the aesthetic and cultural rules established by the societies responsible for the war as possible. The Hungarian avant-gardists around the magazine Ma adapted some of the artistic principles of Dada, using the elements of modernistic styles like Expressionism as well as features of other avant-garde movements such as Futurism or Constructivism. Despite the resultant stylistic pluralism and the specific versions of Dada developed by Sándor Barta or Tibor Déry, for instance, the label Dada was long held by critics from the 1920s onwards to disqualify the Hungarian avant-garde. The lecture Dada as an Avant-Garde Movement and as Invective inquires into the meaning of the term Dada by examining contemporary texts by Béla Balázs (1920), Tibor Déry (1921) and Iván Hevesy (1923).
Károly Kókai is lecturer at the Department of Finno-Ugrian Studies of the University of Vienna. His research interests include cultures of migration and avant-garde studies. His main publications include Kassák and Constructivism 1920-1922 (in Text and Image in the 19-20th Century Art of Central Europe, 2010), The Hungarian avant-garde in Vienna 1920-1926 and Kosice modernism, (in Kosice Modernism, 2010), Das Wiener Exil der ungarischen Avantgarde (in Paradigmenwechsel, 2011) and Futurism and Austria (in: Oikos, 2014).
Dada poems – Towards a new materiality
The paper deals with the evolution of the Dada poem’s structure and references form the early Optophonetic verse (of Kurt Schwitters), via Kassák’s or Voronca and Brauner’s Pictopoetry (collage etc.) to something like pre-surrealist pieces of Tzara in the 1920s. From this point of view, the notion of a ‘poem-object’ is considered not only a key concept of a revolutionary aesthetics of dada, but also as an announcement of the modern ‘theories of things’, notably in surrealism, and in modern anthropology, design and cultural studies. First of all, it appears as a sign without a denotation in the textual space (as a crucial part in the crisis of referentiality), second of all it obtains an autonomous essence, in which it takes control of the subject and reduces its identity. It can be seen as a particular set of research instruments prepared to examine not only the textual manifestations of objects, but also the vague and paradoxical relations between ‘words-objects’ (see: Barthes; Krauss; Didi-Hubermann) and material beings. My thesis is rather non-controversial, but I think it deserves to be underlined: the evolution of dada poems is strongly connected to the stricte avant-gardist material turn.
Jakub Kornhauser, is a PhD literary theoretician, critic and translator. He works at the Jagiellonian Univeristy, Krakow, Department of Romance Culture Studies and Faculty of Polish Studies. His research interests include Avant-garde literature and art, French, Romanian, and Polish experimental poetry, Central-European culture as well as the problems of cultural anthropology. He is co-author of De la lettre aux belles-lettres (2012), Horyzonty wyobraźni. Fantazja i fantastyczność we współczesnej kulturze (Horizons of Imagination. Fantasy and the Fantastic in Modern Culture, 2012), Auteur, personnage, lecteur dans les lettres d'expression française (2014). Collaborates with MOCAK Museum of Contemporary Art and International Cultural Centre, Krakow. Member of Literatura na Świecie (World Literature) editorial board and co-editor of the awangarda/rewizje series in the Jagiellonian University Press.
Luca Dada – The Romanian case
Rumanian modernism can probably be best described as a patchwork of paradox. Our study has focused on how the movement evolved, by paying close attention to the paradoxes that shaped its cultural and political development. Traditionally considered one of the ‘small nations’ and on the cultural fringes, Rumania nevertheless produced an impressive line-up of renowned and recognised avant-garde writers and artists in the two decades from 1920. In sculpture, Constantin Brancusi, and his vital contribution to a new, plastic form and Tristan Tzara, forever associated with Dadaism. Artists Marcel Janco, Victor Brauner and Jacques Herold would have to be included in this explosion of talent, as would Gherasim Luca, a poet whose verses still surprise through their originality. How could a country, which was relatively poor and backward, produce, albeit sometimes in a faltering and fragmented manner, such artistic energy, and its own modernism? Our detailed literary and historical investigation took in diverse, wide-ranging opinions, both ‘moderate’ and ‘extreme’, as well as a look back at the visual evidence. In the end, we were led to question the truth of the paradigm according to which, no matter where in the world and no matter when in history, every nation's cultural dynamism reflects its political importance. The amazing eruption of the Rumanian avant-garde on the international scene deserves to be reinterpreted in light of the country's abundant cultural tradition, which has always been able to absorb the best of foreign trends and styles, in many cases enriching them with own remarkable artistic contributions.
Nicole Manucu is an independent researcher and holds a Ph.D. in French and Comparative Literature. She is author of the book: De Tristan Tzara à Ghérasim Luca. Impulsions des modernités roumaines au sein de l'avant-garde européenne – From Tristan Tzara to Ghérasim Luca. Movements of Romanian modernities within the European avant-garde, published by Honoré Champion in 2014. She has long been devoted to the study of European literary and artistic avant-gardes, and has numerous publications in Romanian and French including Tristan Tzara and Gherasim Luca.
The avant-garde magazine G-Material zur elementaren Gestaltung (1923-1926) – Crossing borders in Central and East Europe
This study addresses the avant-garde magazine G-Material zur elementaren Gestaltung (G-Material for Elemental Form-Creation), published by Hans Richter and Werner Gräff in Berlin between 1923 and 1926, from an interdisciplinary and international perspective. Inspired by international Dada, De Stijl in Holland and constructivism in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Russia, G became a primary exhibition space, in which an international assemblage of artists, designers and architects published their works and confronted their opinions.
The main objective of the study is to examine G as a discursive space of Central and East European avant-gardes and as flexible framework, in which Dada and Constructivism as well as Surrealism came together and complemented each other in the specific program of ‘elemental form creation’ (elementare Gestaltung). The paper shows that G adopted the Dada technique of crossing borders – between countries and languages, centres and peripheries, popular and elite culture, art and technique, politics and aesthetics – to develop and transmit a common project beyond the nation-states and beyond established norms.
The journal is analysed thematically, through its focus on art, architecture, photography and film, as well as graphically, through its specific layout. The paper reflects on social, cultural and micro-historical aspects of G using the methods of periodical studies and of cultural transfers for the description of the complex, ever-changing magazine network that structured Central and East European avant-gardes in the interwar period.
Livia Plehwe holds an MA in German Literature at the École Normale Supérieure de Lyon and Erasmus student at Humboldt University Berlin in 2013. PhD Student at Paris 4 Sorbonne University and at European University Viadrina in Frankfurt an der Oder (Cotutelle agreement) since 2015. Research on Hans Richter’s avant-garde magazine G-Material zur elementaren Gestaltung (G-Material for elemental form creation) and on the international network of avant-garde movements and magazines in the Weimar Republic.
‘Trouble with his passport’ – Tristan Tzara, legal restrictions, and Dada principles
In 1916, Tristan Tzara left his native Romania for Zurich where he co-founded Dada, but his goal and literary ambitions were firmly planted in Paris. He waited four years in Zurich, a city for which we had little love (‘this provincial hole’), until 1920 when, as a condition for admission into the League of Nations, Romania was obliged to grant national citizenship to Jews born within its borders and he found himself free to establish himself in Paris. The legal conditions that restricted Tzara’s personal movements during and after the First World War are inseparable from his artistic ambitions to transcend linguistic and geographical borders. Nowhere is Tzara’s commitment to an ethos of self-definition and internationalism more clearly articulated than in his ambitious, though ultimately unrealized, 160-page book Dadaglobe of 1920-1921.
Highlighting new research undertaken for Dadaglobe Reconstructed, an exhibition currently on view at The Museum of Modern Art, New York that marks Dada’s centennial, this paper focuses on the concrete conditions of Tzara’s legal status in this period. The dissolution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the redrawing of European borders brought about both a promise of social and physical mobility and a backlash of nationalism that directly affected individuals: one’s identity became strictly administered by the standardization of passports, visas, and border controls. The various means Tzara employed to bypass these roadblocks – copious correspondence, the circulation of print media, supra-national artistic and literary form – offered a powerful model for the emerging Central and Eastern European avant-gardes.
A specialist in European art between the two World Wars, Adrian Sudhalter is a New York-based art historian and curator. She has held curatorial positions at the Busch-Reisinger Museum, Harvard Art Museums and at The Museum of Modern Art, New York. She is co-editor of the scholarly catalogue Dada in the Collection of The Museum of Modern Art (2008). She presented the findings of her major research project, Dadaglobe Reconstructed, in the form of a landmark book and as an exhibition that was shown at the Kunsthaus Zürich and at The Museum of Modern Art, New York to mark Dada’s centennial in 2016.
Dada in Prague – and beyond
The presentation focuses on paradoxes involved in the reception of Dadaism in Czechoslovakia. A chronology of responses to Dadaism can certainly be constructed, starting with the first reports in the German-language press in 1918, continuing with Dada in Prague cabarets and a small, but episodic Czech Dada group in the season of 1919/20, guest performances by Berlin Dadaists in Prague in 1920, and a bit more, but on the whole the reception is fragmentary and essentially ends in a principled manner with a summary by the leading avant-garde poet Vítězslav Nezval’s, characterizing the Dadaists as wonderful furniture movers who destroyed the bourgeois living room – but now it was time to create a new order. Teige reacted in a similar way. These paradoxes and episodes give an opportunity to discuss mechanism of spread and response. It appears that Prague had several lines in which Dadaism was present – the Prague German line (Vischer, press reports, Dada dancing events), a Yugoslav line (Aleksić’s Yugoslav Dada soirée), a Czech cabaret/entertainment line (Ferenc Futurista), and the mainstream (Teige) and ‘side-stream’ (Berák) avant-garde. The presentation will attempt to translate these episodes into a nuanced network that can account for simultaneous symmetries and asymmetries, multiple centers and multiple margins, decentered centers and centered margins, network intersections, and more. On that reading, Prague represents a simultaneity of nodes – a dual Czech and German node, not always intersecting; a site of a subversion of subversion (entertainment); some of them may even be empty and serve as loci of transmission (Aleksić). Taken together they all argue for a variety Dadaisms, ultimately reflecting the nature of Dada Bewegung / mouvement Dada as an enterprise that is in movement.
Jindřich Toman studied Germanic and Slavic Philology at the Universities of Freiburg and Köln, he is Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of Michigan. In the 1980s and 1990s he focused on generative linguistics, with special emphasis on Czech and German, as well as on the history of linguistics. His recent research has been situated at the interfaces of cultural history and visual culture, with topics including modernist book design, his publications in this regards includes the books Czech Cubism and the Book from 2004; and Photo/Montage in Print from 2009. His forthcoming publications includes two monographs on Czech modernism entitled Clean Books: Abstract and Functional Book Design in Interwar Czechoslovakia and Conditions of Inclusion: Bohemia’s Jews and their Nineteenth Century. He has also co-curated several exhibitions, including Jindrich Heisler: Surrealism Under Pressure held in 2012 at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Transbordeur Dada: Serge Charchoune’s ‘volatile leaflets’ and transnational communities in Europe between the World Wars
The paper focuses on the activities of the Russian-French dadaist of Slovak origin Serge Charchoune (1888-1975) as a transnational project, where transnational pertains to the activities ‘initiated and sustained by non-institutional actors, be they organized groups or networks of individuals across borders’. I got interested in his biography in connection with his publishing activities in the 1920-1930s, which René Guerra considered to be proto-samizdat. Paradoxically, Charchoune’s return to Russia began with the publication of his novel Dolgolikov in the samizdat periodical Mitin zhurnal in 1987. Although he belonged to the ‘old’ Russian émigré he set up close contacts with the post-1917 Russian exile and introduced them to Dada movement. Emerged in Zurich in 1915 as a response to the trauma of the Great War, the movement soon spread worldwide. Ideas migrated from one Dada centre to another, transported by artists who travelled between countries and cities, as well as through the international distribution of avant-garde publications, exhibitions and other artistic projects. Charchoune’s biography and his literary and artistic œuvre provide valuable insights into the development of intellectual communities in Europe between two wars. He was involved in major Dada projects together with the artists from different countries (Francis Picabia, Tristan Tzara, Kurt Schwitters, Hans Arp, Man Ray, László Moholy-Nagy, Aleksei Kruchenykh, El Lissitsky, Mark Talov, among others) connecting different groups of French and German dadaists and Russian futurists and constructivists. His self-published leaflets – or ‘volatile leaflets’ – served an idea of transnational networking in a very special – Dada-inspired – way. Starting from 1922, Charchoune published several types of sam-sebia-izdat leaflets: Perevoz-Dada (also under the title Transbordeur Dada), Pamiatnik (Monument), Klapan (Flap), V’iushka (this Russian word has actually thee meanings), etc.
Olga Zaslavskaya is a director of the Alternative Culture Center (Budapest, Hungary) since 2007 and worked as Samizdat Archives curator at the Open Society Archives at Central European University. She organized several international projects, including such research and educational.
Currently she is working on the book on independent publishing activities in the 20th century. Her recent research interests also connected with the history of East European ‘lost generation’. Within this project the article From Fiume to Krasnaya Rechka: Reconstructing Myths of One’s Biography was published in 2015; and another article about artistic activities and fate of Nagy brothers is forthcoming. Her other publications include From Dispersed to Distributed Archives: The Past and the Present of Samizdat Material. Poetics Today; M ă rturii ale r ă zboiului rece: Arhivele samizdatului. (Testimonies of the Cold War: The Archives of the Samizdat). Arhivele Totalitarismului; Nepodtsenzurnaia pechat’ Vostochnoi Evropy (Uncencored Press of Eastern Europe). Acta Samizdatica (2015)
Ana Simona Zelenović
Zenitism and Dada
The subjects of this presentation will be avant-garde movements that appeared in Yugoslavia during the third decade of the twentieth century. There were two main movements that represented avant-garde artistic thought and practice: the first one is Zenitism – whose embodiment was the journal Zenit, created in 1921 by the poet, writer and critic Ljubomir Micić, largely supported by his brother the poet, actor and painter Branko Ve Poljanski, who also organized the art club Zenit in Prague, and the second one is Dadaism (so called Yugo-Dada) whose beginnings can be traced in the mentioned journal Zenit, but later fully expressed itself in journals Dada Tank and Dada Jazz, created by the writer, literary critic and painter Dragan Aleksić, after he quitted in 1922 his collaboration with brothers Micić. As a reaction to this break up, Ve Poljanski published anti-dadaist journal Dada-Jok.
As it is well known, journals played very important role in the avant-garde art, and were themselves form of artistic expression. I will present these four journals that were crucial to the Dadaism and Zenitism in Yugoslavia: Dada Tank, Dada Jazz, Dada-Jok, and Zenit, not because these journals supported and represented movements, as it was practice in Europe, but because they were almost the only space where these movements were manifested. The focus will be on ideas that were expressed in these journals and formal analyses of artworks published in them, as well as on the social aspects of these avant-gardes. I would also highlight the authenticity of these movements and differences between them and similar avant-gardes in Europe. Also, the artistic influences, cultural exchanges and political conditions that were necessary for the emergence of this kind of phenomenon, will be examined.
Ana Simona Zelenović is a MA candidate at the Art History department of the Faculty of Philosophy in Belgrade, currently working on thesis about the feminist aspects of performances of neo-avant-garde artist Katalin Ladik. This year, she organized, with her colleagues, regional student conference Literature and Art in Yugoslavia: (dis)continuities (1918–1992). Her bachelor’s thesis was Death of Painting in Russian Avant-garde Theory and Practice. During studies volunteered at National Museum and Heritage House in Belgrade and worked at Graphic Collective Gallery in Belgrade. Her research interests include avant-garde and neo-avant-garde art, feminist art, performance and body art, conceptual art, and art in socialist Yugoslavia, as well as Serbian contemporary art.