In 2016, Dada turns 100.
One February evening in 1916, Cabaret Votaire was born in Spiegelgasse 1, Zurich. A primal scream that still resonates accompanied the event: “Dada, Dada, Dada”. Tristan Tzara, Hans Arp, Hugo Ball, Emmy Hennings, Marcel Janco, Sophie Taeuber and Richard Huelsenbeck roared, cooed and chirruped “Dada”. They danced, sang and stomped “Dada”.
From there, Cabaret Voltaire evolved into a melting pot of nationalities, art genres and styles. Dada was hypermodern, provocative, inventive and dissolved the boundaries that separated life from art. By the beginning of the 1920s, Dada had already become a worldwide network.
By way of their “movement international” and “world congresses”, the protagonists occupied and roamed through the world’s big cities with the aim of turning the globe into a branch of Dadaism. Dada became avant-garde’s primal expression without which surrealism, pop art, fluxus, mail art or punk would not have seen the light of day and which continues to galvanize artists, writers and designers to this very day.
Dada has become a code that stands for the radical experiment to reduce to absurdity of tried concepts and values – a strategy that’s valid still.
The real Dadaist “Chronique Zurichoise” (Zurich episode) came to a close in June 1919. Thanks to one of the world’s largest Dadaist collections at Zurich’s Museum of Art and the Cabaret Voltaire, which was reopened in 2004, Zurich has remained the center of the Dada universe.