Dadaesque Exhibit at 701 CCA

dada If someone had told me ten years ago that Columbia would be hosting an international exhibit of Dada-inspired art tonight, like 701 CCA is in fact doing, I'd have have smiled and nodded before rolling my eyes enough to make me dizzy, not sure if many of us had even heard of  the Swiss-inspired Dada movement, much less have an appreciation for it.

But such is the caliber of arts interest in 2016 Columbia, SC.  And much of this interest is built on the backs of previous arts intensives provided by Columbia Museum of Art and Columbia College whose exhibitions and attached programs dedicated to the likes of Andy Warhol and Georgia O'Keeffe have stimulated and nurtured what is becoming a passion for arts history and arts appreciation in the city. We are growing in our desire for not only more challenging art, but for the ability to understand what it is that makes some art more challenging.

Kudos to  701 Center for Contemporary Art for presenting Dadaesque, which is the culmination of their 701 CCA's Dada Days in Columbia, a series of programs through which the center has been marking the one hundredth anniversary of the Dada movement, which many art historians recognize as the impetus for most of what we now perceive as contemporary art.

“The exhibition will surprise people in that it shows the scope of Dada’s influence on contemporary art,” says 701 CCA board chair Wim Roefs, who curated the exhibition. “It’ll be surprising to know, for instance, that Columbia mainstays such as Mike Williams and Clark Ellefson create works that are firmly rooted in the Dada movement. While, like many other artists in the show, they don’t see themselves as Dada artists, they would readily acknowledge that it was the innovations of Dada that informs and facilitates at least part of their artistic output.”

The group exhibition period will run from April 13 through June 5 and in addition to featuring Columbia-based artists Clark Ellefson and Mike Williams will also feature Jason Kendall of Columbia and Colin Quashie, whom we'd still like to call our own and Hilton Head's Aldwyth. Our artists will be joined by artists from throughout the US as well as sound poet and 701 visiting resident artist Jaap Blonk and Janke Klompmaker, both from The Netherlands. There will be a Gallery Talk at 2 pm on Sunday, May 15th.

What You Need to Know About Dadaism

Need to brush up on your Dadaism? Here's a very brief primer on how this strange arts movement, which was very much anti-arts movement, fits into the bigger picture.

"Dada was born out of negative reaction to the horrors of the First World War. This international movement was begun by a group of artists and poets associated with the Cabaret Voltaire in Zürich. Dada rejected reason and logic, prizing nonsense, irrationality and intuition. The origin of the name Dada is unclear; some believe that it is a nonsensical word. Others maintain that it originates from the Romanian artists Tristan Tzara's and Marcel Janco's frequent use of the words "da, da," meaning "yes, yes" in the Romanian language. Another theory says that the name "Dada" came during a meeting of the group when a paper knife stuck into a French–German dictionary happened to point to 'dada', a French word for 'hobbyhorse'."

-- Dona Budd, the Language of Art Knowledge

  • Dada or Dadaism was a form of artistic anarchy born out of disgust for the social, political and cultural values of the time. It embraced elements of art, music, poetry, theatre, dance and politics.


  • “The beginnings of Dada,” poet Tristan Tzara recalled, “were not the beginnings of art, but of disgust.”


  • For Dada artists, the aesthetic of their work was considered secondary to the ideas it conveyed. “For us, art is not an end in itself,” wrote Dada poet Hugo Ball, “but it is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in.”


  • Dadaists both embraced and critiqued modernity, imbuing their works with references to the technologies, newspapers, films, and advertisements that increasingly defined contemporary life.


 For more on Dadaism click here and here, too.