For bookish people 2016 is a year to celebrate and to commemorate in many respects. 400 years ago Shakespeare and Cervantes died, and a hundred years ago one of the most innovative artistic movements – which, in fact, denied to be an artistic movement at all - was brought to light in Zurich: Dada. On 5th February 1916 Hugo Ball and Emmy Ball-Hennings opened their “Künstlerkneipe Voltaire” in Zurich, Spiegelgasse 1, together with artists like Tristan Tzara, Marcel Janco, Richard Huelsenbeck and Jean Arp.
Dada was the first art movement where the focus of the artists was not on crafting aesthetically pleasing objects but on making works that often upended bourgeois sensibilities. Influenced by Cubism, Futurism, Constructivism, and Expressionism it arose as a reaction to World War I and the nationalism that many thought had led to the war. Dada’s output was wild and wildly diverse, ranging from performance art to poetry, photography, sculpture, painting, and collage. Its aesthetic, marked by its mockery of materialistic and nationalistic attitudes, proved a powerful influence on artists in many cities, from Zurich to Berlin, Hanover, Paris and New York.
The Dada members were so strong on opposing all norms of bourgeois culture that the group was barely in favor of itself, and so they said: "Dada is anti-Dada!" The founding of Dada in the “Künstlerkneipe” or Cabaret Voltaire in the centre of Zurich was appropriate: the Cabaret was named after the 18th century French satirist, Voltaire, whose novella Candide mocked the idiocies of his society. As Hugo Ball, one of the founders of both the Cabaret and Dada wrote: "This is our Candide against the times."
Right there, at Cabaret Voltaire, where artists like Hugo Ball, Francis Picabia, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray, André Breton, Jean Arp, Tristan Tzara, Hannah Höch and Kurt Schwitters accompanied by his beautiful “Anna Blume” made their first steps to world fame – although they did not want to be famous at all - the Swiss antiquarian booksellers will gather a hundred years later on 23 April 2016 from 2 pm until late at night.
Right there, where words were formed to Dada performances celebrating literacy in its very literal and sometimes highly absurd sense a hundred years ago, the Swiss booksellers will hold an ILAB Pop Up Book Fair on UNESCO World and Copyright Day 2016 to celebrate literacy once again with (maybe) more Dada performances, (certainly) a great show of rare books and (definitely) a gorgeous fundraising to help UNESCO’s Forest Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative (WPDI) fill the empty book-shelves in the schools of South Sudan.
DADA IS ANTI-DADA!
CELEBRATE WITH US!
AT THE CABARET VOLTAIRE ... 23 APRIL 2016, 2 pm ... ON UNESCO WORLD BOOK & COPYRIGHT DAY!
March 2016 – For immediate release. Pictures: ILAB, UNESCO, the Organizers, Wikipedia, Cabaret Voltaire