International Dada: Between Aesthetic and Political Revolution



David Hopkins, University of Glasgow The Dada movement (1916-1923) is normally seen as linked to specific locations: Zurich, Berlin, Cologne, Hanover, Paris and New York. Whilst common anti-war and anti-art sentiments are understood as uniting these centers, Dada activity in each location is customarily defined in terms of distinguishing characteristics. Zurich Dada is therefore seen as having an aesthetic tendency (in the direction of abstraction) whilst the Berlin group is considered more politically engaged. This paper seeks to challenge the too-easy separation between aesthetics and politics in accounts of Dada that has been encouraged by the above model. At the same time, it aims to challenge the model of static Dada locations and to promote a dynamic notion of Dada as constituted primarily by the principle of dissemination. The paper will look closely at a series of interactions between key Dada figures in far-flung locations. It will aim to show that magazines, letters or telegrams between these indivi