Guest editor and cover design for Little Village issue 212, a Dada-themed take on the annual arts issue
Read the whole issue here, with work by Julia Madsen, Alea Adigweme, Bea Drysdale, and John Engelbrecht
The fifth annual Little Village arts issue celebrates the anniversary of an unwilling subject: the centennial of the Dada movement, as counted from the first bizarre art and literary performances at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich, Switzerland. Despite Dada’s enormous influence on art and culture through this century, it ducks and dodges as we approach to pay homage, leaping off its static historical pedestal and shouting nonsense in our ears. Dada doesn’t want me to edit this issue in its honor, and it is stubbornly resisting my desire to write a pithy introduction cleanly synthesizing its history/aesthetics/politics with the artwork herein and our current political moment, perhaps ending with an inspiring call-to-(Dadaist)-action.
To steal some language from Dadaists and Dada historians: Dada is nothing, it is chaos, it is absurd, it is protest, it is dead, it is alive, and it belongs to everyone. It is the essence of contradiction.
The featured artists in this issue all have past or current roots in Iowa City, home of the International Dada Archive. They were tasked with exploring a meeting-place between their individual multidisciplinary practices, Dada, and the medium of this ephemeral newsprint publication. In these pages, language takes a turn, undercutting the easy sense of sense. They deconstruct and construct, refuse and reuse, pulling from diverse sources–Walter Benjamin’s catastrophic Angel of History, Kurt Schwitters’ artistic alterations to his family home, images from Ebony magazine and a fashion catalog, and Paul Virilio’s philosophy of speed, politics, and technology–to subvert our ideas of progress, humanity, and wholeness.
Beyond this issue, adorned with a Dada-inspired chance-operation collage, Dada’s anniversary will be celebrated in Iowa City by Documenting Dada/Disseminating Dada, an exhibition of print publications from the International Dada Archive, opening at the University of Iowa Main Library on January 17. I encourage you to look closely, but not passively. Dada wants to provoke you.