Friday 5 February 2016, 7.30pm
Marking 100 years to the day since of the debut Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich 1916, Lost Property presents an evening of performances and talks that draw on Dada as inspiration. Eschewing an overly retrospective approach - not least because Tristan Tzara’s original Dada Manifesto called for the “abolition of memory and archaeology” - they have instead picked a line-up of artists in whom some trace of the Dadaist sensibility can be felt:
Thee Bald Knobbers
Dr Kersten Glandien
Karen Constance Exhibition
In the run up the event there will be a solo exhibition of Karen Constance's collages and paintings. This will take place in Cafe Oto's Project Space from 1 to 4 February 2016, open from 12pm-6pm, with an opening night on 31st January from 5pm.
About Lost Property
Lost Property formed in 2013 to stage Fort Process, a site-specific arts festival based in an old military fort in Newhaven, East Sussex. They have since gone on to put on events such as celebration of Terry Riley’s 80th birthday, and were commissioned by the Anglo-French arts festival diep-haven to put on an event in Summer 2015. They also run the all-day experimental music showcase Splitting The Atom, now approaching its 30th edition.
Although Dada can sometimes appear as if it emerged as a fully formed movement and style, the press release sent out by Hugo Ball to the Zurich press three days before the debut Cabaret Voltaire shows that original invitation to perform was open in spirit:
“The idea of the cabaret will be that guest artists will come and give musical performances and readings at the daily meetings. The young artists of Zurich, whatever their orientation, are invited to come along with suggestions and contributions of all kinds.”
Many of these artists were already like-minded in one respect: they were refugees escaping war, coming to neutral Switzerland from all over Europe - Marcel Janco and Tristan Tzara from Romania, Hugo Ball and Emmy Hennings from Germany - and they brought with them a strong anti-war, anti-fascist mentality from the outset. This sense of outrage was what gave Cabaret Voltaire its defiant urge to provoke - performances became more chaotic and brutal as the club developed and the war raged on, and it was not uncommon for audience members to start attacking the stage. Tzara certainly revelled in confrontation: "In the presence of a compact crowd," he declared, "we demand the right to piss in different colours".
Dada as a cohesive movement was short-lived - it was all over by 1922, as rival factions disagreed over the direction it should take, and Surrealism grabbed the imagination of artists and public alike. There is no doubt that its influence lives on though: look at the artistic methods pioneered by Dadaists - chance procedures, collage, photomontage, abstraction, readymades, sound poetry, pranks, cacophony - you are likely to see some or all of these in one form or other at the experimental music nights of the kind that Lost Property like to put on.
Phil Minton video by Helen Petts.