Dadaism in the Modern World Term Paper

Pages: 9 (2736 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 5  ·  File: .docx  ·  Topic: Art  (general)


[. . .] In their encounters with these iconic identities, the duo undertakes efforts to erase the distinction between the depersonalized production and the personalized promotion of industrial food. (PICA TBA 2011)

This work is an open air performance that is dependent on pictorial still shots to reflect the event. This work is a production that exemplifies the influence of Dadaism in the present, but it also represents accepted "high art" as it has evolved over the years. The festival also of course represents gallery art emphasizing photography, found art and installation works, also demonstrative of Dadaism. TBA is a modern manifestation of an acceptable area of artistic expression and there are TBA festivals all over the world that represent this type of influence.

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In the spirit of Dadaism this work will look now at examples outside of the area of what is considered "high art." The first obvious example that comes to mind is the Burning Man Festival. This festival is a large scale example of TBA that occurs annually in the Nevada Desert and demonstrates the building of a virtual community in the dessert peopled by individuals from all over the world for a period of 8 days (Black Rock City being the name given to the temporary town complete with a city plan of roads and information infrastructure, including a newspaper). The individual at the festival are encouraged to dress and express their creativity in everything they do, including elaborate artistic vehicles for transportation, TBA installations for public tour, parades and countless other examples of artistic expression, often demonstrative of social commentary. The festival centers around a giant wooden sculpture of a man that is then burned in effigy at the close of the event but it is also much more than that single development. ("Burning Man; Desert Celebration" A02)

Figure 9, 2009 Burning man vehicle build.



Figure 10 Deviant Art Blog post featuring a burning man performance art installation ND

Term Paper on Dadaism in the Modern World Assignment

Though much of burning man is an artistic expression it is also a niche aspect of popular culture. It is supported by a small group of artists who "make it happen" each year and do not expect to be included in mainstream high art. In part the location demonstrates this desire as few non-participants actually venture to the unforgiving desert to view the art. It is therefore art for art's sake and viewed by a small number of people who have great interest in it and are a part of its production usually in some way.

Another Dadaist example of TBA that is not a part of mainstream art is the social phenomena know as the flash mob, or more recently other internet sensations such as "planking." Regardless of the fact that these phenomena are examples of pop culture they are also to some degree expressive of the Dadaist ideal. They are at first absurd, they represent "nothing" and second time-based or fleeting expressions of an artistic idea, sometimes including aspects of social commentary sometimes just intended as absurd and fun. Some examples of flash mobs that this writer can think of is the Jami Oliver dance mob featured in his television program, Food Revolution which is a social commentary on the USDA school food program and its poor quality. Students and Marshall University along with Jamie himself created a flash mob choreographed routine the stressed how simple it was to cook and eat healthy even in a hurry. While performing a dance each individual prepared a full healthy meal. The message is clearly a social commentary that is positive and the video representation of it is moving. Another flash mob example is the flash mob that gets together dressed as if they are in a Michael Jackson Thriller video and performs the dance featured in the video, in a large public place. There are countless examples of such events which can be seen as a popular culture expression of Dadaism with an emphasis on TBA. Planking is another internet "video" "photographic" sensation that represents the invasion of Dadaism in the modern world. The practice is associated with individuals laying flat and still on very odd objects in public, like bank teller drive through kiosks and such while another films or photographs it for posterity. There are also many examples of these types of TBA events online.

Finally this work will look at another and last pop culture example of TBA which is expressed through high fashion and especially the high fashion of the famous. Two modern examples include Bjork and Lady Gaga, both of whom represent through their visible displays of self the idea of Dadaism as a present expression. Each of these celebs demonstrate fundamental expressions of the absurd. There is no purpose to their dress other than as expression of artistic personality, though they sometimes lend themselves to social commentary neither of them are fundamentally members of a high art continuum, and are both in fact pop art musicians.

Figure 11


on left in runway wear and Lady Gaga on the right ( "





The development of modern manifestations of Dadaism is clear, as each new TBA demonstrates the opportunity for these two women (and many others not so famous) to display their artistic prowess in an absurd manner and for "nothing." Though Lady Gaga has become an international sensation and Bjork is slightly more obscure they are similar in their expression and relation to the world.


This work briefly defined Dadaism, provided a few selected visual examples and then explored Dadaism through the modern presentation. When one thinks about all the countless modern examples of TBA and other "absurd" examples of pop culture trends or even high art examples the Dadaist tradition is a helpful lens. Everything about art in general and Dadaism in particular is based on the ability of individual to see the world with a new set of eyes through an expression of absurd or otherwise. The idea of Dadaism as a relatively new representation of a rejection of the status quo, and a new way to see the world can allow an individual to see the modern world through the same lens, especially when one allows the definitions of terms like Time Based Art to be applied to a broader scope.

Works Cited

"Bjork & Gaga" Web. Dec. 12, 2011,

"Burning Man; Desert Celebration of Self-Expression Grows Each Year." The Washington Times 22 Aug. 2003: A02.

Duchamp, Marcel. "Apropos of 'Readymades.'" Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of artists' Writings. Eds. Kristine Stiles, Peter Selz. Berkeley: University of California, 1996. 819-20.

Duchamp, Marcel. "The Creative Act.'" Theories and Documents of Contemporary Art: A Sourcebook of artists' Writings. Eds. Kristine Stiles, Peter Selz. Berkeley: University of California, 1996. 818-19

Novero, Cecilia. Antidiets of the Avant-garde: From Futurist Cooking to Eat Art

Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 2010.

PICA "TBA Festival 2011" Web. Dec. 12, 2011,

RockSteadyGirl (bloger) "Burning Man Festival" Deviant Art Blog Web. Dec 11, 2011.

Telegraph "Burning Man Festival, 2009" Web Dec. 12, 2011.

Tzara, Tristan. "Dada Manifesto 1918." Art in Theory 1900-1990: An Anthology of Changing Ideas. Eds. Charles Harrison and Paul Wood. Maiden, MA: Blackwell, 1992. 248-53. Originally published in Dada, no. 3, 1918.

Weiss, Jeffrey S. The Popular Culture of Modern Art: Picasso, Duchamp, and Avant-gardism.


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