Cut with the Kitchen Knife through the Raw Future of 100 Years Before

Artists: Guy Ben-Ner, Luchezar Boyadjiev, Paul Buck, Anetta Mona Chişa & Lucia Tkáčová,
Ivars Gravlejs, Yoshua Okón, Larissa Sansour, W. Mark Sutherland and Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung.

Curator: Simona Nastac

10 May – 28 August 2016

In 1916, against the backdrop of the Great War, Dada unfolded as a symptom of a profound existential crisis, a corrosive, rizomathic and viral negation of the ‘idols of reason’ left unreplaced by a new truth after Nietzsche situated man in a Godless world. Influenced by his iconoclasm, the Dadaists responded skeptically and irreverently “yes, yes” (“da, da”) to the Great Powers of politics and art, with a pair of scissors in their hands. The proposed DIY method was deceivingly simple: “Take a newspaper. Take some scissors. Choose from this paper an article of the length you want to make your poem. Cut out the article. Next, carefully cut out each of the words that makes up this article and put them all in a bag. Shake gently. Next take out each cutting one after the other. Copy conscientiously in the order in which they left the bag. The poem will resemble you. And there you are – an infinitely original author of charming sensibility, even though unappreciated by the vulgar herd.” (Tristan Tzara, To Make a Dadaist Poem)Today, the procedure follows a similar recipe: one examines and copies the mannerisms of the adversary; one adopts the delusory strategies and accessories of the prevailing order; everything gets exaggerated to the limit of parody, then one poetically yet intransigently confronts political, social and artistic topics of unambiguous criticality. One employs audience alienating and delayed perception devices, and also updates and augments its expectations. With the same ethos as a century ago: confidence in unexplored tensions, undiscovered phenomena and unprecedented theories; receptiveness and reactivity to the present (the newspaper is not an accident!); alertness to anything that could be text (pre, sub, con, inter, infra, hyper, non, post, i, ș.a.m.d); the belief that art and life share the same DNA, the repetition of a difference and the risk of being mutually incomprehensibile; and, more than anything (although Dada is all about horizontalism and grassroots action), the infectious availability for paradox and indeterminacy, openness to an elsewhere and otherwise than it is, not as an anarchic whim but as a means of searching for unconventional artistic and political forms, for keeping the possibility of freedom and renewal alive. Against the universal economic fatalism, Dada tells us that everything could be different, although it doesn’t want anything and is never right.

Misappropriating the title of Hannah Hoch’s iconic Dada photomontage, the exhibition Cut with the Kitchen Knife through the Raw Future of 100 Years Before aims to show that Dada is as sharp as a knife with two blades today, able to cut through the dense layers of power, mainstream media and institutions and expose their methods of domination in order to foster progressive change. It seeks to examine how artists engage with the present-day’s raw contradictions, intensities and inconsistencies, 100 years after Dada redefined the very idea of art, offering the first joyous yet no-nonsense dogma for its release and true freedom. Last but not least, it aims to probe how Dadaism has become part of almost every artist’s practice and how it re-emerges, uncompromised, equipped for the 21st century, when it can claim both fidelity to its original defiance and serve as a still-living collection of usable and adjustable techniques – chance procedures, collage, photomontage, readymades, cacophony, appropriation, culture jamming, pastiche and pranks.

Wildly open to misinterpretation, the exhibition features artists who decided to take matters into their own hands, although the notion of responsibility in art remains debatable and contingent. Encompassing video, photography, documented performance, installation, sculpture, posters and text, their works invite visitors to take a Dada break from the burnout society and reflect on autonomy, resistance, audacity, invention, utopia or else. There is no master plan of coherence here, or indeed any transcendental experience to be had (after all, ‘humour is reason gone mad’, as Groucho Marx said). Instead, the reward is 50 Euros to the person who will best explain what Dada is! (Terms and conditions: to exhibition visitors only)