Dada and Africa
Catalogue Dada Africa. photograph Rietberg Museum
The exhibition is timed to coincide with this year’s Dada centenary. It will be the first to be devoted to the Dadaists’ preoccupation with non-European art and culture. The sensorially explosive “Soirées nègres” at Cabaret Voltaire used a variety of artistic genres to attack artistic conventions and traditional values.
Their performances of pseudo-African sound poems, drum rhythms and masked dances were spontaneous, vital and wild as they followed the Dada agenda of transcending boundaries and deliberately shocking the audience. The masks designed by Marcel Janco, the costumes by Sophie Taeuber and the collages by Hannah Höch were also characterised by a striving for a new formal language and an elemental life world. In the exotic quality of the foreign, Dada artists discovered a liberating alternative world through which they strove to renew their own societies and create a new kind of art. In this exhibition Dadaist works enter into a dialogue with art, music and literature from Africa, America, Asia and Oceania. The Dada exhibitions in 1917 already presented African works of art as equals together with Dadaist works.