This collection of critical essays celebrates the subversive and challenging creativity of the Dada movement, born in pacifist Zurich in 1916 in violent reaction to the First World War. It examines the collective and individual activities that took place under the name of Dada in Zurich, Cologne, Berlin, Paris, New York and Barcelona, and explores the various creative forms employed, including text, collage, photomontage, objects, dance, performance and film. The authors suggest new ways of understanding the work of the most famous Dadaists, while also casting light on the contribution of hitherto neglected figures. "Dada was a bomb", declared Max Ernst in an interview in 1958. "Can you imagine anyone, almost half a century after the explosion of a bomb, trying to collect its fragments and stick them together in order to display them?" The aim of this volume is not to reconstitute the bomb, but to analyse some of its explosive effects and after-effects that continue to resonate nearly a century later.
Far from attempting to reduce Dada to a homogeneous movement, or to define a unifying principle beneath and beyond the multiple directions taken by Dadaists, this collection aims to respect the diversity and heterogeneity of the movement's collective activities as well as the specificity of its individual actors.