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DADA--The Prank That Keeps on Pranking

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I was going to do a post about how Marcel Duchamp’s Fountain is one big prank because ever since I learned about it as a child, I have never for one second believed that a single person has considered that to be real art. But mom always said, “Go big or go home”, and the commute is a b*tch so we’re gonna talk about all of Dadaism.

Dadaism is a joke. I’m not being mean, I have evidence. A precursor to Dadaism is “anti-art,” a term Duchamp himself coined in relation to the aforementioned urinal. What he meant to do (supposedly) was to challenge any preconceived notion of what art is and to change the definition. If you take a freudian approach, Duchamp was openly admitting that none of this is even remotely art-ish.

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L.H.O.O.Q by Marcel Duchamp (based on the Mona Lisa obviously)

Dadaism started up around the time World War I was beginning and was a protest against the “bourgeois nationalist and colonialist interests.” Weird collages, gluing random things together, and drawing facial hair on the Mona Lisa is not a protest. Or at all useful in any context whatsoever. And that’s what makes it so funny! These people utilized exactly zero levels of skill, called it anti-art (which might as well be calling it art), and said it had all of these big meanings behind it when it clearly didn’t. And people believed them!

Dadaism is labeled some avant-garde art movement that started in Switzerland and travelled all throughout Europe, as well as some other places (namely New York). A bunch of art pranksters or very high artists or a nice combo decided to push the boundaries of what people would accept as art and it caught on like wildfire. The joke is so good that I don’t even know if the Swiss artists were kidding and everyone bought it or if every artist who got into Dadaism was also joking. It got so big it’s like, what’s even real anymore?

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Gift by Man Ray at Museum of Modern Art

I wish I could have been alive at the height of Dadaism. Let me tell you, I made some terrible collages in 6th grade that I think would have fit in perfectly. That’s how you know this can’t be real. If an artistically disinclined 11-year-old can make what you make, it’s a joke. And people are getting the joke permanently etched onto their bodies! Can you imagine pulling off a prank so great that 100 years later, people are still falling for it so hard that they tattoo it on themselves? That’s… inspirational to say the least. Good on you Dada. May the joke live on.


By: Maya

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Maya Jacobson

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