Cannibalizing the Canon

Dada Techniques in East-Central Europe


This rich, in-depth exploration of Dada’s roots in East-Central Europe is a vital addition to existing research on Dada and the avant-garde. Through deeply researched case studies and employing novel theoretical approaches, the volume rewrites the history of Dada as a story of cultural and political hybridity, border-crossings, transitions, and transgressions, across political, class and gender lines. Dismantling prevailing notions of Dada as a “Western” movement, the contributors to this volume present East-Central Europe as the locus of Dada activity and techniques. The articles explore how artists from the region pre-figured Dada as well as actively “cannibalized”, that is, reabsorbed and further hybridized, a range of avant-garde techniques, thus challenging “Western” cultural hegemony.

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Oliver Botar is a Professor of Art History and Associate Director of the School of Art at the University of Manitoba. His research focuses on early 20th-century Central European Modernism, particularly the work of Moholy-Nagy, with concentrations on art in alternative media, and “Biocentrism” and Modernism in early-to-mid 20th-century art.

Irina Denischenko is an Assistant Professor at Georgetown University. Her research focuses on 20th-century literature and visual art--especially the avant-garde, on critical theory, as well as on women’s contributions to avant-garde and modernist aesthetics in Central and Eastern Europe.

Gábor Dobó is a research fellow at the Kassák Museum in Budapest. He is the principal investigator of a project focusing on the artist couple Lajos Kassák and Jolán Simon. In 2022, he was a Fulbright visiting scholar at Columbia University.

Merse Pál Szeredi is department head at the Kassák Museum. His research focuses on Hungarian avant-garde art and the history of Lajos Kassák’s magazine Ma in Vienna between 1920 and 1925, with special emphasis on its international networks.
‘Avant-Garde Critical Studies is not only since decades one of the leading academic platforms devoted to research in and reflection on the twentieth-century artistic avant-garde but also the oldest scholarly forum specifically devoted to artistic avant-gardism in the widest sense. […] The first eleven volumes could for long only be found on bookshelves in libraries. These volumes have now been made available in digital form. They offer a monumental panorama of early avant-garde studies and may still serve today as major resource with fundamental contributions by eminent avant-garde scholars. […] The goal of the series, as set out in issue zero in 1987 by Fernand Drijkoningen, was – and still is today – to serve as a platform to transcend ‘traditional boundaries between disciplines and nationalities’ with ‘an “open” character’. In line with this ambition, the single volumes from the early years of the series all have a profound multifaceted character. Each volume combines essays on different artistic disciplines, be it literature, painting, sculpture, architecture, design, music, performance and film.’
Hubert van den Berg, Palacký University Olomouc, Czech Republic
List of Illustrations
Notes on Contributors

Introduction: “Dada Is more than Dada”
Oliver A. I. Botar, Irina Denischenko, Gábor Dobó and Merse Pál Szeredi

Part 1:Topographies

1 An Exchange Point in a Network: Prague and Dada, 1918–1922
Jindrich Toman
2 Becoming Avant-Garde: Romanian Appropriations of Dada Techniques through East-Central European Networking
Emanuel Modoc
3 Polish Responses to Dadaism: The Voices on Dada, Contacts and Interpretations
Przemyslaw Strozek
4 The Dada Entr’acte of Dragan Aleksic
Jasna Jovanov
5 Hungarian Dada: the Missing Link
András Kappanyos

Part 2: In/Exclusions

6 Céline Arnauld, the “Nomadic” Avant-Garde Writer: a Transnational Approach to Her Life and Work
Iulia Dondorici
7 Two Mysterious “Mademoiselles”: Jeanne Rigaud and Maria Cantarelli  A Multilingual Multi-Layered Dada Pun Unravelled?
Hubert van den Berg
8 Dada as an Avant-Garde Movement and as Invective
Károly Kókai
9 “Dada Is the Best Paying Concern of the Day”: Consumer Culture, Performativity, and the Avant-Garde in Romania
Alexandra Chiriac

Part 3: Performativities

10 Marcel Breuer and Dada Performance: Remade Readymade Self and Furniture
Edit Tóth
11 Míra Holzbachová: Embodying the Avant-Garde
Meghan Forbes
12 To Write with Dots or Not to Write at All? Dada Ideas in Polish Interwar Literature
Michalina Kmiecik
13 Green Donkey Theatre: a Case Study on Theatrical Innovations in the Name of Dadaism
Sára Bagdi and Judit Galácz

Part 4: Trans(pos)itions

14 The Genesis of Dada: Futurist Influences in Germany, Romania and at the Cabaret Voltaire
Günter Berghaus
15 Revolt and Authority: From Kassák to Erdély  Dada in the Hungarian Avant-Garde and Neo-Avant-Garde
Éva Forgács
16 Dadá, not Dáda: Moholy-Nagy in Berlin, 1920–1921
Oliver A. I. Botar
17 Words, Sounds, Images, Theories: the Authors of the Magazine IS in the Context of Dadaism
Imre József Balázs
18 Self-Positioning in the International Avant-Garde: Kassák’s Strategic Use of Dada and Constructivism in the Book of New Artists
Krisztina Zsófia Csaba

Part 5: Hybridentities

19 Raoul Hausmann and the Welteislehre: Science and Identity
Arndt Niebisch
20 Dada Lingua Franca: The Linguistic Fate of Tristan Tzara and Raoul Hausmann
Alexandru Bar and Michael White
21 Crossovers and Transgressions: Dada as a Life Strategy in Emil Szittya’s Works
Magdolna Gucsa
22 Android, Cyborg, Dandy and Woman
Representations of the Body in the Decadent and Dada Imaginations: The Hungarian and International Contexts
Györgyi Földes
23 The New Man, According to Sándor Bortnyik
Merse Pál Szeredi

The target audience of the volume is academics, researchers, teachers, and students of the avant-garde in East-Central Europe, as well as those interested in the history of Dada and the avant-garde.
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