Blog Post #2 – Art & Trauma

The Dada movement is proof that art can have a significant political impact. The movement itself was a parody of what “real” art was thought to be. An important part of the Dada movement was that it was avant-garde and went against the traditional aesthetic, “It was often defiantly anti-art” (Hopkins, 1). This movement’s goal seemed to be focused on stopping the war and violence (through avant-garde art).

“Dada and Surrealism thus shared the defining avant-garde conviction that social and political radicalism should be bound up with artistic innovation. The artist’s task was to move beyond aesthetic pleasure and to affect people’s lives; to make them see and experience things differently” (Hopkins, 3)

This type of art not only helped people take their minds off of social issues, but it also became an influence within them. The true goal was to change the mindset of citizens and politicians, to in result breakdown the underperforming social structures and barriers. The Dada art went against values, traditions, and aesthetics, which brought about new form of meaning and expression, that influenced people to change their mindset and see new things.

I think an interesting question through this movement is what defines art? The unorthodox mediums used for art, or as Hopkins described ‘ready made items’ were used as opportunity for art (10). Some of these items, such as a toilet, obviously changed the definition of art and dissolved what traditional art was. The informal definition of art during this movement could be described as something that moves someone beyond the traditional aesthetic to make people feel and experience life differently.

Dadaist, Hugo Ball, saw the movement,”[art] is an opportunity for the true perception and criticism of the times we live in” (Jones, 118). Changing art in a culture was a way to change how a culture thought and was structured. To change art, was to influence the culture, which resulted in a change in society and tradition. I think understanding the ruins that the war-affected countries were in is important to understand why people needed change. Something drastic, like avant-garde art, catches the eye of people and the movement is proof that the work of artists does make an impact and society as well as politics. However, this Dada movement could only have had a positive effect for so long before it faded away.

Works cited:

Dada and Surrealism, David Hopkins

Dada Culture: Critical Texts on the Avant-garde edited by Dafydd Jones


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